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South Orange Planning Board Delays Action on Irvington Ave. Study

Amy Kiste Nyberg

Tuesday, July 8, 2014 • 8:50am

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – The Planning Board voted to delay a redevelopment study of eight parcels along Irvington Avenue, saying it needs more information about how those parcels were selected.

The Board of Trustees is asking the Planning Board for a study to determine if eight sites along Irvington Avenue meet the legal criteria to be designated as “an area in need of redevelopment.” It also asked the board for a study to determine if the entire village qualifies as “an area in need of rehabilitation.” (See related story here.)

The vote to table the resolutions calling for the studies was unanimous. The board indicated it would take up the issue at its August meeting.

“Usually when you’re reviewing an area for redevelopment you’re looking at large blocks of contiguous land … and here we’ve got it helter-skelter,” board member Michael Miller said. “What was the rationale?”

Village planner Susan Gruel said there was extensive discussion about which properties might be appropriate for redevelopment. “The intent was … to be selective and to look at opportunities that may exist,” she said.

Board Chairman Harold Coulter-Max said he was disappointed that no members of the Board of Trustees or the Irvington Avenue Corridor Advisory Committee attended the meeting in order to answer questions. He noted Planning Board members have “a certain amount of discomfort” in proceeding without an explanation of why certain sites were selected for study.

Gruel said the studies are just to determine whether the designated areas meet statutory criteria for redevelopment or rehabilitation. Some of those criteria include overutilization or overcrowding of property, obsolete layout, deleterious land use and vacated commercial property with certain unhealthy conditions.

“Once the study is prepared it comes to this board,” she said. Affected property owners are notified, and the Planning Board holds a public hearing. The Planning Board then makes a recommendation to the Board of Trustees about whether the areas should be designated for redevelopment or rehabilitation.

“It’s ultimately their decision,” she said.

In other action, the board:

  • approved a plan by the owner of the Family Buffet to divide the restaurant into three separate spaces. One will house the restaurant, and the other two will be rented as retail or business space. The owner also will make exterior improvements, including painting the building, adding a bike rack and removing the pole sign.
     
  • approved a plan for a restaurant at the site of the former Cryan’s restaurant under the ownership of Albert and Yanick Ranieri, owners of the Papillon 25 restaurant.

 

 

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