By LINDA MOSS
The Township Council on Tuesday night sent a proposed redevelopment plan for Lackawanna Plaza back to the Planning Board.
At a packed conference meeting, Mayor Robert Jackson suggested that the board be given an opportunity to come to an agreement or consensus on four suggestions that the council’s Economic Development Committee — Deputy Mayor Robin Schlager, Third Ward Councilman Sean Spiller and Fourth Ward Councilwoman Renee Baskerville — disagreed with the board on regarding the redevelopment.
The board made 19 recommendations in all to a proposed 92-page redevelopment plan for Lackawanna Plaza, the site of a historic train station and once home to a Pathmark, which closed two years ago next month. Jackson had asked the EDC to study those suggestions to see which ones it thought the council should implement.
Last month the EDC went before the board to explain that it agreed with most, 15, of the board’s 19 recommendations. Those included preserving the historic features of the site on Bloomfield Avenue, making more open space available at the parcel, and downsizing the number of residential units to 280 from 350.
But there were four items where the board and the EDC parted ways. For example, the EDC nixed the board’s suggestion that a supermarket to replace the Pathmark potentially be placed on the eastern parcel of the property, an area across Grove Street that is now a parking lot.
The full council agreed with the suggestions that the EDC made. The mayor, noted that the disagreements between the EDC and board “seem to be very limited,” then asked for the proposed redevelopment plan go back to the board so it and the council could come to some kind of consensus on the four items where there was disagreement.
“I think we could probably come up with a better plan, an even better plan, to have them [the board] say, ‘Look, here’s what we see. Here’s the concerns. Take another look at these issues,'” Jackson said. “We agree on 15 out of 19, why don’t you guys take another look at it and see if there’s some way we can get 19 out of 19, so everybody is on the same page about where it should go and the shape of it.”
Kathleen Bennett, chair of the Montclair Historic Preservation Commission, was at the council meeting.
“Thank you for punting it [the redevelopment plan] back to the planning board,” she said.
Bennett also asked that her commission be allowed to to review the next iteration of the redevelopment plan, and Jackson said yes.
The Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment will include retail and parking, as well as a multifamily component. As it is envisioned now, it will be anchored by a larger supermarket, with ShopRite as a potential anchor tenant.