Friday, September 22, 2006

Planners Fret Over Process

Some Planning Board members were a bit dubious Thursday (Sept. 21, 2006) of the approval process for the East Third/Richmond redevelopment plan.

“I think we’re stepping into a big hole here,” board member Ron Scott Bey said after confirming that neither the redevelopment study nor the plan had been approved by the governing body.

The council rejected the redevelopment study because Planning Board recommendations were not included in the resolution. Had the council accepted the study, the next step normally would have been to authorize the Planning Board to make a redevelopment plan. But an ordinance to approve the plan was also on Monday’s agenda. The plan was already prepared when the Planning Board met Sept. 7 to discuss and approve the study.

Officials justified the speedy process by saying an Aug. 23 resolution authorized the Planning Board to do both the study and the plan.

On Thursday, Bey asked how the board could move forward when the council has yet to accept the study.

“I agree this is not the best way,” Planning Board Chairman Ken Robertson said, but added the board could assume the council was going to accept the study.

“If they don’t, it’s null and void,” Robertson said.

The council is meeting at 9 a.m. Saturday (Sept. 23, 2006) in City Hall Library to discuss the issue.

As the discussion went on past midnight Thursday, longtime Planning Board member Gordon Fuller asked, “Is there something happening that we don’t know about? Is this being sculpted for something?”

No developer has been named as yet, but a June interlocal services agreement with the Union County Improvement Authority gives the agency the right to craft an agreement with a developer (with city approval, of course). UCIA attorney Ed Boccher looked on Thursday as the board discussed the plan, which allows for high-density, multi-family condo development with a commercial portion.

Robertson apologized for bringing the matter to the board so late.

“I don’t know if this is right or not,” he said, “but we’ve got to move forward.”

Robertson urged the board to recommend that the council should adopt the plan.

“We’re either doing the right thing or the wrong thing,” he said. “If we are doing the wrong thing, we’ve already done it.”

--Bernice Paglia


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