Allowing residents to print out parking permits at home rather than waiting in line and tackling some of the worst potholes and road conditions in Montclair by fall, were among the ideas and issues discussed at last night’s Montclair council meeting.
Passed were two resolutions and a pending ordinance adopting the rehabilitation plan for the Eastern Gateway area centered around Bloomfield Avenue and Pine Street. The ordinance had been tabled at the council’s June 18 at the suggestion of Fourth Ward Councilor Renée Baskerville, who had recommended that the hearing on the ordinance be continued into the July 9 meeting so that the council could review recommendations from the Montclair Housing Commission in the intervening three-week period.
Affordable Housing Units To Be Maintained at Montclarion
Mayor Robert Jackson, in a discussion with resident William Scott, noted that the affordable housing controls on 12 existing units in the Montclarion building owned by developer Richard Poulton, who is looking to build new units next to the Montclarion, run out in 2019. He said that if Poulton were to build a 40-unit apartment building adjacent to the Montclarion and if the affordable housing controls on the existing units were allowed to expire, there would only be eight affordable housing units – satisfying the 20 percent inclusionary zoning ordinance – when all was said and done. The current plan calls for keeping controls on the existing apartments and providing two new units in the new building for a total of 14 affordable units – two fewer than what the commission has recommended. Mayor Jackson said that allowing Poulton to provide 14 units in all would be reasonable, and it would allow current residents of the Montclarion’s affordable housing units to remain in their homes.
“Most of the people that are in those units,” he said, “have been [there] almost from day one. And so, they’re long-time Montclair people, and that we would essentially be kicking them out, because they can’t afford to stay with the higher rents.”
Both Mayor Jackson and Scott agreed that improvements to the existing apartments should be made to make them comparable to the new ones. The ordinance, which authorizes a rehabilitation plan, passed unanimously.
Town Waits On DeCozen Lot For Police Dept.
Another redevelopment issue concerned the DeCozen lot next to the police headquarters, which the township wants to acquire for the police department. Township Attorney Ira Karasick said that attempts to reach owner Frank Cerino in an effort to negotiate a sale of the lot to the township had been fruitless, only to learn that Cerino was now awaiting an appraisal of his own, which Cerino told the Planning Board in its meeting the night before. Cerino, who has been offered the township-appraised value of the land, had claimed at the Planning Board meeting that the appraisal in question was $350,000; Mayor Jackson, a Planning Board member, said the value was $475,000. Karasick, sensing a possibly long court fight, said that an eminent domain ordinance was necessary to avoid such a scenario.
Roads That Need Paving, Milling To Be Identified, Improved This Fall
Township Manager Marc Dashield addressed the condition of Montclair’s streets and roads, indicating that he wanted to set up a program that allows the township to deal with streets with bad potholes and bumpy surfaces by milling and paving or overlaying small sections of streets as opposed to entire streets to extend the streets’ lifespans. Dashield recommended that canceling bond ordinances going back as far as the year 2000 could free up to $250,000, which would not add to the debt, to make the necessary repairs, and he also proposed going through the Morris County Cooperative Pricing Council, of which Montclair is a member, to expedite contracts for the work to get it underway by late summer. The Morris County Cooperative Pricing Council allows members to pool their purchasing power to receive discounts on various municipal services and supplies.
“What we want to do is identify roads throughout town sections of roads that need those improvements,” Dashield explained, “and improve those sections by the fall of this year.” The idea is to tide the township over until more funding is available. Funding approved for streets for this year would not be available until next spring.
Both Dashield and Steve Wood, director of the Montclair Department of Community Services, asked the township council to suggest streets that need improvement. Wood said that the money available wouldn’t go very far unless DCS concentrated only on the worst sections of the worst streets all across town. He cited a particularly bad section of Cedar Avenue that needed repaving, saying it would be cost-effective to concentrate on that section than on the whole avenue in order to tend to other bad pavement elsewhere in town. “Everyone’s got areas that they drive over all the time, “he said. “We gotta get moving right away.” His goal was to identify these areas and map then out with the contractors and get them on board so DCS could make repairs needed now and then “hit the ground running” with repairs for 2014 being funded in advance this year.
Click and Park Instead of In-Person Parking Permit Service
Dashield also discussed the operations of the parking utility, reporting that he issued a request for proposals (RFPs) for permit management computer software systems to issue permits and got eight responses. Under the Click and Park proposal, he said, all of this would be automated and done online, allowing residents to print out counterfeit-proof permits at home, which would allow residents to accommodate guests as well as make it generally convenient by saving a trip to the municipal building. Click and Park also has a call center service for people without personal computers, and it can provide kiosks at different locations. Dashield recommended going with Click and Park and hoped to move quickly within the next couple of months.
Dashield said that Click and Park would cost $175,000 as opposed to the current system’s cost of $149,000. “It’s a little bit more expensive than we currently do,” he said, but we’re also providing some enhanced services.” In response to Third Ward Councilor Sean Spiller’s question about added costs, Dashield explained that the extra cost would be rolled into fees without any additional burden on taxpayers.
Also, a resolution was passed to issue renewed licenses for liquor retailers, but with an amendment to withhold renewal for South End Liquors on Orange Road to get the store’s owner to remove liquor ad posters from the adjacent empty store, which he also owns. Local artists have wanted to use the windows in the vacant store for art displays as part of the South End’s revitalization program.