Saturday, April 22, 2017

Quick Take on Revised Muhlenberg Plan

Picture this: My printer needs ink, so I can't print out the draft and revised copies of the Muhlenberg Redevelopment Plan. So I set up the netbook alongside the laptop to compare them. Mouse problems cause me to use the trackpad on the laptop and the screens are two different sizes. I keep reaching for the missing mouse and I have to take notes with a pencil on changes I see.

For all those reasons and more (exhaustion and exasperation in general) I did not make a comprehensive list of changes. I invite anyone who did a page-by-page examination to send over findings on changes.

The redevelopment plan was to have been discussed at last week's Planning Board meeting, but the meeting has been moved to 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 24 at duCret School of Arts, 1030 Central Ave.

Because the most vocal public comment has centered on housing, I looked for changes in that category but did not find many.  One item seemed unusual to me:
"Any structure, or portion of a structure containing dwelling units (as defined in this plan) shall not be connected to any other structure or portion of a structure containing a non-residential principal use by an internal passageway that enables movement of people or goods."

An addition in permitted uses stood out:

"Building Mounted Wireless Communication Facility - A building mounted installation that facilitates personal wireless services as defined in the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 which includes FCC licensed commercial wireless telecommunications services such as cellular, personal communications services (PCS), specialized mobile radio (SMR), enhanced specialized mobile radio (ESMR), paging, and similar services that currently exist or may be developed in the future. Such installations may include, but are not limited to antennae and satellite dishes."

This reminded me that on April 5, T-Mobile Northeast LLC was listed on the Zoning Board of Adjustment agenda as "requesting an interpretation" of a section of the Plainfield Land Use Ordinance. The location was Park Avenue and Randolph Road and the ordinance cited has to do with parking. As I recall, the agenda item was not discussed. Here's a possibly related paragraph in the new Muhlenberg Redevelopment Plan:

"Parking on the site shall be designed to maximize efficiency and promote shared parking between uses. A parking management plan shall be submitted as part of any application for site plan approval that describes the mix of uses on site, their respective parking needs, hours of operation, number of employees, and any other information that may be requested by the Planning Board and its professionals"

Two other interesting items in the revised document:

"Any portions of the building with historic significance that cannot be retained as part of the redevelopment of the site shall be documented in a report prepared by an architect or other qualified professional specializing in historic preservation. This report shall be provided to the City and kept in the collection of the Plainfield Public Library. 5. A plaque or similar installation commemorating the history of Muhlenberg Hospital shall be provided onsite in a location deemed appropriate by the Planning Board."

"A traffic impact assessment report shall be submitted as part of an application for site plan approval. This report shall include existing conditions assessment, projected traffic generation, a level of service assessment for streets and intersections in the vicinity of the Area, and any other information requested by the Planning Board or its professionals"

This is such a busy weekend that I doubt many people will sit down and delve through 34 pages of the draft plan and 37 pages of the revised plan, but if you do and form any opinions, please share.



  1. Hi Bernice, I did a page by page comparison last night. I noted all the ones you posted and what was interesting was the addition of a hospital, skilled nursing facility and building mounted wireless communication facilities as possible uses. Also worth mentioning is they removed the paragraph titled 'Conveyance of Land' found on page 34 of the first document posted. There is also some changes to the portion discussing 'Relationships of the plan to the city land development regulations'. I have a list of questions concerning planning and zoning.

    Robin B.

  2. And Bernice, thanks for posting the revised MRD plan.

    Robin B

  3. scotch plains refuses the mobile towers now let dump on plainfield because they don't care about their property values.

    1. Cell towers have been on Muhlenberg for a very long time. In fact turkey vultures, hawks, and other birds like to perch on these towers. There are lease agreements, and these agreements can be viewed in the Union County Land records. Access must be given to the companies that have their equipment collocated there.

      As far as Scotch Plains goes, there was a major case - the location of a cell tower in Hillside Cemetery. It was taken to court, and now the tower is in the cemetery. Scotch Plains has cell towers just like Plainfield.

      The cell companies must comply with the regulations of the Federal Communications Commission.

      It will be interesting to see what happens with the cell towers if the tall buildings on the Muhlenberg site are removed. Stay tuned.

  4. Putting the wireless cell tower/antenna in as permitted uses probably legalizes what is already on the building. However, without restrictions/controls elsewhere in the Zoning Ordinance, this may open the door for a wireless installation somewhere on the building that neighbors may not favor.

    The historic building escape clause will allow demo of oldest portions by writing a report that requires no approval and that will be filed away to document their uncontested reasons. They should at least clarify that the architect must also specialize in historic preservation.

  5. Why I think the housing cannot be connected.

    Co Location Issues.

    In Essex County there was an issue with a building housing Day Care also servicing Court Ordered Domestic Violence Therapy Groups. They had to assure that there would be no overlap in the times that would cause the two populations to meet. I don't think a "dwelling' would be allowed to make that compromise.

    Didn't a local private school lose their location due to the church deciding to rent to Prisoner Re Entry?

    Would there be restrictions related to individuals who are registered sex offenders or would those restrictions only relate to a facility or group home and not individuals?

    The location of the Public School facilities and tennis courts, across the street, probably wont restrict the usage.