As you roam the pages of this site, provided you do so long enough, you will be able to piece together a complex, twisting story of a our small community working through its most significant development decision in recent times.
The story includes a long period–nearly 20 years–in which officials grew increasingly insular and self-determined in their approach to land-use management in our community. By the time this project became a matter of public comment (2012) officials¹ were able to say, with conviction, “well, the development of this site has been discussed for years, going back to the 90s”–and never once reflect on whether their direction might be subject to revision with the passage of time or in the light of community review.
By 2015, as the Clarus Maplewood proposal was being prepared for its Planning Board hearing, an “off the line” (i.e., not endorsed by the local Democratic party) candidate had a record-breaking win on a platform that featured review of the Township’s assumptions regarding the project. In the Spring of 2015 a non-profit organization, Village Keepers, formed and over the period of several weeks placed 450 lawnsigns urging officials to re-visit their assumptions about the site.² Suddenly the topic was a hot potato, and within days of the June 2015 primary an organization called “Village Facts” formed. Using a small portfolio of opinions based on review of documents available up to that time, Village Facts ostensibly sought to challenge the analysis and positions you see on this site. Engage-Maplewood, OhNo60, Village Keepers, and Village Facts–four grass-roots efforts engaged in the public discourse of plans for the site. And they were not alone..
So the historical decision to approve and develop Clarus Maplewood has made a mark on our community more than befitting its substantial ambitions. As a community we now have an extensive docket available to inform future land-use processes and decisions in our Township. And while there have been years of speculation on what this project might actually be, today we simply must live with it as a reality–it is #nolongervillagefiction!
- We started² with a handful of balloons and a dozen intrepid photographers in the Winter of 2015. To read more about this and see a collection of images, start here.
- Information sharing and analysis were our main focus. The official documents, supporting information, and 100 pounds of hands-outs is still available.
- If it’s process and procedure that interests you, take a look at the time line.
- Or, jump into an assortment of articles history, values, inclusiveness and development goals. This is where we feel the hurt. With a red balloon for a mascot, the conversation keeps coming back to height–but the way our Township goes about using (or selling!) public assets is what really “inflated” this project for us!
¹ Jerry Ryan, former Township Committee member (and recently appointed Planning Board chair) was in office through most of that period and emphasized this view more than once during hearings and Township Committee meetings.
² 450 lawnsigns is thought to be near a local record; the 2001 Property Reval issue is thought to have resulted in approximately 500.
³ Engage-Maplewood, formed in 2013, lobbied the township for a more inclusive, and better documented, process prior to the Township engaging potential developers. Some of that history can be found via our No Longer Village Fiction page, and on the original web site, www.engage-maplewood.org.
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This site chronicles the five year public process leading to the construction of Clarus Maplewood. We recently re-arranged it to provide easier access chronologically or by topic area. Check out the changes by using the search box, or using the project overview.