By LINDA MOSS
Tackling a varied agenda on Monday night, the Township Council heard details about implementing a Complete Streets program and voted to amend the Orange Road redevelopment plan to include townhouses and two-family dwellings as a permitted use.
At its conference meeting, the local governing body also gave final approval, on second reading, to reduce the speed limit on Grove Street to 30 mph from 35 mph. The vote on the ordinance was 4-3, the same as when the council acted at its last meeting.
Mayor Robert Jackson, Deputy Mayor Robin Schlager, at-Large Councilman Bob Russo and Fourth Ward Councilwoman Renee Baskerville once again were all in favor of the ordinance, while First Ward Councilman Bill Hurlock, Third Ward Councilman Sean Spiller and at-Large Councilman Rich McMahon voted against it.
Essex County officials will now have to sign off on lowering the speed limit on Grove Street, which is a county road.
At the meeting Michael Dannemiller, a township consultant and principal engineer with NV5 of Parsippany, did a presentation on implementation of a SAFE (Streets Are For Everyone) Complete Streets plan for the municipality. He was accompanied by Bill Riviere, a principal planner with the state Department of Transportation.
Dannemiller told the council that in many cases it won’t take much effort or money to implement parts of the plan, just paint to add striping or other markings to local roadways.
“A lot of this is paint,” he said. “Paint is your friend.”
Dannemiller said that additional input will be solicited before any action is taken on the recommendations.
“None of this is final design,” he said. “This is just setting a template for every road … There is a litany of design guidelines.”
The recommendations include pedestrian and bike improvements for six street types, categories such as arterials and connectors. A number of the suggestions aim to improve pedestrian safety, including sidewalk and curb ramps, pedestrian-scale lighting, mid-block crossings, mini-traffic circles, curb extensions and “pedestrian refuge islands,” according to Dannemiller.
Paul Mickiewicz, a board member of Bike & Walk Montclair, thanked the council for working to “create a network of streets for everyone,” adding, “We agree that by reorganizing our streets for all users safety will improved, businesses will be better, health will improve and the need for enforcement will be less.”
In other action Monday, the council voted to introduce an ordinance that amends part of the Montclair Gateway Center Redevelopment Plan related to Orange Road, a change that affects the site where Ferrara’s Auto Body is located and an adjacent parcel.
“The Township Council has determined that certain changes to the plan are necessary to ensure that future development within the redevelopment area is compatible with and enhances the surrounding neighborhood context,” the ordinance says.
As the redevelopment plan stands now commercial and mixed-use buildings up to six stories tall can be constructed in the redevelopment area. Under the new ordinance, two-family residences and townhouses are added as allowed uses on Orange Road, with permitted heights of 2 1/2 stores and three stories, respectively. Multi-family residences can be no taller than three stories under the ordinance.
Jackson said that the redevelopment-plan revisions will make future projects in the property by Ferrara’s more compatible with the residences across the street on Orange Road, “which I think is appropriate for the area.”
Baskerville added that the council’s Economic Development Committee, which she is a member of, had moved the suggested amendments forward to the governing body.
At the busy meeting the council also approved a resolution authorizing the municipality to enter into its first formal agreement with the Friends of Montclair Township Animal Shelter, or FOMTAS, a nonprofit that provides supporting services and funding to the shelter.
At the session meeting Baskerville also asked for clarification on whether motorized bikes are permitted on township roads. She said that residents who had complained to township police about such bikes riding around Edgemont Park were told that there was no ordinance restricting them.
“I’m pretty sure they’re not permitted,” Township Attorney Ira Karasick said.