Councilman David Mello urges participation at Thursday Southwest Redevelopment Report review

From the desk of Councilman David Mello:

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Beginning this Thursday, February 2, 2012, the future of our Southwest neighborhood will be a major point of discussion within the City of Hoboken.  OnThursday, February 2nd, at 7:00 PM, our City Planning Board will be holding the first of four hearings and presentations of a Southwest Redevelopment Study Report.  This study report could usher in major changes to our Southwest neighborhood.  It’s vital that all people in Hoboken, particularly those of us living in the Southwest, share our thoughts at these hearings.
Why This Is Important
Redevelopment is a confusing and daunting NJ land-use concept.  A state statute created legal procedure, redevelopment designations and plans can serve as positive and effective tools used by municipalities like Hoboken to more effectively control the development process and successfully implement smart growth plans in designated areas.  Redevelopment can also have negative consequences, if not handled properly.  Your participation in these hearings specifically, and in this long legal process in general, is vital to ensuring that any consideration of a redevelopment designation and plan in Hoboken’s Southwest has only positive ramifications on our community at-large, and takes your views, thoughts, and dreams for this neighborhood fully into consideration along the way.
History of Redevelopment Efforts in this Neighborhood
Many years ago, the City Council voted in favor of directing Hoboken’s Planning Board to conduct a preliminary investigation to determine if much of our Southwest neighborhood meets the legal criteria to be deemed “an area in need of redevelopment.”  A legal designation as an area in need of redevelopment soon followed.  
As a member of the public at the time, I opposed a resulting redevelopment plan throughout much of 2006, due to my concerns over how much development this plan called for, and how few public amenities it planned for (i.e. I viewed it as lacking adequate park space, charter school space, large family-sized residential units, appealing senior housing, significant portions of commercial and retail development, vital flood remediation components, etc).  But, I was concerned with how this tool was being used in this particular case, not with the use of the redevelopment tool in-general.
In recent years, the City Council, as our City’s redevelopment agency, has again taken up the redevelopment process in the Southwest. At our Council’s request, Hoboken’s Planning Board reinitiated a Southwest study process by hiring the planning firm Clarke Caton Hintz to help conduct a new investigation and provide a study report on the matter.  I was the Council designee to the Planning Board at that time, and participated heavily in this hiring process.  
The Final Southwest Redevelopment Study & Hearings
Since being hired, Clarke Caton Hintz has worked diligently to produce the Final Southwest Redevelopment Study Report, available online at this link.  The following public hearings by our Planning Board are the next, crucial step in this process:
  • Hearing #1 – Thursday, February 2, 2012, 7:00 PM – City Hall Conference Room (Basement – Newark St. Entrance)
  • Hearing #2 – Thursday, February 23, 2012, 7:00 PM – Location TBD
  • Hearing #3 – Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 7:00 PM – Location TBD
  • Hearing #4 – Thursday March 1, 2012, 7:00 PM – Location TBD
Please attend each of these hearings, particularly the first, this coming Thursday.  I want every member of our Planning Board to know that the people of Hoboken care deeply about the issue of properly planning our Southwest neighborhood’s future, and that the needs of current and future residents should be clearly at the forefront of every decision makers’ mind each step of the way.  More precisely, I want our Planning Board to understand exactly what we in the Southwest, and across all of Hoboken, visualize as a smart growth future for our beloved Southwest neighborhood.
Please join me on Thursday night at 7:00 PM at the first hearing, and thank you for taking the time to read this.
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