CALDWELL, NJ — Introduced on first reading during the Caldwell Borough Council meeting held Tuesday night, the council unanimously passed an ordinance that will provide for long-term and dynamic changes to the borough. The second reading, public comment and deciding vote will take place during the Dec. 15 council meeting.
The redevelopment plan will be discussed during the borough’s planning board meeting scheduled for Dec. 9.
One of the criteria for the redevelopment plan was to incorporate the approximately 80 units of housing that the borough is obligated to create in order to comply with the landmark settlement and is required by its Council on Affordable Housing obligations. Topology LLC, the borough’s consultant on the project, prepared the report, which may be found in its entirety on the borough’s website.
According to the introduction of the Redevelopment Plan, the goal of the plan is to: “…provide a planning and policy framework for the redevelopment, effectuate the borough’s planning goals, and determine a potential program for development. The principal goal of the Plan is to promote reinvestment in downtown properties in order to ensure both the long-term economic health of the municipality, and to prevent the further deterioration of older homes and businesses. Further, future development of moderate additional density will enhance the character of Caldwell and serve as an appropriate transition between the downtown and surrounding, predominantly single-family, neighborhoods.”
The redevelopment plan shall supersede any conflicting standards in the borough’s zone code as would be applied to any development proposal that requires site plan approval.
The Redevelopment Plan confirms that the plan is consistent with the Local Master Plan, Master Plan Re-Examination Report of 2017, 2019 Open Space Plan, Essex County Master Plan, Master Plans of adjacent municipalities of Essex Fells, North Caldwell and West Caldwell, NJ State Plans, NJ Smart Growth Principles and NJ State Strategic Plan.
The plan subdivides areas of the borough, primarily along or near Bloomfield Avenue, into five subdistricts, each district with a planned parameter for redevelopment. The plans are as follows:
Subdistrict 1 which includes the area from Forest Avenue to Central Avenue will allow for up to five story mixed use buildings that include retail, commercial and residential usage;
Subdistrict 2, includes two to three-story mixed-use properties along Roseland Avenue;
Subdistrict 3, including the triangular area near Academy Road, provides for low-density mixed-use buildings;
Subdistrict 4, which runs from Smull Avenue to Parsonette Street and near the Verona border, provides for additional housing, including townhouses;
Subdistrict 5 on the western edge of the borough along Lane Avenue provides three story housing including townhomes and multi-family units.
Parking requirements include that for any parking spots removed as a direct result of any project entitled through the plan must be replaced within the project at a 1-to-1 ratio. For construction of 10 or more new parking spaces, at least 10% of spaces shall accommodate electric vehicle charging stations. There is also a requirement for bicycle parking that developers must provide depending upon square footage of a particular commercial space or apportionment to multifamily residential units.
Traffic studies provided by the redeveloper will be required prior to any execution of a Redeveloper Agreement. Studies would be required for intersections along Bloomfield Avenue that include: Academy Road, Central Avenue, Park Avenue, Smull Avenue, Forest Avenue, Roseland Avenue, Provost Square, Elm Road, Mountain Avenue and Westville Avenue.
The plan includes six pages of approximately 200 of properties that are included in the redevelopment plan.
During the public comment section of the meeting residents had called in with concerns about the project as well as notification to the community. Comments included concern relating to the impact upon the schools, what the timeframe would be for the construction projects, traffic impact both during construction and afterwards, potential negative impacts upon the borough, and the need for direct communication to the residents of the community regarding the project. Mayor John Kelley confirmed that the upcoming Planning Board meeting and the second reading would provide opportunities for input from the citizens and noted the report was available on the website. Hardcopies of the plan will be made available at borough hall if anyone wishes to review them.
In other news, by a 4:2 vote the council voted in favor of expressing their intent for the borough to “serve as a host municipality of legal cannabis operations as authorized by the New Jersey State referendum approved on November 3, 2020.” Councilman Jonathan Lace read into the record his objection to the initiative basing much of his position on the feedback he had received conducting his due diligence in communicating with elected officials and police chiefs in Colorado. Councilman Francis Rodgers voted against the measure as well.
The referendum that was overwhelmingly passed by voters on Nov. 3, authorizes municipalities to impose a tax on cannabis and approve sites for the purposes of production, distribution, and consumption. Mayor John Kelley confirmed that there were no sites that were conducive to production within the borough, but there are sites that can provide for distribution and consumption. The passage of the resolution confirms the municipality’s expression “of intent to participate” and does not commit to anything more at this time according to Kelley.