Nutley’s planning board Wednesday unanimously approved a master plan for future development within the township, the first comprehensive growth blueprint drawn up since the mid-1970s.
Three years in the making, it now goes to the Board of Commissioners, who will then decide whether to change township zoning regulations to comply with the recommendations contained in the plan. Board members urged Joseph Scarpelli, the commissioners’ representative on the planning board, to vote on the master plan as soon as possible.
Wednesday’s vote is the end result of “visioning” meetings with the public, extensive review sessions among planning officials as well as lots of tweaking by various concerned parties that began in March 2009. Officials described it as a “living document.”
“Nothing in this document is irreversible. It can be refined,” said Richard Preiss of Philips Preiss Gyrgiel of Hoboken, the firm that advised Nutley in crafting the plan.
The text of the plan notes that the township has changed since the last development blueprint was created almost 40 years ago. Industrial areas have seen more residential development and new concerns -- including regarding open-space and historic preservation -- have become more prominent.
Because the new plan addresses these issues, “it has brought us forward into the current discourse and debate about what a city should be,” said member Diana Petolino.
Petolino and other board members also commended former Mayor Joanne Cocchiola for the extensive role she played in helping create the new plan.
The master plan makes several recommendations, including:
- Advising township officials to work closely with Clifton officials in attracting appropriate development for the Roche industrial site on Rt. 3, a property stretching across the border of the two towns. The drugmake merged with Genentech a few years ago and is closing down the site, which would be ideal for another research facility or a hotel or convention center, the plan states.
- Mandating off-street parking for any new residential development.
- Making downtown Nutley, centered on Franklin Avenue -- which in recent years has become home to an increasing number of eateries-- a dining destination. The plan also advises measures to keep downtown Nutley pedestrian friendly and to heighten its “quaint” character.
- Members of the public expressed concern over the amount of high-density residential housing built in the years leading up to the real estate crash of 2008.
To read the entire plan, click here.