Click to enlargeOnly one property owner showed up for a public hearing Thursday on an "in need of redevelopment" study for more than a dozen properties on South Avenue.Two large apartment buildings and the Plainwood Square Park are not recommended for inclusion, but two single-family homes on East Seventh Street are now included.
The owner of an apartment building at 1332-38 South Avenue made no comment at the hearing after Planning Director William Nierstedt said the property and another apartment building will not be recommended for redevelopment.
In a draft report, the Ardmore House and Netherwood House apartment buildings are described as having "outdated and obsolete structure design" and "obsolete layout." Plainwood Square Park is described as a "vacant lot." On Thursday, Nierstedt said there was "not any thought whatever of changing Plainwood Park, except maybe to enlarge it." The park is bounded on one side by Old South Avenue and could be enlarged. if the street was vacated.
The full report is 55 pages, the last 30 pages being photos. It may be examined in the Planning Office.
Planning Board member Ken Robertson questioned the inclusion of the two East Seventh Street properties and Nierstedt said both have very deep lots that impinge on the study area and could be a "strong impediment to development." He said the issue had not been discussed with the residents.
Board Chairman Ron Scott Bey said he felt discussions should be held with the property owners. Nierstedt said the owners might sell the rear portion of their lots to any future developer. One property has a garage which might have to be reconstructed and the other has a pool. Board member William Toth said being included in the study does not compel them to take part.
Both properties, 1351-53 East Seventh Street and 1355-57 East Seventh Street, were included in the Sept. 5 notice for Thursday's public hearing.
Eminent domain will not be used to acquire any property in the study, Nierstedt said.
The first inkling of a large new project for South Avenue came at a July meeting where merchants and others were apprised of the "concept" of developer JMF Properties. See Dan's report here.
In August, the City Council asked the Planning Board to perform an "in need of redevelopment" study. Now that the 55-page study has been made, the next step is for the findings to go to the governing body, which may then ask the Planning Board to make a redevelopment plan.
The next Planning Board meeting is 7 p.m. on Oct. 2 in City Hall Library. The City Council's agenda-fixing session is 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6 in Municipal Court and the regular meeting will be held at 8 p.m. Oct. 14 in Municipal Court.
All documents related to the "in need of development" study are on file in the City Clerk's office, 515 Watchung Ave., and may be examined during regular business hours.