Tuesday, July 28, 2015

"South Avenue Gateway" Proposal To Be Heard

Land use mavens will want to attend next week's Planning Board meeting, as the board will be considering a 212-unit proposed development on South Avenue.

The meeting is 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 6 in City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Ave.

Rather than write about it, I am posting the very comprehensive legal notice that ran yesterday in the Courier News.

CITY OF PLAINFIELD PLANNING BOARD NOTICE OF HEARING PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that Sleepy Hollow Developers, LLC (the “Applicant”) having an address of 80 South Jefferson Road, Suite 202, Whippany, NJ 07981, has filed an application (the “Application”) with the City of Plainfield Planning Board (the “Planning Board”) concerning property located in the South Avenue Gateway Redevelopment Plan (the “Redevelopment Plan”) and designated on the official tax map of the City of Plainfield as Block 625, Lots 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, commonly known as 1340-1426 South Avenue (State Route 28), a portion of Block 625, Lots 60 & 61, commonly known as 1351-1357 East Seventh Street, a portion of the existing Old South Avenue right-of-way, and Block 625.01, Lot 1 (the “RedevelopmentTract”). The Application seeks Preliminary and Final Site Plan Approval, and Minor Subdivision Approval, with deviations, variances, and design waivers, to construct two, 4-story residential apartment buildings, containing a total of 212 units, 302 garage and surface parking spaces, and other related improvements on the Redevelopment Tract. The Minor Subdivision proposes to subdivide the rear portions of existing Block 625, Lots 60 & 61, and consolidate those rear portions with Block 625, Lots 18-26, resulting in three lots: (1) remainder Lot 60; (2) remainder Lot 61; and (3) the Redevelopment Tract. Remainder Lots 60 & 61 are located in the R-3 Zone under the Land Use Ordinance of the City of Plainfield (the “Ordinance”).

The Application seeks deviations from the following bulk and design requirements of the Redevelopment Plan: (1) Minimum Side Yard Setback; (2) Minimum Number of Parking Spaces; (3) Minimum Size of Landscape Buffer; (4) Minimum Storage Spaces Per Dwelling Unit; (5) Minimum Requirement for Number and Size of Balconies; (6) Requirement for Screening of Trash/Recycling Enclosures; (7) Style of Fence Required Within Buffer Area; (8) Requirement of Roofline Offsets; and (9) Minimum Amount of Parking Area Landscaping.

The Application also seeks the following design waivers from the Ordinance: (1) Maximum Interval Between Lamp Posts Along Interior Walkways; (2) Maximum Average Illumination Level in Parking Lots; (3) Maximum Average Illumination Level in Pedestrian Walkways; (4) Minimum Pipe Diameter in Storm Drain System; (5) Materials Required for Storm Sewer Construction; and (6) Prohibition of Trash/Recycling Facilities within Setback and Parking Area.

The Application further seeks the following variances from the Ordinance: (1) Minimum Lot Area for Block 625, remainder Lot 60; (2) Minimum Lot Area for Block 625, remainder Lot 61; (3) Maximum Dwelling Units Per Acre for Block 625, remainder Lot 60; (4) Maximum Dwelling Units Per Acre for Block 625, remainder Lot 61; and (5) Maximum Lot Coverage for Block 625, remainder Lot 61.

In addition, the Application seeks such other deviations, variances, waivers, exceptions, interpretations, approvals and/or relief from the Ordinance and/or the Redevelopment Plan, as may be necessary or desirable in connection with the Application.

All interested persons will have an opportunity to be heard regarding the Application at the public hearing of the Planning Board to be held on August 6, 2015, at 7:30 p.m., in the Plainfield City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Avenue, Plainfield, New Jersey 07060. The Application, plans and other related documents are available for inspection at the Division of Planning office at Plainfield City Hall, 515 Watchung Avenue, Plainfield, New Jersey 07060, during regular business hours.

DRINKER BIDDLE & REATH LLP Attorney for Applicant 600 Campus Drive Florham Park, New Jersey 07932-1047 
(973) 549-7000 By: Andy S. Norin, Esq. 

