Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Council Mulls Transit Village Zone Ordinance

Proposed zoning changes for a portion of South Avenue drew suspicion Monday that they were geared to a developer in the wings.

The TOD-N ordinance would affect the north side of the street only, between McDonald’s to the east and Central Street to the west. The zone is within a quarter mile of the Netherwood train station and reflects tenets of transit-oriented development by allowing increased density of 75 units per acre and building heights up to five stories. Rules call for mixed use, commercial at street level and residential above. The parking ratio would be one space for each unit and one bike rack space as well.

Although no applications are on file, there has been talk for weeks of an Ohio firm being interested in the G.O. Keller property at South and Leland avenues. Omnipointe has sought a conceptual hearing by the Planning Board of its plans. Click here to learn more about Omnipointe.

On Monday, the council was asked to decide whether studio apartments should be included. Council members had no objections, but preferred ownership of residential units to rentals. Planning Director William Nierstedt also brought up a new issue, a Supreme Court decision that came down just last week regarding open space. The new zoning would allow a developer to pay for open space somewhere else in the city in lieu of providing it on site, but the court had ruled against such arrangements, Nierstedt said.

Councilman William Reid, who was appointed in January to replace Councilman Cory Storch as liaison to the Planning Board, assured members that planners had thoroughly examined all aspects of the zoning change. He said the change would create the “first of the transit-oriented districts” and that perhaps people who work in New York would choose to live there.

Storch said the city should not just look at “narrow strips,” but should look also across the street and at North Avenue. He said having the zoning changed before a developer filed plans “strips us of our elbow room” to negotiate terms. Storch called for more community input, saying ”I don’t want to go ahead with this.”

In public comment, Netherwood Neighbors Association President Tony Rucker spoke against the proposed changes.

“When we lower the bar so low they could crawl over it,” he said, there would be no way to say “no” to a developer.

The council agreed to put the ordinance up for a vote on first reading July 21, but it was unclear whether there would be enough votes to pass it. Click here to view or download the ordinance.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The council ahould have reservations about this plan. Great reservation!! To think that the Briggs/Green and their factoum Rahway Councilperson and Plainfield Economic Development Director Jennifer Maier would produce a transparent plan that would be in the best interest of Plainfield is nieve. Their plan is about patronage and politics - not about the long term betterment of Plainfield. The South Avenue plan is flawed not only for the reason given by Councilman Storch but for a more disturbing reason. Until there is a comprehensive redevelopment plan for the core downtown,(Front street to 7th Street)which there is none, Plainfield will not see a turn in its economic fortune. The South Avenue plan, if it can be called that, woud be economically and socially disrupitive. It is the tail not the head in any redevlopment of Plainfield. Sleepy Hollows residents ought to be frightened by potential projects that would be of mediocre quality at best.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

75 units per acre and 5 story buildings may be suited for NYC or Hoboken but in small town Plainfield, it would never fly. Why? Because the competition is and would be of lower density and consequently superior in appeal. We are wasting our time by structuring redevelopment that is not feasible -now or in the future. Like the previous comment, I question the where-with-all of the staff or management that would bring such a conceptually ill coneived project to the Plainfield council and tell them it is in the best interest of Plainfield. Something is wrong with this picture.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also find it strange that there is all of this "proposed contruction" going on to bring more inhabitants into the city - with a hospital that is essentially closed! One of the "main attractions" to a city is a hospital.

Boy, talk about priorities.

5:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now the citizens of Plainfield know why William Reid is on the council. He is the mouth piece for Green/Briggs. How could anyone with a tad of common sense or life experience think it is fabulous idea for transit village on South Avenue when there is no feasibility or marketability study on the viability (economic/supply/ demand) of a transit village on South avenue. Tell me I'm wrong. Bill Nierdstadt and crew have presented the physical chracteristics of the area in compliance with Transit Villlage requirements. They are not recommending a transit village for South Avenue. Tell me I'm wrong.

6:35 PM  

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