MontClairVoyant: Taking a Wrecking Ball to Two Developer Statements

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DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Are the Pinnacle and Hampshire developers worried about the lawsuit against their problematic Lackawanna Plaza redo that was unfortunately approved by the Planning Board?

Sincerely,
Ang Ziety

Seems so, because each company recently released statements to which one could only react with these two words: “That’s entertainment!”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Could you explain your entertained reaction by breaking down parts of those statements?

Sincerely,
I Put a Spell It Out on You

Sure! But first I should note that I break down statements by putting them on poster board and manipulating a huge crane that smacks the statements with a download of the Miley Cyrus song “Wrecking Ball.”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Interesting approach. Anyway, one thing that struck me about the Pinnacle statement was its supposed concern about a delay in affordable housing at Lackawanna. Comment?

Sincerely,
Insincerity, Not Verity

Bwahaha! Pinnacle constantly builds for the affluent, providing only the small amount of affordable housing it’s required to provide. So the statement’s Bernie Sanders imitation fails, though Bernie’s years in the Senate (12) evoke the number of variances Pinnacle has gotten from Montclair (12 zillion).

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Pinnacle also said a “small faction” of residents are suing. Actually, aren’t the 150-plus people who signed on to the legal action a lot?

Sincerely,
Minimize Foes, Maximize Profits

Indeed, plus they essentially represent MANY others who’ve spoken against the Lackawanna plan at meetings and written against it in all kinds of ways/forums. But I have to admit that Pinnacle has the support of Hampshire. Kudos!

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Hampshire’s statement basically said the Planning Board’s Lackawanna process was good and fair and blah, blah, blah. Do you agree?

Sincerely,
On Board With the Board

No. Public views were mostly ignored, and excellent alternate plans from residents weren’t seriously considered. If you as a person who’s not a big developer seek a variance for a fourth “blah,” don’t hold your breath.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
And don’t forget that a smaller Lackawanna supermarket was sprung on the public at the last minute, but no subsequent discussion was allowed to try to save additional historic elements of the former train station that a smaller supermarket would more easily allow room for. Right?

Sincerely,
Debate and Switch

Yup. I’d say “the fix was in,” but in a supermarket cereal aisle “the Kix were in.”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Or the Trix. Anyway, as Historic Preservation Commission member David Greenbaum has noted, a better Lackawanna redo plan could make the site an amazing gateway for Montclair. Agree?

Sincerely,
Edgar Allan Potential

Agree. The ideal plan would include the train sheds being completely saved and incorporated into the redo, much more green space, Toney’s Brook “daylighted” from underneath the site, and a Developers Hall of Fame that obviously wouldn’t need any space at all.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Meanwhile, residents of Montclair and other towns are planning to appear at the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting tonight, July 25, to urge better conditions at county executive Joe DiVincenzo’s immigrant jail — and perhaps also urge that the jail be closed? Please provide a brief poem to mark the occasion.

Sincerely,
From Bad to Verse

“Under Joe D/Essex County/gets ICE money/and cruelty.”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
The ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) acronym counterintuitively reminds me of how hot the weather was in Montclair last weekend, July 20 and 21. What did you do to stay cool?

Sincerely,
Hugh Midity

I read the usual news about the vile Trump and the many spineless Republicans who won’t publicly criticize him. Chilling.

Dave Astor, author, is the MontClairVoyant. His opinions about politics and local events are strictly his own and do not represent or reflect the views of Baristanet.

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21 COMMENTS

  1. I will say to Montclair doesn’t really care about “…lost taxes on the project every day it is delayed”. For a developer to insinuate any ward cares about new revenue is just Smart Growth blasphemy. We do Smart Growth for the purest of reasons. Revenue? How crass of the developers.

    On these dog days of Summer, our local pastime is for neighbors to regale the uninitiated on the many revenue streams lost or delayed. It’s just good-natured fun. Neighbors also talk of the other streams – like the underground streams that traverse the 3rd Ward. We know the are their, but the developers have a problem divining them. So, they plan on building basements…where any long-time, knowledgable resident would have had a full, almost therapeutic laugh. We must have the record for longest parking deck build out in NJ. The Council didn’t get around to approving the liquor license until this week! And it took 3 consecutive resolutions in one evening to do it! I kid you not.

    So, when certain people get on their high horses talking up how small groups screwing up the Town, I think of Donald Trump. I have to say I think of many, many other people screwing things up before the small group of preservationists come to my mind.

    So, we have the stupid hotel or the parking deck so drastically behind schedule it is embarrassing. We don’t care about every day we are not realizing these tax revenues. No, the developer has ongoing water problems delaying the hotelthat our 2019 revenues dropping like a rock.

