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Township of Hanover News

Posted on: November 13, 2020

Hanover Township Committee Introduces 3 Ordinances Related to the Former Pine Plaza Shopping Center

Township of Hanover

HANOVER TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE INTRODUCES THREE ORDINANCES RELATED TO THE FORMER PINE PLAZA SHOPPING CENTER AND PROVIDING FOR AGED-RESTRICTED AFFORDABLE SENIOR HOUSING

In keeping with the Township’s commitment to providing affordable housing for its senior citizen population, the Township Committee introduced three related ordinances during its November 12th regular public meeting. The ordinances are key to a proposed Affordable Housing settlement agreement currently under negotiation with JMF Properties to address the blight condition of the former Pine Plaza Shopping Center and provide much-needed housing for seniors. All of these actions are part of the Township’s Third Round Affordable Housing Plan, in compliance with the Mt. Laurel Doctrine and Fair Housing Act of 1985.

 

Here is a capsule summary of the three Ordinances:

Ordinance No. 31-20: This ordinance would amend the Redevelopment Plan for certain properties on Route 10 and Mt. Pleasant Avenue (i.e, the Pine Plaza Shopping Mall and environs) that would modify the development criteria for both residential and non-residential development outlined in the Plan.

The original Redevelopment Plan adopted by the Township Committee on July 9th and October 8th, 2020 would have permitted JMF Properties to develop the Pine Plaza Shopping Mall in the following fashion:

  • Permit 130 market-rate, for-sale townhomes;
  • 60 affordable, senior citizen housing units that would be deed-restricted for 30 years;
  • Retail shops and office development involving 125,000 square feet of space;
  • Gas pumps with a convenience store; and
  • The acquisition of the Midas Muffler shop as part of the redevelopment project.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an extraordinary, negative change to the retail market that will not immediately lend itself to a revitalization of the failed Pine Plaza Mall. Cognizant of this change in market conditions, the Township Committee is proactively seeking to amend a settlement agreement that was signed on March 22, 2019 that would achieve the following:

  • Construction of only 60 and not 130 townhouses that were originally planned;
  • Permission to construct a “big box” single-user retail store containing approximately 160,000 square feet of space (versus multiple users at a max of 125,000 square feet) along with gas pumps but no convenience store. There would be no access to the big box to or from Mount Pleasant Avenue, thereby protecting the neighborhood from cut-through traffic; and
  • Construction of 60 age-restricted affordable senior citizen units off-site as described below.


Ordinance No. 32-20: This ordinance would amend the Township’s Zoning Map to include a new “AH-2 Affordable Housing Overlay District” that would provide an option for the development of the 60 age-restricted affordable housing units formerly proposed as part of the redevelopment plan for those properties within the Pine Plaza Shopping Mall. The Township has identified what it believes to be an appropriate site consisting of 4.4 acres of vacant land on a portion of the Cambrex Pharmaceuticals property located at 30 North Jefferson Road and also designated as Lot 5 in Block 9102 on the tax maps. Construction of the 60 affordable units at this location would permit residents to be in close proximity to Township services at the Community Center, Town Hall and Library directly across the street. The units would also be within walking distance to Veterans Memorial Park on the same side of the road. A New Jersey Transit bus route uses North Jefferson Road to Morristown Boonton and the Mall at Wayne, and thus provides a convenient means of transportation for the seniors.

The adoption of the overlay district would not constrain or otherwise prohibit Cambrex from developing any other part of its property within the underlying I-P2 Zone District.


Ordinance No. 33-2020: This ordinance provides the legal mechanism, in accordance with state statute at NJSA 40: 48-2 and NJSA 40A: 12-1 et seq., by which the Township can acquire a portion of the Cambrex property through a negotiated purchase. While the ordinance also permits the acquisition of property for a public purpose via eminent domain, (pursuant to NJSA 20: 3-1 et seq.), the Township Committee views this method as a last resort. It is the intention of the Township to negotiate in good faith as it strongly believes that the location of 60 age-restricted affordable housing units for seniors is in the public interest.

The adoption of the three ordinances would achieve the following goals:

  1. Finding an appropriate location for accommodating senior housing;
  2. Providing an opportunity for retail development of the Pine Plaza site. This big box concept is not the ideal plan envisioned by the Township Committee; however, we must accept the reality of current economic conditions that are globally challenging our society;
  3. Permitting limited residential townhouse development adjacent to the Legion Place portion of the site as opposed to the vastly deteriorated and unoccupied shopping center that was an eyesore for many years. The townhouse development will also serve as a transitional buffer between the retail development and the residents on Legion Place.

 

All three ordinances are docketed for public hearing and consideration of adoption at the next regular public meeting of the Township Committee Scheduled for Thursday evening, December 10, 2020, at 6:30 PM via a Zoom Webinar.