WESTFIELD, NJ — Municipal officials got an overview of the state’s redevelopment process Monday, something that comes as the municipality updates its guide to development, known as the master plan.

Town Planner Donald Sammet presented the overview of New Jersey’s redevelopment law to the Planning Board Monday night. Redevelopment can be described as a plan and or process that improve on development in the town.

Mayor Shelley Brindle, who sits on the planning board, said getting the public feedback in advance of development is important.

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“In anticipation, we have developers coming, I want to make sure if these developments happen … that we have control over these projects,” said Brindle. Discussions of redevelopment are coinciding with these talks on the master plan and they go hand in hand, officials explained.

One key facet of any redevelopment would include improvements to create a “vibrant downtown,” Brindle said. State law requires municipalities to reexamine and update their master plans every 10 years.

A number of master plan discussions occurred between March and April focused on topics ranging from parking in the downtown to the need for soccer fields.

Sammet referenced other nearby communities including Summit, Cranford and Garwood as having existing redevelopment projects ranging from improvements near train stations to mixed-use projects.

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In Cranford, he said the concept of development was used to help with their downtown. Sammet said the town’s main parties involved in the process of redevelopment are the mayor and council and the planning board.

He discussed the importance of having public hearings to vet redevelopment issues. During a public hearing, people from the public have the right to voice opinions on a topic, such as a redevelopment plan.

What’s the process?

The Planning Board typically would begin the process by having a preliminary investigation then examine issues such as whether a piece of land needs to be condemned, Sammet said. That would be addressed next by the mayor and council, a public hearing is held, and eventually, the mayor and council would adopt a plan.

The “Planning Board holds a public hearing regarding the findings of the so-called preliminary investigation report, as well as, site plan review of any redevelopment project,” Sammet said.

The mayor and council designate a redevelopment area by resolution at a public meeting and adopt a redevelopment plan by ordinance, something for which a public hearing is required.

Sammet also told the board that there is a course given by the NJ Redevelopment Authority, which Sammet took in Trenton about two years ago. He suggested that if interested, board members could learn more about redevelopment by taking the course.

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