The Municipal Land Use Board (MLUB) unanimously approved the redevelopment plan for what locals call the Hunter property Monday night. The parcel of land – which is comprised of four lots – is on West Webster Avenue next to the train tracks between Locust Street and the little league fields. The plan is officially referred to as the West Webster Avenue Area 1 Redevelopment Plan.
The board asked Anthony Kurus from Neglia Engineering to review the plan. Mr. Kurus’ firm prepared the plan on behalf of the municipality.
During the presentation, Mr. Kurus highlighted points of the plan and was asked a few questions, specifically confirming that retail would be on the first floor with residential units being on the upper floors and the difference between studio apartments and one-bedroom apartments. Mr. Kurus confirmed the layout of the development and that a studio has a smaller floor plan than a one-bedroom.
Although no specifics have been provided publicly by the property owner, the limits of the redevelopment plan have a maximum of four stories at 50 feet with 60 residential units.
The MLUB discussed various aspects of the plan which resulted in four (4) recommendations.
The first was to have the governing body clarify if shared parking would be part of the plan or if it could be considered as an option. Shared parking is utilized when a building or complex has different uses and parking spaces can be shared, lessening the need for certain parking spaces. An example would be a lawyer’s office in an apartment complex where the same space during the day which would be used for client parking for the firm would later be used by a resident who parks their car when they come home after business hours. Previously this was suggested for another project but was rejected by the MLUB.
The second recommendation by the board was to address the bike path which is included in the plan. A bike path between the property and the railroad right-of-way would be open and used by the public. The board wanted to have the matter clarified as to which party – the property owner or the municipality – would own, maintain, illuminate, clean, repair, and be liable for the path itself.
The third recommendation was more of a question than a recommendation. The board noted that the plan prohibits three-bedroom market-rate residential units. But, if affordable housing becomes part of the redeveloper’s agreement, the law requires a percentage of those to be three-bedroom units. The board asked if language regarding this possibility should be included in the plan to clarify the difference.
The last recommendation stemmed from a discussion about the terminology used in the plan between ‘shall’ and ‘should’. In the plan, the word ‘shall’ was used to mean something was required and ‘should’ was used to mean encouraged. But also in the plan there are terms such as ‘encouraged’ and ‘strongly encouraged’. The board recommended that those terms be reviewed to make the plan consistent throughout.
After the review, attorney Jennifer Credidio, on behalf of the law firm of McManimon, Scotland & Baumann, LLC, which is representing the borough as its special redevelopment counsel, addressed the land use board. She reiterated that the board’s responsibility with the plan is to consider whether it is consistent with the borough’s master plan.
She also asked if the board approved the redevelopment plan as being consistent with the master plan or if it was being approved as being consistent dependent upon the four criteria being met. The board made two separate votes to clarify the matter. They first unanimously approved the plan as being consistent with the master plan and then voted to have the four (4) recommendations sent to council. The MLUB approved the plan with studio apartments, something that it had not done before in previous plans.
This plan is scheduled to be reviewed and voted on by the governing body at the November 15th municipal meeting.
A copy of the redevelopment plan is included below:
Download West Webster Avenue Area 1 Redevelopment Plan