Montclair Planning Board Votes to Pass SAFE Complete Streets Plan

Montclair Planning Board voted 8-1 Monday to incorporate the Streets Are For Everyone (SAFE) Complete Streets Plan into the Township Master Plan.

Councilman Peter Yacobellis, who wrote an op-ed on the need to to make Montclair streets safer, was among those celebrating its passage. Yacobellis writes:

“I commend the members of the Planning Board for taking this historic action which I believe will set Montclair up for success in the long term by providing the town with well researched guidelines to help us make good decisions around transportation infrastructure as we continue to grow. I want to thank the previous Council and community leaders for all of the years of work that went into this. We wouldn’t be here without them. I’m grateful to Mayor Spiller for his progressive vision and to Councilwoman Schlager for her support from a Planning Board perspective. I also want to thank the Montclair Police Department for their strong endorsement and of course Bike & Walk Montclair for their tireless work to get us here. Lastly, I want to thank the residents and business owners from all four wards of Montclair taking the time to make their voices heard. We can design a safer future for Montclair and thanks to this action, we’re now on the right path.”

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  1. Congratulations. You’ve settled for downgrading an implementation plan to a design guide…without changing a word or the title. So, does this mean that a Township land use board has no ownership of this work product? Personally, I like the State’s statewide product much better New Jersey Complete Street Design Guide. I favor that guide’s mountable curb concept over Montclair’s preoccupation with curb bump outs.

    Anyway, this same Planning Board passed a resolution to protect the historic Lackawanna Tain Station. A year later, they issued another resolution saying it was tongue in cheek and can’t we take a joke.

    Watch the 5 new Complete Street Projects starting construction this Spring:
    the Church St/Valley Rd makeover, the Orange Rd Redevelopment Area, the Glenridge Avenue Sidewalk, The Midtown Parking Deck just down the street, and the Lackawanna Grocery Store Project. All great examples of what the State’s SAFE Plan For Montclair offers.
    (AI, you’re right about the busy streets…85th Percentile Speed…the Table A Bicycle Facility). What is the 85% Percentile speed, or the roadway design speed rating for Grove Street? E, F, yup

  2. From “page 21′ of the amendment that was approved last night: “Such master plan should also include a plan for implementation and funding.

    Aside from the glaring, c’mon people, contradiction that this Planning Board just downgraded an implementation plan to a….wait for it , wait for it… to a design guide…because it will obligate ourselves to follow it! So, let’s restore the clause.

    A State of NJ funded Implementation Plan by Montclair’s consultants, not the State’s consultants, which we could not amend because they would likely withdraw their seal of approval. Do you guys actually listen to yourselves?

    We now need to give the Planning Board remedial training on what a Master Plan is…and is not. Further, we have to give them remedial training on their evaluating projects based on costs…which just maybe is something they may be precluded from doing.

    C’mon PB, you audaciously called the HPC a joke. Can you raise your game just a little?

  3. So, the Complete Streets County gets the Complete Streets Council to kick in Montclair’s share of funding to the Essex-Hudson Greenway Project purchase. And this is going to be a regional draw of bicyclists…but, they can’t bicycle safely on the County Roadways in Montclair (Grove, Valley, et al) because the County doesn’t support it. That makes sense, right?

    And back to my favorite example of the recommend Roadway Typologies for putting child bicyclists on the 28′-wide Upper Mountain Roadway. Twenty-eight feet total. 2 travel lanes and a tight parking aisle on one side. Now, the public owns the Right-of-Way. That RoW is 60′ wide. For which we get some sidewalk, sometimes on both sides, and some planting strips, sometimes on both sides. And these designers couldn’t figure out how to take children off the streets for a 10-12′-wide shared path? Rather than safety first, it seems political expediency is first. That is just me. I’m not a parent.

  4. ”Once the SAFE Plan is adopted into the Master Plan, we see a future in Montclair where the Town Council creates a new Complete Streets Board granted with similar powers to other boards in town.” – BikeMontclair

    When you are right, you are right. I’l begrudgingly concede to the need you and Peter Yacobellis see for going forward. I would have done it differently, but holding a minority POV requires extra flexibility on my part and right is determined by the majority. And it is about he children, after all. Again, I’m not a parent, legal guardian or caregiver, so I can’t relate. You guys would know best.

    I look for to Mr Yacobellis championing this new ordinance ASAP now that he achieve the Master Plan amendment. He shouldn’t let any grass grow under his feet (N’oreaster aside). I mean, he clearly has a sense of urgency. Purpose. Motivation. January seems like a great time to introduce it.

    My only small suggestion is that the ordinance define the Complete Streets as including the sidewalks, the planting strips and….let’s just call it the public right of way. OK?

