A group of residents are expressing their opinion that a sweeping redevelopment plan will destroy the suburban character of the township if officials decide to implement it.
The group has created a website outlining 10 issues they have with the plan.
The multi-faceted plan is designed to bolster the township’s shrinking tax base and stabilize taxes by rezoning several underutilized and underdeveloped areas in town. Most of them are located on the outskirts of Wayne. The plan is designed to make several changes to the township’s Master Plan.
The Wayne Hills Mall and surrounding properties, former State Farm site on Route 23, and several properties would be redeveloped. Integrating housing units and commercial space is a hallmark of the plan. Officials want to place less of an emphasis on traditional houses, which they claim do not attract young residents, and get more apartments and condominiums built in town.
“It’s pretty basic, corporations represent 3 percent of the land in Wayne and 30 percent of the tax revenue,” said Carver Washington, a resident who helped create the website and spoke out against the plan at a council meeting last month. “These corporations, they haven’t gone out of business, they’ve gone out of Wayne.”
Mayoral Democratic candidate Jane Hutchinson agrees.
“Too large a component of the plan is focused on residential use. I think what we need to do is come up with an economic plan that brings in more businesses and corporations,” Hutchinson said. “I would like to see a full-fledged economic development plan.”
Residents claim the plan would have the opposite effect that officials have said it would.
According to the website, “Low-Income and high density housing in high-poverty neighborhoods are most likely to generate positive impacts on surrounding property values, while the same housing in middle and high income neighborhoods are least likely to do so and can retard or depress property values within a relatively wide radius of the development,” which was taken the Journal of Planning Literature.
Residents state on the website that in the end more low-income housing would be built in town than the plan currently outlines.
“The multiple proposed low income and high density projects will only be the first of many, and will Wayne as we know it,” the website states. “The proposed mixed-use, retail, low-income and high-density housing will not reduce your taxes.”
The township’s required number of low-income housing units remains uncertain. The matter of affordable housing requirements remains up in the air due to pending litigation in state court.
Residents also claim the plan would increase traffic and could cause crime rates to increase.
“Studies have found that rates of both property and violent crime are generally higher in and around areas with high-density residential developments,” the website states.
Hutchinson said officials need to “dissect more information” and present the public with what they’ve learned before the plan is enacted.
‘We need not rush this,” Hutchinson said. “We need to take our time. They’ve had six years to do this and it's just coming out now. I’d like to hear their rationale on it.”
Mayor Chris Vergano and planner John Szabo did not respond to requests for comment.