Peter Yacobellis noted yesterday afternoon in his email to some constituents that the Council vote on the latest Lackawanna Plan is on the agenda tonight, contrary to last week’s announcement.
Last Tuesday, David Cummings declared several times at his public meeting in the 4th ward reviewing this Plan that the Council would not vote at tonight’s meeting since he would be away.
**Please pass this notice to other residents and see SaveMontclair.org for more history of development in Montclair.
If you can make it, public attendance is very important at the Council meeting tonight to show elected officials you are watching and you care. Effectively speaking during public comments or questions is even more helpful. Since there is an extensive list of agenda items in old business before Lackawanna comes up in new business, you may want to watch the meeting progress on TV34 and come to the town hall in person when it looks like old business will end.
Residents who have followed town proceedings regarding development for many years are not surprised to see what look like tactics to avoid the rigors of proper public engagement. We have to wonder what motivates elected officials to continue to work against voter wishes.
Examples of following the law but minimizing public engagement may happen when important meetings and agenda items are scheduled at the last minute, with little notice or when the public is away during popular vacation periods. In recent months scheduling webex reviews of a major development plan gives the town planner control of who is allowed to ask questions by not selecting some callers. Last minute additions to agendas or last minute voting may happen when the Council succeeds in getting enough votes needed to pass an unpopular item. Willing Councilors who are absent can claim the vote was out of their control to their constituents.
When the first draft of the Montclair master plan was made public in 2013, zoning in all business districts around train stations had been proposed with nearly double heights. After the public successfully pushed for the current zoning to remain, during a 2014 Thanksgiving week meeting, 18 properties were voted to be designated “ area in need of redevelopment”. This allows for development to avoid zoning. Council members and our town planner regularly claim it gives flexibility for the town to get more of what it wants.
Our current master plan was funded by New Jersey Transit and written by their consulting firm for towns with train stations all over NJ. Our 2012 Council insisted we use this technically confusing 214 page document although only 2 other towns in NJ did so.
Ever since our Planning Board and the public has spent years fighting proposed oversized projects.
In 2013 a NJ Transit properties official openly stated, " its all about fannies in the seats".
**Please forward this to other residents. See SaveMontclair.org for more history of development in Montclair.
Details of Redevelopment Area Proposals
Council Email addresses, Meeting Agendas and Minutes
HPC Meeting Agendas
Planning Board Agendas