Redevelopment Plan For Toomey’s Garage
(last updated August 23, 2018)
Following preparation of a consultant report and a Planning Board Review in July, the Township Committee has designated 104 Baker Street (the former Toomey’s garage) as an “Area in Need of Rehabilitation” as Resolution 158-18 on the consent agenda of the July 17, 2018 Township Committee meeting. Later in the meeting, during Administrative reports, and not included by the Mayor in his agenda overview or on the formal written agenda, the Committee further authorized the consultant to move to the next step of writing a Re-development Plan for the site (Resolution 163-18). The video segment is here.
This process gives the Township greater latitude in discussing re-development of the site with the new owners. The rehabilitation designation allows for the possibility of a PILOT and also facilitates the creation of zoning specific to the site, which may or may not be consistent with existing zoning in the immediate area.
It is also an example of putting the proverbial horse before the cart by moving forward on this proposal without discussion of its relationship to the Maplewood Village Visioning effort. In most prior re-development plans, particularly those involving private property, there have been little or no opportunities for public input. Often this results in planning documents closely fit to the developer’s needs, which in turn limits the need for variances. When minor, or no variances are needed, a developer’s proposal is considered “as of right”, and the ability of the Planning Board or the public to influence the approval process is substantially curtailed. Any zoning changes included in the redevelopment plan become de-facto “spot zoning”, unique to the particular site and potentially not consistent with the surrounding area that retains its original zoning.
A PILOT authorized under this type of plan could be used to re-imburse developer costs arising from contamination, or could be used as part of a negotiation in which the developer would provide some sort of public amenity or impact fee initially in exchange for the PILOT. The ability to change zoning freely at the site could be to meet specific requests of the developer. The township has not provided information on the motivations for the designation of this site for redevelopment.
The basis for the designation, as is common, is citation of aging infrastructure in the immediate area. The designation does not require that infrastructure be improved; the infrastructure is only used to justify the designation under the Re-development Law.
The designation has no legal connection to the Visioning exercise under-taken by the Township and can be acted on separately from any goals or zoning changes that may result from the Visioning exercise or changes to planning for the Village arising from it.
The consultant report recommending designation can be viewed here. The estimated date of completion of the re-development plan has not been announced nor has any information been provided by the Township regarding the site-owner/developer or the nature of their plans.