Planning Board OKs Two Areas in Need of Redevelopment

By FRED T. ROSSI
For The Leader/Times

SCOTCH PLAINS — The planning board on Monday gave its backing to two studies that found that properties in or near the downtown met the criteria to be designated as Areas In Need of Redevelopment, a move that will give the municipal government and township planners a large say in how the properties are developed.

The properties are located at the former Jade Isle restaurant site at the corner of Terrill Road and East Second Street and on East Second Street across from Sycamore Avenue. Plans had earlier been put forth to develop the Jade Isle site into a gasoline station and convenience store and to develop the East Second Street lots into a mixed-use apartment building with commercial space.

The township council’s endorsement this week of the properties’ designation means the township planner will then prepare a redevelopment plan for both sites, with input from the developers — QuickChek for the Jade Isle site and Elite Properties for the East Second Street project. In the end, the plan will be written by the township, emphasized township redevelopment coordinator Thomas Strowe. He told The Westfield Leader and The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Times that the township will meet with the developers to see what they plan to do with the properties and, if necessary, make revisions or alterations to those proposals so they meet certain township design, lot coverage and other standards. Then the redevelopment committee will review the plans before the council formally adopts them.

At Monday’s planning board meeting, Michael Mistretta, the board’s planner, presented the results of his studies of both properties, which concluded that both met several criteria to be designated as Areas in Need of Redevelopment. The Jade Isle lot, which has been unused since 2018, is presently “substandard” and “unsafe,” he said, with the building itself “dilapidated.” Zoning Officer Robert LaCosta, a planning board member, pointed out the importance of redeveloping the site, saying that East Second Street is “a gateway into town.” Planning Board Vice-Chairman Jeff Strauss said the property “has been deteriorating over time.”

The East Second Street property encompasses three lots totaling about three quarters of an acre — with one being vacant and the other two occupied by mixed-use buildings. Mr. Mistretta said those buildings are outdated and the lots have excessive asphalt covering them. With no storm-water management in place on those properties, which are located in a flood zone, any new development will need to comply with state mandates to alleviate flood damage to new buildings.

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