A revised master plan, which includes recommendations in regards to future projects that may come about in the coming years, was approved by the Planning Board Wednesday night following a public hearing.
Planners have been working with engineers of Remington and Vernick over the past few months on the re-examination process of the master plan, a practice which is recommended to be done every six years or so. According to the engineers, the last time the master plan was updated was 2003.
Both Planning Board Chairman Henry Dobelaar and Mayor Rose Heck, who also sits on the planning board, decided to include a public portion to the process in order to hear input from the community.
Engineers Chris Brown and Joseph Petrongolo provided the public with a rundown of the master plan citing the five parts of the re-examination process which includes the re-evaluation of the existing master plan outlining what changes may have come about in the borough since.
It was explained to the public by the engineers and the planning board members that the master plan works as a blueprint or guideline for future plans and the ideas stated are recommendations which the mayor and council can later decide to act upon or not.
Other steps included changes to policies which may have also changed since the last master plan was adopted and recommendations for areas in the borough which borough officials could consider for rehabilitation or redevelopment and specific regulations the borough may wish to consider.
Some of the recommended policy changes include:
- Considering developing a green building and environmentally sustainable plan or amend the municipal land use plan so that the borough is prepared for possible future green development. Petrongolo explained that such a plan would assist the Zoning Board on related applications.
- The subdivision and site plan ordinance should be incorporated into borough code.
- -In regards to the Time of Decision Act, the borough should amend any existing development regulations or administrative procedures to incorporate the change in statute.
- The borough should consider updating the zoning map to update changes made over the past two decades.
Other considerations include
- A parking study for the central business district.
- Recommendation of an ordinance for tree management and in part there should be a landscaping plan included in site plan review and subdivision ordinance.
- A renewable energy systems ordinance in order to protect residents in the future if developer or homeowner wishes to install items such as solar panels or a windmill.
In regards to areas cited for redevelopment and rehabiliation, Petrongolo explained the difference between the two. Criteria would need to be met in order for an area to be declared in need of rehabilitation or redevelopment however in the case of rehabilitation the borough would have the right to work with a property owner or developer in regards to the plans.
Redevelopment includes the idea of condemnation which Petrongolo said he recognizes may concern many property owners but he assured the public that if the borough were to consider any of the areas listed for redevelopment/rehabilitation that the borough would most likely deem them areas for rehabilitation.
Under traditional zoning laws, a municipality can not step in and tell a property owner how to use his or her property but if the area is deemed an area of rehabilitation the borough can sit down with them to discuss their plans for the land.
Some residents of Longview Avenue were concerned about the area possibly being deemed for redevelopment or rehabilitation. George Clinton pointed out that there is a major sewer pipe in that area and wanted to know how this would be handled in a plan to redevelop the land. Petrongolo told him that those answers would have to come from whatever proposed development plans may come about. At this point decisions regarding what to do with the sewer pipe would be at least three steps down the line, Petrongolo explained.
Mayor Heck said if someone wanted to use the Sylvester’s Restaurant property – a location on Terrace Avenue which has been vacant now for many years – the borough would have the right to talk to them about plans if the borough were to decide to deem it for rehabilitation.
She pointed that due to the economic downtown there haven’t exactly been many developers knocking on the borough’s door. The bank which currently owns the Sylvester’s property hasn’t been doing much of anything, she said, adding this may give them the opportunity to get them to talk with the borough and the property rehabilitated.
The master plan can be revised