SCOTCH PLAINS — The township council this week moved downtown redevelopment efforts a bit farther along as the governing body authorized the preparation of a redevelopment plan for the Plainfield Avenue site that will likely house first-responder headquarters while also introducing an ordinance authorizing a redevelopment plan for a trio of properties on East Second Street.
In May, the planning board gave its backing to a report by its planner that found that the adjoining lots on Plainfield Avenue — one a public works leaf and equipment storage yard across from Memorial Field and the other a conservation zone — met the criteria to be declared as an Area in Need of Redevelopment. For the past few years, the 5.9 acres of property have been identified as a suitable site for new headquarters for the police and fire departments and the rescue squad. A redevelopment plan will include studies of traffic, flooding, storm-water management, environmental testing and the preservation of as much of the conservation zone as possible.
Meanwhile, the East Second Street ordinance involves a proposed three-story building to be located at 1770-1772, 1774-1778 and 1782 Front Street — presently the site of a beauty salon, a building that formerly housed a bicycle shop and a vacant lot. It will be developed by Elite Properties and include 40 apartments and 2,100 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor along with 66 off-street parking spaces. An interior courtyard also will be a feature of the new building.
Mayor Joshua Losardo noted that Thursday, June 30 is the deadline for receipt of Requests for Qualifications (RFQ) from developers interested in redeveloping the four public properties in the downtown business district. Once those RFQs are received, the downtown redevelopment committee will evaluate the applications before making any decisions on which developer or developers to pursue.
In other business at the council’s meeting on Tuesday, the governing body approved an ordinance modifying the zoning in the M-1 and M-2 industrial zones. Last year, when the council approved the sale and potential cultivating of cannabis, it permitted cultivation facilities in the two industrial zones located on Plainfield Avenue and Jerusalem Road. But after concerns from neighborhood residents, Mayor Losardo said that such facilities will not be permitted in those areas and that any growing facilities would have to be located on Route 22 only.
Township Manager Al Mirabella listed the nine streets slated for resurfacing this summer. They include Gamble Road, Montague Avenue, Coles Avenue from Evergreen Avenue to Henry Street, Park Place, Berkeley Terrace, Clarks Lane, Colonial Drive, Washington Avenue and Goodmans Crossing from Martine Avenue to the Bartell Garden Center. He thanked the council for its “commitment in dollars and support” for the road program, adding that, “if we can do more, we certainly will.”
Among the resolutions passed on Tuesday was one urging the state to hold fossil-fuel companies accountable for climate change and to take legal action against the fossil-fuel industry for its role in creating and perpetuating the climate crisis and to ensure the costs of mitigating do not fall on taxpayers.
At the start of the meeting, Duckens Moise was sworn in as the newest member of the police department and Police Chief Ted Conley announced the promotions of Gerard Rites to sergeant and Joseph Citarella to lieutenant. He also announced that David Lavery, who has been serving as provisional lieutenant, was being promoted to the position on a permanent basis.