  5. I have the name for this new Yacobellis/Bike Montclair land use board that is like the Zoning Board of Adjustment and the Planning Board.

    The Masters of Public Realm Board!

    Finally, appointed land use oversight of Dike’s, Essex & Mid-Park Ways; land use oversight of asphalt pathways in our parks, land use oversight of tennis courts and playing field surfaces, land use oversight of nighttime illumination of our playing fields and parking lots. This Board would provide transparency to all the big issues & all publicly owned lands.

    The MPRB. I like it. I like it a lot.

  6. Since my name has been mentioned in connection to this Masters of Public Realm Board, I will say it would be a honor to be appointed the Chair of this new MPRB.

  7. I’m sure the Bike People & their many, many supporters recall that first week in November of 2019. That is when the Council rushed through their plan submission for the new Church Street roundabout at Valley Road. As the Complete Streets People know, the guidance for handling bicyclists at roundabouts – especially minors maybe going to nearby Hillside School – is to locate them off the roadway. Specifically, on a shared path around the circle. Unfortunately, the Council made no accommodation for bicyclists. So, this Council is going to put those cyclists in the roadway. Just like the Planning Board is doing so for the recently approved redevelopment project at 65 Church St. Of course, this Council already killed off the Bicycle Boulevard concept for Church St mall area. And the County is reversing vehicle travel on Glenridge Ave to go East. A key street in the CS Network. A key street that is suppose to connect to the Essex-Hudson Ice & Iron Greenway. FWIW, Glenridge Ave’s steep grade would need extra width for a bicycle lane we won’t see so we will do a Spring’21, $142,000 sidewalk extension…using Community Development Block Grant funds!…CDBG funds controlled by the County!…The same Essex County backing the Greenway project…and asking for our funding support! Not to stop there, Montclair is building out the new Midtown Parking Deck there, too! You really can’t make this stuff up. Clearly, we do not want cycling anywhere on this corridor. This logical biking corridor that connects South Mountain to Glen Ridge. Nope. And that is why bike lanes will fail. Because the bike people just don’t have enough understanding or awareness. It is a shame. Maybe it is time for new bike people.

  8. And I would like the next group of bike people to know the difference between a Redevelopment Area and a development. Maybe even understand taxpayer subsidies versus ordinary variances. Not the advance stuff. Well, maybe try and understand ‘the why’.

  9. Here is the broad stroke for the Council to take up at their January 5th meeting. They need to act now to accommodate a Complete Street design for bicycles along the Hillside Ave/Church St/Glendridge Ave West-East Priority Corridor.

    Yes, it’s also a money thing.

    We should repurpose the CDBG funding for Glenridge. Council and BoCF repurpose CDBGs all the time.

    We call the NJDOT and share our second thoughts about the Church Street Roundabout mis-design and their third of a million funding.

    We ask LCOR/MAP/Brian Stolar to help since they have so many vested interests here.

    And to appease me, throw in a new ordinance mandating bikers wear helmets. To align the public funding with the Public Good! Ya’know, less brain injuries (if only percentage to the total).

    The need for this corridor is truly simple when you open your mind and look – and without this corridor, we don’t have a bike plan. You think I’m exaggerating. Did you look at the Plan’s Map 3, the Priority Corridor map on page 5. Take in the location and distribution of West/East Priority Corridors. [Whatever you do don’t go to the Montclair Pre-K’s Crayola Box version on page 15].
    If you can, go retro, take some White Out™ to eliminate this corridor as an option.

    You think there are viable alternate routes to achieve the goals? Like Claremont Avenue? The same Claremont Avenue the township is upzoning to maximize density. You think Plofker bought all those properties to just redecorate? That the Township just bought the bank building land at a premium for low-density development or open space? That the the hospital built surface parking in front yards because future growth was unlikely? And the so many bicyclist destinations and stopovers along a proposed bikeway on Claremont will drive exactly which ratables?

    And some sugar with the vinegar? Enough people, with Martin Schwartz’s leadership, knew and expressed clearly that the Church St/Glenridge Av streetscape retain its pedestrian scale. The last Council begrudgingly accepted this and downzoned the Church/Glenridge corridor to ensure continuity of a pedestrian scale and equity among modes of travel. And we can’t figure out how to include a bikeway in this corridor? Think about that. Of all the problematic, unique streets in Montclair, we can’t figure out this corridor? All the options it offered, all the opportunities right in front of us – today.

    We have had the same people working on this for over a decade. The same Steering Committee leadership, the same Bike Montclair leadership, the same Pedestrian Safety leadership, the same injuries and death counts year after year (different victims) because of inaction.

    Same old.

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