Some residents are being very vocal in expressing their opinion that a redevelopment plan proposed to bring more businesses and residential development in town won’t work.
Town planner John Szabo and Mayor Chris Vergano developed the multi-faceted plan, which involves rezoning several properties to allow for more mixed-use properties to be built. Officials also want to cease the increasing of businesses from moving and leaving empty commercial lots in their wake, some of which have been vacant for years. The hallmark of the plan involves a new town center located on the ailing and underutilized Wayne Hills Mall Center property.
“If we failed to bring new businesses here for years, we should be asking why our officials failed to bring them here in the first place,” said Al Frech, who has spoken out at public meetings about the plan since it was introduced last month. “The plan is more of a matter of a few big properties and their owners who want to sell them at a high price. They’re looking to have them developed so they can sell them.”
The plan calls for several mixed-use facilities to be built. These buildings could have commercial stores on the ground floor and residential units above them. Officials want more high-end rental properties and units that appeal to young professionals.
Louis Alaimo , a colleague of Frech’s, wants to see more data on the possible secondary effects of the plan, like traffic.
Szabo said that the plan places a greater emphasis on using mass transit by implementing transportation hubs and more walkways on the properties.
“We have no traffic studies that we can read to see if what they are telling us is true,” Alaimo said.
Szabo showed residents several examples of similar successful redeveloped town centers in North Jersey.
Residents created a website to debunk several “myths” they claim the plan contains.
Residents can ask Szabo and other officials questions about the plan at the next Planning Board meeting Monday. The meeting will be held in the council chamber in town hall beginning at 7:30 p.m.