The needler in the haystack.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

South Avenue project fate up for crucial vote Monday

'Thumbs Down', painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme, depicts the Vestal Virgins
voting for a gladiator's death with the famous gesture.
The painting depicts both the glory and the wickedness of Rome.
(Full painting here.)

Plainfield City Council has been summoned by Mayor Adrian O. Mapp to a special meeting Monday to vote on the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes)  and a related matter for the proposed South Avenue development at Plainwood Square Park.

Though the project has been in the planning stages for more than a year, with several presentations to various parties and previous discussions by the City Council, a majority has suddenly decided to block the project, saying they were left out of the PILOT discussion process.

Council President Bridget Rivers suggest to the developer last month that he should "meet with Councilor Diane Toliver". Rivers did not mention any other persons who should be present.

I do not know if such a meeting took place, but a private meeting of a single council member with a developer would be a most unfortunate circumstance, if not illegal, and would certainly lead to speculation about the propriety of what was discussed or decided.

Nevertheless, if Council refuses to act or chooses to give a "thumbs down" to the project, it may be curtains for the proposal to build 212 upscale rental units with amenities on the South Avenue parcel the developer has assembled.

The Council majority may feel emboldened in its roadblocking efforts because there have not been throngs of supporters speaking out in favor of the project at recent Council meetings. (Throngs are something to which the Council seems to pay attention.)

So, will merchants -- who stand to profit from increased traffic -- and residents -- whose property values ought to rise -- come out and speaak in favor of the project?

Plainfield's future development may be in their hands just as surely as it is in the hands of the Council.

The special meeting of the City Council has been set for 7:00 PM sharp Monday (August 31) at City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Avenue. Residents and taxpayers will have an opportunity to speak before action is taken by the Council (by custom, residents speak before those who may not live in the City).

Parking and entrance are from the lot at the rear of City Hall, East 6th Street and Watchung Avenue.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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