Sunday, September 24, 2006

East Third/Richmond: The Project

A redevelopment plan for the East Third/Richmond Street site calls for high-density, multi-family development to encourage home ownership, with some open space and a commercial portion to serve the residents’ daily needs.

The next step is to seek proposals from redevelopers.

The Planning Board voted Thursday (Sept. 21, 2006) to approve as many as 84 units per acre. Developers could be allowed more if they show they will adhere to new environmental standards. The current maximum is 50 dwelling units per acre.

The proposed residential buildings could be as high as five stories, but the commercial buildings could only be two stories high.

The plan allows for no setback on the front of the residential project and only five feet to the rear and side.

All of the three blocks in question, bordered by the Raritan Valley Line track to the south, Richmond Street to the east and East Third Street to the north, would be deemed “potential targets for acquisition” by the city through eminent domain or “negotiated settlement.” Current owners would receive relocation assistance as required by state law.

The site is a bit outside of the optimum transit-friendly quarter-mile radius to a train station, but officials said a shuttle bus could help commuters catch the train.

The plan only pinpoints the east portions of two blocks slated for residential development, but last week planners asked for future studies to assess the rest of the blocks for redevelopment.

The Planning Board also agreed to ask the city to talk with Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority officials, who had plans to centralize administrative and operational functions on Cottage Place. The authority is the city’s designated solid waste and recycling agency and needs space to consolidate offices in addition to storage and repair of equipment. However, Public Works & Urban Development Director Jennifer Wenson Maier said last week having utilities at that location was not the best use of the land. Planning Director Bill Nierstedt said truck repair was not a permitted use anywhere in the city. The authority’s offices and equipment are currently scattered at several locations around the city.

Until a developer offers a proposal, the public won’t know exactly what is intended for the site. It will then be up to the city’s land use officials to make sure the proposal meets Plainfield’s goals for redevelopment.

--Bernice Paglia


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