Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Property Owners: "Information Please"

A quick tally of old and new redevelopment proposals shows that the list has grown to about 20, some many years old.

In the last administration, some proposals involved only one lot. The administration of Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs is looking at large swaths of land around train stations as “transit village” hubs. Progress is being made. Several projects have made it through the phases of needs studies, formulation of redevelopment plans and designations of developers. One private project, the senior center with 63 condos on upper floors, has received site plan approval.

Maybe because the Park-Madison and Tepper’s blocks took around 30 years to redevelop, the newer recent proposals did not register with the public until recently. There was a sense that nearly all the new ideas were for condo development at market rate prices. Still, with nothing built, the impact is only speculation.

Plaintalker has tried to map the proposals to get a visual sense of the impact. The most striking was the concept of four transit villages that would encompass everything along the Raritan Valley Line and would overlap numerous other proposals. That one has gone back to the drawing board, but the new proposed Netherwood “needs study” area alone is striking in its scope.

Instead of radiating out evenly from the Netherwood station as indicated on transit village maps previously displayed, the study area’s 93 properties start less than a block east of the station and extend several blocks west. Getting a grip on the extent of the study area meant sitting in the public library with a city map and eight tax maps and a bag of colored pencils. Industrial properties from Leland to Richmond along the tracks are included, along with the city Public Works yard and two lots owned by Sal Carfaro, who envisions condo development on each site.

Even though a study is only a study, several property owners in the Netherwood area turned up at last week’s City Council meeting to voice concern about possible taking by eminent domain at the worst or having business plans in limbo at the least. Of course, there were no answers and will not be until that study is completed and a redevelopment plan drawn up. Then the public can comment on the particulars.

The mayor has promised more public input besides the required hearings at various stages of the redevelopment process. That is a welcome idea. Members of the Plainfield Chamber of Commerce and the Special Improvement District have also asked to be consulted or at least informed of pending changes.

Change is in the air, whether it be Paramount Property Management’s handling of the former Pittis Estate storefronts or the city’s transit village plans. People just want to be able to understand what is going on instead of worrying about the unknown.

--Bernice Paglia



Post a Comment

<< Home