Planning Board Chairman Ron Scott Bey emphasized the fact that many steps remain before anything rises on the site, but in public comment resident Rowand Clark launched into a diatribe against group homes, especially subsidized ones for veterans.
"Plainfield is inundated by homes for persons who are incapable of independent living," Clark said, claiming there are currently 44 such homes now, mostly tax-exempt. He said "50 years of wars" are the reason why there is "no shortage of veterans" for whom landlords can get $3,000 a month in VA and HUD money. Clark differentiated between a vet wounded in action and one with minimal service but having alcohol or drug abuse or "mental problems."
"Is that what we want for Plainfield?" he asked.
Clark described a process that he said would invite an "endless stream of homeless veterans" and was followed by Robin Bright, who insisted "vets with PTSD" were anticipated for the redevelopment site.
Scott Bey rejected the notion as having "no hard relationship to the plan that was written."
"Do you have a developer?" she asked.
Scott Bey said the owner has the right to say whether there is a developer. Plainfield Economic Development Director Carlos Sanchez said the property is under contract, but there are a "multitude of conditions" to be worked out before approvals.
Other concerns Monday included placement of driveways to avoid opening onto Hillside Avenue, environmental remediation, preservation of historic medical implements left at the site, how development would affect property values in the neighborhood, whether Planned Parenthood might locate there in light of the city's pre-natal and HIV issues and how to save an auditorium still inside the shuttered hospital. Board members and residents also corrected typos and unclear language in the redevelopment plan.
Historian Nancy Piwowar suggested establishing a medical museum on the site, noting Philadelphia's Mutter Museum draws 130,000 visitors a year.
Scott Bey said the public will have a chance to comment when the City Council holds a hearing on the Muhlenberg Redevelopment Plan.
The redevelopment process has many steps, starting with an "in need of redevelopment" study which may eventually lead to establishing a plan. The Planning Board and governing body work in tandem through the steps. After a relatively fallow period, the city now has dozens of projects in various stages of approvals. See the highly detailed final redevelopment plan for the largest development so far, a 212-unit, $50 million development on South Avenue that is now under construction.