A Cool Cat

Mau's strategy for the hot spell: Put a freeze-pack in a washcloth and use it for a pillow.

Monday, July 27, 2015

School Board Filing Today

School board candidates must file today (Monday, July 27) for three three-year seats.

It is the fourth year since the City Council moved the annual election from April to November. In the first year, the general election was marred by the effects of Hurricane Sandy and official results, normally announced on the Monday following the Tuesday election, were a couple of days late. They were also much higher than the numbers from voting machines on Election Night, reflecting special accommodations for people suffering disruption from the storm.

Next year, either the governing body or school board could act to move the election back to April, though it is unlikely. The school budget still passes in April for the following school year and taxpayers don't get to vote on it, as noted in this League of Municipalities letter to mayors on the change.The letter states filing takes place on the day of the June primary, but that proved to be problematic for county clerks and it was moved to the end of July.

School board candidates who win in the general election do not take office until Jan. 1 of the following year and their terms end on Dec. 31 after three years, meaning board members come and go in mid-school year. With April elections, members took office in Spring for the subsequent school year that runs from September to June.

While the school board elections are supposed to be nonpartisan, Plainfield voters may be offered slates backed by political factions. Assemblyman Jerry Green and political "kingmaker" John Campbell have backed opposing slates in recent years. Plaintalker has no intelligence on school board slates for the Nov. 3 election, but will report on any that emerge. Campbell himself is currently on the board as an appointee following the resignation of Mahogany Hall (formerly Hendricks). His wife, Wilma Campbell, is the school board president. He will have to run if he wants to have a full three-year term succeeding Hall.

The other two seats that are up are held by Keisha Edwards and Jackie Coley.

Interest in serving on the school board has varied. The board was appointed many years ago, and when it changed to an elected board, nearly a dozen candidates filed. Later a time came when fewer than three candidates filed, and the last seat had to be filled through appointment by a state DOE superintendent for Union County.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Four-Way Stops Proposed on Hillside Avenue

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Residents' complaints have led to proposed four-way stops at two dangerous intersections on Hillside Avenue.

Ordinances establishing the stops passed on first reading last Monday and will be up for public hearings and final passage on Aug. 17. The meeting is 8 p.m.  in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.

The City Council has heard many complaints about drivers speeding on long straightaways such as Hillside Avenue. The ordinances add stop signs on Prospect and Evergreen avenues where they cross Hillside. (Click image to enlarge.)
Each ordinance cites numerous motor vehicle crashes at the respective intersections in the last several years, resulting in injured people as well as thousands of dollars in property damage.

Four-way stops are not as common here as they are in other cities. The first time I saw a lot of them was on a visit to Seattle, and I marveled at how politely the drivers yielded in turn to each other. The success of a four-way stop depends on courtesy, which is sometimes lacking in so-called "Jersey drivers."

Here's the rule for four-way stops, as set forth in The New Jersey Driver Manual:

At a multi-way stop or stop intersection, a motorist must yield to the motorist on the right if both motorists get there at the same time. A motorist should also yield to another motorist already stopped at the intersection

Having frequently seen drivers go through red lights just because they were waiting to go when the light changed, I hope drivers at these four-way stops will actually stop and yield according to the rule.

Are there any other four-way stops in Plainfield? I would like to hear about them, if so.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Taxi Owners Getting Insurance Reduction

Taxi owners will get a break next month on insurance costs if the council approves reductions.

On Monday, the council gave initial approval to cutting insurance requirements in half. It will be up for a final vote at the Aug. 17 regular meeting, 8 p.m. in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave. The purpose is to bring the local fees more in line with insurance costs in other municipalities.

The amendments would lower the amount required for damages to one person from $100,000 to $50,000 and from $300,000 to $150,000 for damages to two or more persons. The state statute referenced in the ordinance only requires $35,000 in insurance, but owners can take out larger amounts of insurance.

The state statute is NJSA 48:16-3.

