MontClairVoyant: Petition a Good Addition Against Size of Lackawanna Rendition

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

A petition urging a less tall and less bulky Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment began circulating a few days ago. Glad?

Sincerely,

Signatures Moment

Yes! The proposed LP plan has several good elements, but the buildings need to be smaller. Picture an LP record album morphing into a 45 rpm “single” on an eight-acre turntable.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

That’s a rather weird and retro analogy. How many people have signed the petition?

Sincerely,

Backing to the Future

As of around 3 p.m. on January 11, an impressive 896. That’s 879 more than Stevie Nicks’ song “Edge of Seventeen.”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Pre-petition, some town officials apparently gave Lackawanna’s developer lots of site-design autonomy to “go your own way,” to quote the Fleetwood Mac tune by Nicks’ ex Lindsey Buckingham. Will those officials pay more heed to public opinion going forward?

Sincerely,

Big Love of Big

“Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Okay, you just quoted a song by Fleetwood Mac’s late Christine McVie, who also wrote “Over My Head” to remind us of the height of the proposed Lackawanna buildings, right?

Sincerely,

Tall Tale

Wrong. While four buildings are six stories and one is five stories (even though the ideal would be four stories), the way they’d be constructed would make some of them the equivalent of at least eight stories — which, under Montclair’s Master Plan, would create an English literature class.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Would not; you’re thinking of short stories. At the Planning Board meeting January 9, board member Carmel Loughman suggested that the proposed supermarket be moved to a more visible and accessible part of the Lackawanna site. Good idea?

Sincerely,

Aisle of Right

Yes. To facilitate that move in the Lackawanna redevelopment draft document posted online, I suggest printing out the relevant page and using a supermarket shopping cart to move said page to another page.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

You suffer from ADC (Analog Digital Confusion). Meanwhile, in sworn statements, two more women have accused Montclair’s suspended township manager of creating a hostile work environment. That’s in addition to him already being sued by two other women. Why the hell hasn’t he been fired already?

Sincerely,

Dee Layed and Dee Ferred

Good question, given that the current investigation seems pointless after the damning results of the previous investigation. As I’ve said before, I wonder if some elected and appointed Montclair officials are treating the ex-manager cautiously out of fear he might go public with things that might possibly put them in a bad light akin to a bulb that’s less than zero watts.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Bogus bulb. Over at Montclair’s Board of Education, there’s new leadership and new elected members. Thoughts about 2023?

Sincerely,

District Depiction

It should be quite a time for various reasons — including gearing up the $187.7-million, multi-year effort to repair and upgrade our town’s schools, school sites, and school sights (when photos are taken of the repairs and upgrades).

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Your earlier Fleetwood Mac references reminded me that another former “rock star” born in the 1940s — Rudy Giuliani — is the subject of a new documentary series on CNN partly produced and directed by Montclair resident Valerie Thomas. Comment?

Sincerely,

Rudy CAN Fail, and Did

I was no fan of Giuliani as New York City mayor and in the years after, but his support of Trump’s treasonous lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen has been especially disgraceful. CNN’s full name of course is the Cranetown News Network.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Cranetown as in one of Montclair’s former names? Does that mean MSNBC stands for Montclair Savors Nachos Because…Cheesy?

Sincerely,

Acronym Kim

No.

 

 

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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9 COMMENTS

  1. Such an immensely privileged view to want to hold up a development that will house hundreds of people and bring a badly-needed supermarket to the lowest-income corner of town on charges that it will be “too bulky.” Such a comparatively trivial concern compared to Montclair’s crisis-level housing shortage and the need for a supermarket in the area.

    Too bulky? Is it also too veiny? Too hairy? Is it discolored too? Oh, and there’s that concerning lump. Maybe the peanut gallery here needs to closely inspect it before we can move forward.

  2. Thank you for your comment, cjo2015.

    I don’t feel “immensely privileged,” given that I and my family moved from a Montclair house to a Montclair apartment to afford to stay in town. 🙂

    I want Lackawanna Plaza to be redeveloped, and I want a supermarket to be part of it; I just want things to be on a somewhat smaller scale.

    Also, your concern about there being a supermarket for “the lowest-income corner of town” reminds me that I’m glad 20% of the units would be “affordable” and 10% would be “workforce” housing, but that means 70% pricey units unavailable to people of modest incomes.

