Formerly dominated by Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center, the site has had only a satellite emergency department for medical treatment since the hospital closed in 2008.
The City Council approved hiring Heyer, Gruel & Associates of Red Bank in October 2013 at a cost not to exceed $48,000. The firm held three community meetings in early 2014 for input from residents, who overwhelmingly insisted on a medical use for the campus, with no residential development. The study results included 100 units of veterans' housing and 36 apartments, a far cry from the 600 apartments proposed by JFK Health System for the site, but still rejected by the public.
"I understand there is a final plan somewhere," he said, noting no additions to what was handed out Thursday.
Deputy City Administrator for Economic Development Carlos Sanchez said there was a minor change, deletion of health-related veterans' housing due to community concerns at an Aug. 14 meeting.
"I look at this and see zoning and code changes, not development," Scott-Bey said.
But board member Gordon Fuller pointed out a developer could come in and ask for variances "and we'll be back where we started."
"We are kind of operating blindly," board member Horace Baldwin said. "I really don't feel we're in a position to effectively assess what's being proposed."
The study results are posted on the city web site. There is a recommendation for a "healthcare campus zone" and a page with next steps was up briefly, but has since disappeared.
Black and white copies handed out Thursday were barely legible, but audience members familiar with the results offered comments.
"Why is this discussion even taking place?" resident Robin Bright said, noting the city does not own the site and should figure out how to acquire it if city officials want to make a plan.
Bright asked what the current zoning is, and Planning Director Bill Nierstedt said it was a professional office zone, which permits single- and two-family dwellings, mixed-use dwellings, apartments, medical offices, hospital and child-care centers.
Dr. Harold Yood said he agreed with Scott-Bey, calling it "premature even to discuss this."
Nancy Piwowar cited historic aspects of the Muhlenberg campus that she felt were going to bring attention to Plainfield, and also repeated the advice she gave at the Aug. 14 meeting, to make sure a title search of the property is done.
Dottie Gutenkauf told the board it was "very clear" that they were in a very preliminary situation, but she said there is a "distinct community sense of what Plainfield needs and what Plainfield does not need." She urged Sanchez to "find somebody who wants to revive a hospital."