By LINDA MOSS
This week trash cans were on the Township Council’s agenda, next month the controversial proposed Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment plan will be up for discussion, Mayor Robert Jackson said on Tuesday.
The redevelopment plan is slated to be the agenda for the local governing body’s Oct. 3 conference meeting, according to Jackson.
The mayor made the comment after Tuesday’s regular council meeting, where there was only a brief mention of Lackawanna Plaza’s redevelopment, a mixed-use proposal for a site that is home to a historic train station and a once-active a shopping center with a Pathmark. The Pig & Prince Restaurant is the remaining business on the parcel on Bloomfield Avenue.
Earlier at its meeting, in an unrelated matter, the council mandated that residents curb their trash. In a 6-1 vote it approved an ordinance, slightly amended since its first reading in July, that requires that trash receptacles and bulky waste be placed at the curb, not on the sidewalk. It is an amendment to the current municipal code regarding garbage collection, one required in order for the town to be in compliance with federal Americans with Disabilities regulations, Township Attorney Ira Karasick said.
On second reading the council also gave final approval to an ordinance that appropriates $350,000 from the township’s capital improvement fund to do refurbishing — as well as upgrade signage and enforcement devices — at the municipal parking decks. The council also awarded a $873,000 contract to Abraham General Construction LLC of West Orange to do improvements at Edgemont Memorial Park.
Last week the council’s Economic Development Committee — which includes Deputy Mayor Robin Schlager, Fourth Ward Councilwoman Renée Baskerville and Third Ward Councilman Sean Spiller — did a presentation for the Township Planning Board to address the 19 recommendations that the board made regarding the redevelopment plan draft.
On Tuesday Schlager and Spiller mentioned their appearance before the planning board, which had blasted the Lackawanna Plaza plan as too dense and massive, and for dwarfing the historic station. The EDC told the board that it agreed with roughly a dozen of its suggestions, including one to reduce the number of residential units at the site.
“I believe our comments went over very well,” Schlager said.
Now the full council will have to discuss and act on the proposed Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment plan, taking into account the EDC’s recommendations, which now incorporate some of the planning board’s feedback.
Tuesday’s agenda was a mixed bag, with only the garbage-receptacle ordinance generating any dissent. The sole vote against it was by at-Large Councilman Rich McMahon, who expressed the same concerns as resident Jerry Kapner did at the meeting: What do you do if your street doesn’t have a curb or grassy area to place a trash can?
Karasick said that the ordinance amending the town code on garbage receptacles had been changed slightly. It originally said “receptacles and bulky waste shall not be placed so as to interfere with, obstruct or impede pedestrian or vehicular circulation,” but the final version of the ordinance added “on the sidewalk” to that sentence, according to Karasick. Trash is to be placed at the curb.
That prompted McMahon to ask, “What if you have a situation where the sidewalk goes to the curb?”
“They have to place it someplace other than on the sidewalk,” Karasick said.
Kapner addressed the council and said that his block, Belvidere Place, and others in town have very narrow streets but fairly wide sidewalks.
“The sidewalk is the only place that we have the opportunity to place our trash and recycling,” Kapner said. “If we put it in the street, we’re going to be blocking traffic … Probably a lot of homeowners like myself will find themselves in violation of this ordinance just by necessity.”
In response, Karasick said the ordinance is necessary to put Montclair in compliance with federal law, referring to the ADA. McMahon was then the sole vote against the ordinance.
In other business Tuesday, in addition to the funds for the parking decks and Edgemont Memorial Park, the council approved a $500,000 appropriation for a variety of water-treatment systems and controls.
Referring to Edgemont, Jackson said, “Our parks are lovely, but they do need some TLC,” suggesting that improvements be made in time for the township’s 150th anniversary next year.
The council also appointed Montclair architect John Reimnitz to the Township Historic Preservation Commission.
At the meeting’s start Baskerville read a proclamation, which former Township Councilman Cary Africk accepted, declaring the week of Sept. 17 as Mitochondrial Awareness Week. Africk spoke briefly about the disease, which is an inherited chronic illness that can lead to organ failure, and took the life of his nephew’s infant son, who died when he was only three months old.