When Thomas Hut volunteered to design an entryway to the South Orange Public Library back in 2003, he had no idea what he was getting himself into.
By 2004, Hut had joined the South Orange Planning Board, and by 2008, he was chairing the Planning Board — a position he held through to early 2014.
During his tenure as chair, Hut oversaw approval of the Third and Valley development, a new grocery store (now Ashley Marketplace) and Above Restaurant on Vose Avenue, the Gateway development, and a soon-to-come mixed use development at Church Street and South Orange Avenue.
Last night, Hut was honored for his past work and continuing volunteerism (he now serves on the Township’s development committee) as Villager of the Month at the South Orange Board of Trustees meeting.
According to an article in South Orange Village’s newsletter The Gaslight:
For Tom, it was 20 hours a month devoted to the Planning Board and simultaneously to Main Street South Orange, where his volunteerism actually began.
Initially, “I was intent on getting the voice of Main Street’s design committee heard in the planning board approval process,” he said. “While there were downtown design guidelines, they were very general.” Tom guided Main Street in writing comprehensive design plans and advocated for more dialogue between Main Street and the planning board. The collaboration made Main Street’s design committee more punctual in its reviews and made the planning board more aware of Main Street’s beneficial input. Not surprisingly, Tom’s efforts also made Village leaders aware of the valuable resource they had in him as a planning board member.
“Tom transitioned to chair at a time when there were many new planning board members as well as many new projects,” Village Trustee Mark Rosner told Gaslight. “He showed the utmost professionalism in chairing the board through that period. He was always fair and always allowed everyone their say, whether board members or members of the public.”
Said Hut,“There were a lot of key developments under my watch and I’m proud of that. I really do think the Village has handled its growth in a responsible way. South Orange is a great community. Great things have been accomplished and there’s more to be done. I’ve enjoyed helping.”
Read the full Gaslight story on Hut here.
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