48:16-3  Insurance; amount; criminal history record background check.
48:16-3.  No such consent shall become effective until the provisions of subsections a. and b. of this section have been satisfied:

a.The owner of the autocab shall have filed with the clerk of the municipality in which such operation is permitted, an insurance policy which shall be issued by an admitted insurance company duly licensed to transact business under the insurance laws of this State or a company registered to do business in the State, the policy providing for not less than $35,000 of motor vehicle liability insurance coverage or the amount of motor vehicle liability insurance coverage required pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1972, c.197 (C.39:6B-1), whichever is greater, to satisfy all claims for damages, by reason of bodily injury to, or the death of, any person or persons, resulting from, or on account of, an accident, by reason of the ownership, operation, maintenance, or use of such autocab upon any public street; and to satisfy any claim for damages to property of any person or persons, resulting from, or on account of, an accident, by reason of the ownership, operation, maintenance, or use of such autocab upon any public street.

Nothing contained in this subsection shall prohibit the owner of an autocab from obtaining any additional amount of motor vehicle liability insurance coverage from a company licensed outside the State of New Jersey.

The consent shall be effective and operation thereunder shall be permitted only so long as the insurance policy shall remain in force to the full and collectible amounts as aforesaid.

The insurance policy shall provide for the payment of any final judgment recovered by any person on account of the ownership, maintenance, or use of the autocab or any fault in respect thereto, and shall be for the benefit of every person suffering loss, damage or injury as aforesaid; and

b.Each operator or driver of the autocab for which the owner thereof is seeking the consent to operate in a municipality has submitted to the performance of a criminal history record background check.  The cost for the criminal history record background check, including all costs of administering and processing the check, shall be borne by the operator or driver of the autocab.

A person shall be disqualified from operating or driving an autocab if a criminal history record background check required pursuant to this subsection reveals a record of conviction of any of the following crimes:

New city legislation (deletions underlined.)
Sec. 9:15-36. Minimum amounts of insurance required. (a) The minimum amounts of public liability and property damage insurance required under Section 9:15-35 shall be in the following sums, or as provided in N.J.S. 48:16-3, as amended; whichever is greater:
For damages arising out of bodily injury to, or death of one (1) person in any one (1) accident. $100,000.00 $50,000.00
For damages arising out of bodily injury to, or death of two (2) or more persons in any one (1) accident. $300,000.00 $150,000.00 For injury to, or destruction of, property in any one (1) accident $50,000.00
 (b) In the event any insurance policy provided under this Article shall lapse or be cancelled, the taxicab license shall be suspended. The owner of the vehicle shall immediately surrender the license to the License Bureau.

This Ordinance shall take effect after final passage, twenty (20) days following action or inaction by the Mayor as provided by law, or on override of the Mayoral veto by the Council, whichever is applicable in accordance with law, unless a resolution is adopted pursuant to N.J.S.A 40:69a181(b) declaring an emergency and providing that this Ordinance shall take effect at an earlier date.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Community Forum Tuesday

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Grumpy Me

If you see a resemblance to Grumpy Cat when you look at me now, it is due to a condition called melasma, which causes dark patches to appear on one's face, especially on the cheeks.

Melasma, not to be confused with the singing style known as melisma, can just show up. I think mine may have had something to do with a walk I took downtown on a bitterly cold day last winter. Afterwards, my face became so dry that the skin began peeling off. I bought every moisturizer to be had at Walgreen's and even went to Westfield ready to pay big bucks for some Kiehl's skin cream.

Being confined to a dark front room all winter and not having use of my enclosed porch with 10 windows might also have had some effect. A doctor found my Vitamin D so depleted that she ordered me to take 50,000 units of Vitamin D for 12 weeks.

I noticed the dark patches in April.
Googling around brought out the notion that it could be related to my hypothyroidism. But that began in 1999, so why now? The bottom line seemed to be that whatever the cause, it might not go away. Covering it up was touted as perhaps the best strategy, so I set foot in Ulta for the first time in my life and bought some very pricey makeup.

Recently a dermatologist checked it out and blamed it on "sun," which didn't really gibe with being indoors through months of cold and ice. She quickly moved on to more fun things like zapping other blemishes with a nitrogen gun.

So now when I look at the stuffed Grumpy Cat that I bought last year for Mau to play with, I still see a reflection of grumpy me. Just one of life's little jokes, I guess.