    No, we don’t care about the revenue streams. Some, myself included, do have doubts whenever a developer, our Planning Board, or our development-oriented Council dispense the pixie dust.

  2. Sorry. I was editing for grammar and readability, got thirsty and forgot about the time limit…and timed out.
    So, a unusually large portion will not make sense. The good news is I’m not thirsty and I have been laughing a lot lately.

  3. I also have to give credit all around for the plastic bag ordinance delay. Only Montclair could turn the low-hanging fruits of opportunity into compost. In the scheme of things, the one-time use plastic bag is insignificant.

    Montclair is a very environmentally-aware town that covets the label of a progressive leader both at a State and a regional level. What is significant is the time this minor initiative has consumed and the additional 6-18 months to actually have a ban go into effect. If Montclair consumes this amount of time and resources on such a minor initiative, then imagine how long it will take New Jersey (with Montclair in the forefront) to actually achieve anything environmentally substantial?

    Don’t get me wrong, the excuses to table are all great and valid, if trivial. I think everyone should work through all of these issues in a truly collaborative process. Take your time. I think the rewritten single-use bag ban should take effect in 18 months (January 31, 2020) at the earliest.

    With the pressure off, the Council, the residents, the MEC should use the newly available resource bandwidth to actually prioritize a substantial environmental initiative Montclair can help lead the way.

  4. Thank you, Frank! I know what you mean about racing that five-minute timer. There have been a few occasions where I wished I hadn’t hit “post” until looking over my comments a bit more. 🙂

    Overall, the most annoying thing to me about the Pinnacle statement was the way that developer positioned itself as deeply concerned about the supposedly negative effects of the lawsuit on Lackawanna Plaza area residents and Montclair taxpayers in general. If that Lackawanna co-developer had said what it was REALLY feeling about the lawsuit, I suspect its statement would have focused on its own delayed profits, the embarrassment of knowing just how much many Montclairites dislike the Lackawanna plan, etc. I would have at least respected the honesty, though I realize that kind of candor would never happen. That developer is not exactly community-minded.

    And, yes, those underground waterways are a problem when building in some of Montclair…

    Will respond separately to your 8:38 pm comment about the plastic bags issue.

  5. Re the plastic-bags issue, I hope something is worked out and the Township Council eventually passes a measure to ban or mostly ban single-use plastic bags. Other towns (and countries) have done it.

    Montclair does indeed consider itself an environmental leader of sorts, and it’s true to an extent, but the record is actually rather mixed. If I’m remembering right, the schools haven’t done a great job with recycling, the town uses leaf blowers on its properties, etc. And all the extra traffic that downtown overdevelopment is creating will certainly put more pollution into the air.

  6. It will be worked out. A growing minority of residents have already switched. Duh!

    I do think it is ludicrous that Montclair is trying to grab the spotlight for a no-brainer where we are LAGGARDS – by our own standards!!!! Again, BlueWave Montclair acting Trump-like. It is contagious!!!

    Unfortunately, UMBA wasn’t totally truthful in how many members are using 1-time plastic bags. That was unnecessary and disappointing. But, whether we ban them Jan 31, 2020 or Jan 31, 2021 will not make an environmental difference. So, let the merchants run through their inventory. The key takeaway is that the merchants are using packaging as marketing and many customers desire the excessive jewelry/gift/florist/Rx, etc packaging. (I love the stupidity of the plant packaging argument! I told you I was laughing more.). The key takeaway is that we still don’t get it or don’t care. The key takeaway is the plastic bag ban will not make people get it or make them care.

    It is no more significant than putting a 4-way stop sign on Central. That’s how much it means.

    1968. Oh yeah. Doubt I will get to see that show.

    BTW, your memory on our record is very accurate.

  7. I hear you, Frank, and well said. People already bringing their own bags to stores don’t need an ordinance to do so, and the Township Council is indeed late to this issue considering Montclair’s reputation for having some eco-consciousness. Still, better late than never for the TC to act, and I see no reason why merchants can’t be given time to use the bags they have. In the future, packaging as marketing could perhaps be accomplished by using more stickers and other creative approaches (I haven’t thought about that a lot).

    I’d favor putting a 4-way stop sign in the Council Chambers the next time the Planning Board is about to vote in a developer’s favor once again… 🙂

  8. A leaf blower ban is bad environmental policy. The local environmentalist are throwing out the baby with the bath water, but they don’t realize it. Yes, the Board of Education doesn’t have a sustainability program and they are on par with New York City (BTW, NYC is one of the worst when it comes to recycling and that is where most of our new home buyers are coming from. Scary.)

