CALDWELL, NJ — The borough’s Redevelopment Plan that had been approved this past December is now subject to amendments through the first reading of ordinance 1410-21 introduced during the Borough Council meeting held on April 6. 

In a memorandum dated April 5 from Topology NJ LLC, which the borough has contracted with for professional planning services for the Downtown Redevelopment project, it was stated: “Proposed amendments include changes regarding prospective financing for municipal projects was added to facilitate public financing through the issuance of bonds in accordance with statutory requirements.”    

Language changes sought to: “clarify that one of the Plan’s goals is to facilitate the improvement of governmental and public facilities.” Business Administrator Tom Banker stated that it was “more favorable for the borough” to finance through the redevelopment laws rather than the bonding laws for the financing of multiple projects including a new construction for the borough hall, police department, health department offices and the refurbishment of the Caldwell Community Center.

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Other changes proposed in the ordinance included that “Retail Services or Retail Stores was added as a permitted principal use in Subdistrict IV.” Topology’s memorandum stated: “With regard to the ‘Parking, Public’ as a permitted principal use in Subdistricts I, II, III, and IV, it was specified in the table listing the applicable area and bulk requirements that this use shall be exempt from setback and coverage standards.”

The council held a public virtual meeting on April 3 to discuss the planned redevelopment for the Lane Avenue project with the expectation that action would be taken by the council during the April 6 meeting and if approved then sent to the planning board for their review. However, Mayor John Kelley announced at the beginning of the council meeting that the Lane Avenue project would not be on the agenda.  A special meeting has now been scheduled for April 13 however it is not clear if the Lane Avenue project will be on the agenda for the special meeting.

Two resolutions were passed addressing the borough’s affordable housing obligations. Resolution 4-108 endorsed the housing element and fair share plan and 4-109 provided for the appropriation of funds or bond in the event of a shortfall in funding for the borough’s affordable housing programs.

During public comment Caldwell resident Sarah Solie commented that the Lane Avenue project was “not right for Caldwell” stating that adding “250 people will bring 110 vehicles” to Lane Avenue.  Councilwoman Francis DePalma-Iozzi suggested that making Lane Avenue a one-way street may “eliminate traffic.” Kelley responded that a traffic engineer would be optimal, and Councilman Jeffrey Gates confirmed that Lane Avenue is a county road.

Office of Emergency Management director Mark Guiliano reported that in the last four weeks, COVID-19 positivity rates are rising and that the “spread among younger people is concerning.” Positivity rates increased by 42% from a month ago. However, in the most recent statewide data released on Friday, the week-over-week rate of new reported cases is down 18% from last week.

Essex County liaison Patricia Keenan confirmed to date the county has administered 223,000 Moderna and 5,000 Johnson and Johnson vaccinations.  Through county efforts 91,000 residents in Essex County are now fully vaccinated.

The next council meeting will be April 13.