Saturday, November 08, 2008

Netherwood Proposals a Mixed Bag

The defeat last week of the Plainfield South proposal for a four-story, 33-unit apartment building served as a reminder of other plans related to the Netherwood train station.

In September 2006, Maxim Development failed to win approval for 64 condos on South Avenue, in part because there was no retail component in the plan. The East Third/Richmond plan was farther away from the train station and called for 352 condo units and parking for 700 cars. Tying it to the transit village concept, Public Works Director Jennifer Wenson Maier suggested that residents could ride bicycles to either Netherwood or the main train station. But nothing became of the proposal and the developer was recently granted release from the commitment.

A study of more than 90 properties on both sides of the tracks around Netherwood was scaled down to 15 properties, which were found to be "in need of development" in December 2007. Meanwhile, an Ohio firm, Omnipointe, floated the concept of a five-story, 224-unit structure with 30,000 square feet of retail space. An ordinance that would have increased density only on the target area north of the tracks and west of Leland Avenue was offered for City Council approval, but then withdrawn.

Last week's defeat of the apartment building proposal added another chapter to the unfinished Netherwood development saga. After the word got out about the massive Omnipointe concept, neighbors banded together to protest intense development in the area.

Some of the development proposals have surfaced only after talks behind the scenes. The public has received glimpses - a drawing here or there, a vague map - and few details until the time when developers must appear before land use boards. The variety of approaches to development around Netherwood has only one common thread, increased density. Neighbors will be watching closely to make sure any development is done right for Plainfield, not just for some developer's desire to jump on the transit village bandwagon.

Plaintalker hopes to do an update soon on all the redevelopment proposals out there. And as all the legal notices say, anyone may examine documents on file in the Planning Division to get details of proposals up for hearings before the Board of Adjustment or Planning Board.

Forewarned is forearmed when it comes to development.

--Bernice Paglia


Blogger Bill Hetfield said...

Dear Bernice,

Development plans have floundered for many reasons, i.e., conceptually not economically sound, limited market appeal (high density), not part of city-wide redeveoplment plan, and failure of Jenny Maier, Redevelopment Director and Bill Nierdstadt, Principal City Planner to be forthright with the community and lay-boards as to the feasibilty and marketability of these projects at the get-go. Failure to see ouselves as the market place views us condemns us to a community of unfulfilled dreams and continued mediocrity - we all suffer. Folks, there is only one solution. We need to elect leadership with a different vision.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's actually pretty simple Bernice, well at least for me to say;
Any changes to the Land Use Ordinance, or organic spot zoning by Variances via the Board of Adjustment, for the Netherwood / Plainwoood area should be predicated upon a comprehensive development plan that includes Community Education (outreach & input) through a Vision Study as recommended by the NJ Dept of Community Affairs Office of Smart Growth.

If the town pursued such a plan Developers would know what vision we have for the area, and the public would 'buy into' the development as they would have been included in the process and the vision, for this gateway to their historic neighborhoods.

At November's Board of Adjustment meeting the zoning board overruled the neighborhoods concerns (and by MY interpretation the recommendations of the Planning Board) when they approved a building greater then 3 stories on the south side of South Ave across from the Netherwood Train Station. This after over 800 Plainfielders have signed a petition opposing such over development in that area.

The developers say it's not economically feasible for them to erect buildings less then 4 stories. But it's being done in Fanwood, Garwood, and Cranford. And a new 3 story Transit Oriented Development is being built on Ferry Street in Newark.

Here in our own City the Council recently approved plans by a Developer for a 2 story building in the downtown area along Front Street. The developer said that going higher then that was not sustainable at this point. I LIKE THIS GUY! Sustainable that's what it's all about.

The residents in the area of Netherwood/Plainwood would like to see development with keeping the feel of a village, not a city. And if the developers can't make this happen and do it RIGHT, then so be it. . .let it remain as it is. It's not blighted, it's not rundown.

The town must show leadership and pursue such a program. Our Public Works Director has an impressive resume and a talented staff in the planning department. And some of our Town Council people have been advocating and pursuing such a plan. Let us work together on this.

As our nation is in a building crisis. . . now is the time for such a study.

Jim Spear
Netherwood Heights Neighbors

please google SMART GROWTH if you would like to learn more

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jennifer Maier is not a friend of Plainfield. She doesn't live here, and I don't get the feeling she gives a hoot about what happens here. She does just enough to get by. Hope she's gone next year, and someone who really cares about Plainfield and can affect change is in her place.

8:06 PM  

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