    Yes, the Council did not appreciate how their development standards will foster a heat island effect, that most pollutants don’t follow political boundaries, that supporting preservation actually advances sustainability, and their congestion pricing strategies are emblematic of increasing environmental detriments.

    But, the MEC is focused on delivering a plastic bag ban while supporting the Council’s development strategies.

  9. I’m curious: why would a leaf blower ban be bad environmental policy? I’d love to see a ban, and the trusty rake can do a lot.

    It is indeed inconsistent of certain entities to support environmental measures and overdevelopment at the same time.

  10. Great idea having a 4-way stop in Council chambers. Maybe we could also put up signage reminding both bodies to use their microphones.

    Perfect. Let’s make the ban effective Jan 31, 2021.

    As to local marketing, packaging is more of a purchase reaffirmation vehicle.
    I think we should take a page out of this Council’s playbook and sell advertising space on appropriate public property – with a discount for local advertisers. So, remove the billboards at Kaveny Field (Grove & Walnut St). Instead, we can sell space on the Township’s web site. We could have insurance companies sponsor our fire trucks and get some ads on FD equipment. Lawyers could sponsor our MPD Interceptors. Medical groups on our ambulances. Others could advertise on our EV vehicles. I recently saw a municipality that sold wrap advertising (like the type you see on NJT/DeCamp buses) on their sanitation and other trucks. Lastly, we can sell naming rights of public building. I would package a sweet naming rights deal for there Pinnacle Township Hall.

  11. Ha ha! Great satire! In a “Pinnacle Township Hall,” I suppose one of the seven chairs that councilors sit on would have to be affordable…

  12. “why would a leaf blower ban be bad environmental policy?

    It is the intellectual equivalent of banning automobiles.

  13. I see your comparison, Frank. Not having leaf blowers, like not having cars, would of course be impractical and difficult in many ways. But banning leaf blowers would obviously be more doable than banning motor vehicles. Unless a property (town land, a single-family home, etc.) is huge, raking can be just as fast as leaf blowing — with no pollution and no jarring noise. I owned a home in Montclair for 21 years, cleared my own leaves during all that time, never used a blower even once, and managed to keep my sanity enough to not start a Facebook page for my rake. 🙂

  14. Thank you Dave.

    As we learned from the plastic bag ban fiasco, more doable doesn’t mean straight-forward or quick. And we need understandable, black & white standards for neighbors so they can easily determine scofflaws.

    I suggest you start with a leaf blower ban for properties less than [pick an arbitrary #]. The # should cover a majority of properties, e.g. 0.333 acres, to be worth the effort.

    Of course, unlike plastic bags, we can’t allow an exemption for the perfectly good equipment one may own. Good, properly maintained equipment could last many, many years.

    And if we standing on high principles for environmental landscaping that are more achievable:
    – shouldn’t the ban include lawn mowers & weed-wackers?
    – should the township rethink its tree policy and continue to give away free paper leaf bags, offer free curbside pickup of leaves to dispose of in China, plant new, leaf-shedding trees that property owners need to maintain, and charge property owners for removing healthy, but leaf producing trees?

    Maybe we should focus on loss of tree canopies and global warming. Nah. Do we implement a light pollution ordinance? Not a hard one. Nope. Instead we focus on plastic bags and leaf blowers.

  15. A partial leaf blower ban (not allowed to be used on smaller properties) would be very welcome. If such a ban happened, and those smaller-property owners have leaf blowers that they don’t want to leave sitting in their garages or sheds, perhaps they could sell them to people in other towns.

    While I also never used a weed-wacker or gas mower (I used a manual push mower), banning those two products seems almost too unrealistic. I’d settle for a partial leaf blower ban, Frank.

    In general, I (like many others) feel the more trees the better. No great revelation there. 🙂 I’d have to think more about Montclair’s overall tree policy before responding to that part of your comment.

    Slowing down global warming should always be a focus — locally, regionally, nationally, internationally — and partly banning leaf blowers would help at least a little.

  16. In an effort to reduce global warming this site should have a 20 second timer. The reduced energy use and the reduction of hot air being expelled by Dave and Frank would be enough to save the planet.

  17. flipside, Frank and I are just having a conversation. He comments, and I reply — just as I always reply when you comment. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    If what Frank and I say online affected climate change, Trump’s much more plentiful tweets (including his racist diatribes about Baltimore, the four congresswomen of color “Squad,” etc.) would’ve doomed Earth many months ago. We’d all have to relocate to another part of the Solar System, and I’m not sure DeCamp has interplanetary routes…

  18. Well, I didn’t post yesterday and I used only reusable bags, so I must be saving the planet…at least for one day.

  19. LOL, Frank! Great response!

    (I could have said “excellent response,” but that would have used more planet-wrecking pixels. 😉 )

Comments are closed.