  3. cjo2015,

    Wow. You sound a wee bit entitled…and uninformed.

    Back January 2018, I presented an alternative plan to the community, the Council, the developer & the Planning Board. It was more of a tweak to the developer’s plan. It had the housing, the grocery store, pedestrian focus, and a bit of preservation. About the same level of preservation as the Historic Preservation Commission is asking for now.

    OK, my plan was a little light, not terribly, on parking capacity and I played the developer’s concierge parking card. Of course, I incorporated a much higher level of foresight on the parking needs and transportation trends we all find is today’s reality. If the Planning Board & Council had let me use back then the parking requirements they are offering in today’s plan, I would have been spot on.

    But, everyone got greedy. Plain, ordinary “I’m going to get mine” greed. Mounties and surrounding town residents would be shopping in that grocery store today. But, they are not.

    So, let’s be clear. Time is not a driving criteria any more. We blew that opportunity and now, as everyone and their brother wants their time, wants perfect data, wants to leverage the issue, we watch a chance of a supermarket go out to 2027. And we are not going to get our money until 2030.

    I suggest you just roll with it. We will screw this plan up, too.

  4. Dave, the overwhelming majority of affordable housing in this country is naturally-occurring, not extracted from developers as a price of entry. Building new housing of any sort has price effects up and down the “luxuriousness” scale. The path to a more affordable housing ecosystem is to BUILD MORE, period. By all means, extract inclusionary zoning units (not past the point where development stops penciling out, of course). But the action is in building and the filtering effect is the most powerful force for generating affordable housing.

    The more units you stop, the worse the problem will get. In town, across the county, across the country. And for what? Trivial concerns like your aesthetic tastes? What if I like “bulky” developments? And why should these concerns even remotely approach the importance of *people’s actual livelihoods*? It would be one thing if you were trying to stop or shrink a development because it was on, say, a toxic waste site or something. You know, something material that matters to people’s health and well-being. But that’s not the case here. Instead, the crybabies are piecing together a bunch of totally trivial nonsense.

  5. Thank you for the follow-up comment, cjo2015.

    You wrote, “The path to a more affordable housing ecosystem is to BUILD MORE, period.” Well, Montclair has certainly built plenty more residential units — at Valley & Bloom, in “the arts district,” The Siena, Christopher Court, etc. Still waiting for Montclair to have “a more affordable housing ecosystem.” If a somewhat-downsized Lackawanna Plaza redo adds, say, 300 housing units rather than 375, that doesn’t seem unreasonable.

    There are some negative, not-trivial effects from overbuilding — additional traffic, more strain on town infrastructure, more-crowded classrooms, etc. The residents near Lackawanna want a supermarket, but they don’t necessarily want the new buildings to be THAT big or want to deal with a significant amount of extra traffic.

  6. I am confused by one portion of the development proposal. As I understand there are going to be apartments set aside for municipal employees. The concept has appeal but also has consequences. Are these units going to be rented for below market rents. If they are then their inclusion will result in a decrease in the negotiated PILOT amount (the low income housing certainly does), a consequential increase in the tax burden on the owners of Class 2 property who pay the overwhelming majority of local taxes and an increase in the reportable W-2 income to each employee receiving a subsidized unit. Has this been accounted for? Should it be a subject of collective bargaining? Has the proposal been fleshed out yet? Shouldn’t it be?

  7. Thank you for the comment, pelberg. Interesting points and questions.

    I realize that, in addition to the positives, “below market” rents can have effects that might be considered problematic by some. But I think it would be more problematic for Montclair not to maintain a decent amount of affordable housing — the percentage of which has been shrinking here. Montclair is supposed to be different than many other New Jersey towns that tend to be more homogeneous.

  8. It’s going away.

    @ Seymour Alley District they were market rate w/ waitlist preference to Montclair residents. There were no takers.

    Very good questions. No, it has not been discussed outside of back rooms, nor the private agendas.

  9. Thank you for the comment, Frank. The “market rate” rents in that “arts district” apartment building are quite high. I can see why they didn’t get a lot of interest re what you mentioned, but no interest is surprising.

Comments are closed.