ZONING/PLANNING BOARD HEARINGS
to be continued January 30--HARTZ MOUNTAIN HEARING FOR 905 APARTMENTS AT 750 WALNUT AVE, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30, 8 PM, MUNICIPAL BUILDING
WESTFIELD LEADER ARTICLE 12/14/17
reference to redevelopment is below
Hartz Adjourns Application Until February 21 Meeting
By CHRISTINA M. HINKE Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
December 14, 2017
CRANFORD — Hartz Mountain Industries LLC has adjourned its application before the planning board to rezone 750 Walnut Avenue to Wednesday, February 21, 2018.
Hartz has proposed to make the 30.5-acre parcel a residential zone where currently it is zoned for commercial use.
Hartz had presented redevelopment plans to the township committee for a multi-building complex containing 905 multi-family units, including lowand moderate-income housing, pools and a community room.
“When would be the right time to ask for an environmental impact study?” board member Dan Aschenbach asked. Board Attorney Mark Rothman said the board could broach that during the hearing.
Mr. Rothman said Hartz has already filed its application with the municipality and it is deemed complete.
Hyatt Hills Gold Complex located adjacent to 750 Walnut Avenue is a brownfields site with monitoring wells on the Hyatt site to monitor the groundwater. There also are monitoring wells at 750 Walnut Avenue, according to Mr. Aschenbach.
Mr. Aschenbach believes an environmental impact study should be done prior to an application being heard, he told The Westfield Leader. “But I believe the conclusions of such a study will help in ruling this issue in or out,” he said.
During public comment, Arlington Road resident Rita LaBrutto, also a former planning board member, said she had concerns about the transparency of the planning board. “The Open Public Meetings Act says your agenda should specify what you will be voting on or discussing,” Ms. LaBrutto said.
The planning board voted on November 21 to recommend to the township committee that 215-235 Birchwood Avenue be deemed an area in need of redevelopment, without having the item on the agenda, she said. “It’s a big item for the town,” Ms. LaBrutto said. “A grave disappointment for anybody who has been following this since 2008, that the planning board failed to put it on the agenda,” she said. “It is really shameful.”
The board had placed on its agenda posted in the town hall on Monday that it was to present a study on making a portion of North Avenue in the downtown a redevelopment zone, Ms. LaBrutto said, but then was later removed. She said the public had not been given the 10-day notice that the Act requires.
Mr. Rothman said the board has proposed to have the study presented at its next meeting on Wednesday, December 20. The study will not yet be made available to the public, Mr. Rothman said, and it is not yet determined to be on the December 20 agenda because “it is not yet final.”
“It is something we haven’t even seen yet,” Board Vice-President Bobbi Anderson said.
“If a draft is made available as a draft to the board on December 20, it should be made available to the public,” Ms. LaBrutto told Mr. Aschenbach. “I think that is true,” Mr. Aschenbach responded.
The Downtown Management Corporation (DMC) has held strategy meetings, she said, where the DMC has suggested allowing a fourth story in the downtown. Ms. LaBrutto said she is not a proponent of having a fourth story permitted in the downtown in the zoning laws because it can add to traffic congestion, impact parking availability and could add children to the schools.
“I don’t see it as a permitted use on Springfield Avenue across from the municipal building. I think it has its place, such as across from the railroad,” she said.
“One of the thoughts is to have additional affordable housing in the downtown, which makes sense,” Mr. Aschenbach said