Maplewood Township’s Master Plan implementation is underway, with a steering committee discussing numerous aspects of the 166-page document adopted by the town’s Planning Board in August 2023.
“We will be reporting regularly to the committee on entrepreneurship and economic development,” said TC member Dean Dafis at Tuesday’s meeting. “And of course, I will be reporting back here as we make policy decisions officially to implement any of the recommendations.”
Some of the potential changes could address hot-button issues such as recent single family home “flip” renovations that appear out of scale with surrounding houses, as well as the demolition of one of Maplewood’s oldest homes.
Top priorities, Dafis said, include:
Land Use & Zoning
- Proposed revisions in single family home zoning to include, among other things, required architectural features to break up building bulk (i.e. explicitly requiring eaves) and revisions in density (i.e. in setbacks and or floor area ratio or FAR).
- Enact targeted regulations to support historic preservation efforts such as with a demolition ordinance which may apply to both residential and commercial construction and considering: what percentage of removal of the building or home would qualify as a demo, if Historic Preservation Commission gets to opine on the construction, how much time does the HPC get for review, what are the criteria or parameters of review, how to preserve homeowner’s or owner’s due process rights, potential exceptions, and striking a thoughtful balance between preservation and commercial viability or economic development.
Dafis said the town was already working on those issues and further developing them in the Code Committee, “so it made sense for us to dovetail on that existing work.”
Town-wide circulation and mobility
“We are exploring developing a new Circulation Element with a focus on bike and pedestrian mobility with a Vision Zero and Complete Streets approach,” Dafis said. “We’re already budgeting for Safe Routes to School grant funding, having conversations about updating our 2010 bikeway network, engaged in various traffic calming studies throughout town [and] safe and complete streets,” items he said TC members frequently hear about from the public.
Dafis said the township was exploring several recommendations related to revising permitted uses in business zones, including expanding the Pedestrian Retail Business (PRB) zone and broadening the CI (Commercial and Industrial) and SLI (Special Light Industrial) districts to encourage entrepreneurship and small business startups. Establishing an administrative zoning review that is less burdensome on entrepreneurship in change of use applications from permitted use to permitted use.
See the full plan here:
See Dafis’s full report here, beginning at the 58:00 mark: