Last Monday's planning board meeting ended without time to start public comment regarding the developers proposed plan for Lackawanna Plaza proposal. Public comment will finally proceed this next Monday, January 28.
The final objector’s testimony at the last meeting was extensive and resulted in many subsequent questions from planning board members, the developer’s attorney and the public. The objector’s testimony suggested provided details of the 1980’s careful restoration of assets of the historic train station. Since federal funds for the 1980’s restoration were used it was questioned whether those assets could now be demolished legally.
Developers come with their proposal and a wealth of experience, financial resources, experts and tactics to eliminate opposition. Strategies are used to eliminate opposition, to frustrate and burden the planning board members volunteering their time as well as residents who are likely new to the process and have limited time, experience and resources. For example, no temporary food market has been allowed by the developer since 2015. The neighborhood is frustrated waiting for a source for groceries and this pressure helps the developer get what he wants approved which includes a parking variance for almost half the required parking.
In addition, when this current proposal was presented last spring, thedeveloper ignored the request by the planning board chair to work with the Historic Preservation Commission for a plan which could be approved. Since then only minor changes by the developer were proposed but required new reviews by the board.
In recent months while under oath and providing expert testimony for the developer, a consultant mentioned that he understood that there were several supermarkets interested in the site. However, the developer increases tension by claiming that there is now only one supermarket interested and others have dropped off the list. Thedeveloper also refuses to disclose any interested supermarketconsequently the planning board cannot verify the developers claims of what a supermarket requires. Should our planning board make decisions to demolish historic assets and massive parking variance based on this developers claims ?
Informed or insightful public comment can impact the planning board decision. Testimony is closed now so public comment is scheduled to start Monday, January 28, 7:30 at 205 Claremont Ave. We will live with the decision. Please plan on attending to show interest and speak if possible. **Check for last minute changes on the town site.
Open this Montclair Local article for information about the proposed plan and an alternative by Historic Preservation Commissioners.
***Please pass this to other residents, Like Us on Facebook. For more history of this project go to www.SaveMontclair.org to Notices page.
MONDAY NIGHT PUBLIC ATTENDANCE AND COMMENTS CAN HELP.
Developer uses scare tactics to manipulate residents to help him get his plan approved. **Please pass notice to others to show up Monday. Like Us on Facebook.
The planning board sympathizes with local residents in the food desert perpetuated by the developer and feels pressure to approve a plan which allows almost half the required parking for this over sized market, retail and office site and destroy parts of a valued historic landmark, based on unsubstantiated claims from this developer who says that this is what any supermarket wants.
In contrast a supermarket design expert explained that this is not necessarily the case. This expert said a smaller attractive market using the train station intact would draw more customers, have the required parking and be more aligned with grocer industry trends. There are supermarket companies who pride themselves in building within converted buildings to enhance the shopping experience.
The town has been held hostage by the developer since the Pathmark closed in 2015 and he did not allow any temporary market at the site. Local town Facebook sites such as Secret Montclair are used by this developer to manipulate the neighboring residents to help him get approval for his plan by stating " if you want a supermarket come to the January 14 meeting."
In reality, the town stipulates a supermarket be part of the development and according to the developer the project is years away. Efforts are best spent asking the Mayor and Counsel to insist that the developer finally allow a temporary food market and to propose a new and reasonable plan for our downtown.
Everyone wants a supermarket but more residents need to speak out for a development which enhances the downtown neighborhood and a market which will stay open in a fast changing grocery industry.
This Monday, January 14 at 7:30 in the town hall, the Planning Board is expected to hear final testimonies from professionals objecting to the developer's current plan and then have the public comment period before the Planning Board votes. During the last meeting professionals offered alternatives which provided a plan with safer and more accessible pedestrian access, dividing the parking and traffic flow and a offered an attractive alternative market using and not disturbing historic assets.
Planning board members take direction and ultimately vote based on legalities and zoning regulations as well as information from various sources including consulting professionals, town officials and developers and residents. Public comment is when residents can offer valuable insight with relevant professional knowledge or specific concerns about how the plan will affect them.
For more history and details of the Lackawanna Plaza proposal see further notices below on this page.
***Please pass on to others to come Monday and speak out. Like us on Facebook.
Details of Redevelopment Area Proposals
Council Email addresses, Meeting Agendas and Minutes
HPC Meeting Agendas
Planning Board Agendas