Meetings With Foodtown Site Developer Planned
Fozman: committee will meet with M&M chief
A township council redevelopment committee will meet with the principal of M&M Realty Partners to discuss the future of the Route 70 site, Councilman Jim Fozman said this week.
"We're setting up another meeting with the redeveloper," when he returns form vacation, Fozman said.
Last month, M&M representatives requested the council change the site's redevelopment plan – which currently calls for a hotel and banquet facility to be built at the site – to allow 192 condominium units, commercial space and about 70 rental units, depending on the complex's overall size.
The proposal has been met with public criticism.
Fozman discussed the matter in response to a question posed by resident John Zingis during the public comment portion of Tuesday's council meeting. Zingis said he was upset that the process of choosing a plan for the site had not been more open to the public.
"The committee has to agree first on what's going to happen and how we're going to go forward on this," said Fozman.
"That's unfortunate," Zingis replied. "I understand your issues with respect to having some closed door meetings, but the minute that door is open, this entire community has a right to know."
"I think the developer really struck a nerve coming in here at the last minute with all these condos," Zingis continued. "I, for one, do not want to see condos in this town, no more. 192 on Route 70 is disgusting. It takes three traffic signals to get through the center of town."
"If you put a hotel, restaurant there, a bank, you're going to go through the same process," said Fozman.
Dawn White, another resident, asked that the council meet with the Citizens' Redevelopment Committee to discuss the matter.
"There is an environmental consultant, there is an engineer, there is someone who has dealt in the planning board and land use meetings for the last 12 years and has sat through hundreds and hundreds of meeting through the approval process," on the committee, she said. "None of you have contacted the chair to sit with any of us, and I don't understand that."
Fozman said he would meet with the committee.
The future of the site remains, ultimately, in the hands of the township council.
"No matter what the procedures are that are laid out in [the redevelopment] agreement, the redevelopment plan is adopted by ordinance and it cannot be changed in the absence of an ordinance," said township attorney Jean Cipriani.
The allow for condominiums to be built at the site, the council would have to approve a revised ordinance on first reading allowing the change from the hotel plan, then hold a public hearing and second vote.
"We're ready, willing and able to do what the council designs this site to do," said Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis. "I … thought we had a plan in place, and now it looks like that plan has changed."
Council President Bob Moore said the future of the site is "not a dead issue" and there will be opportunities for more public input on the tract's future.