Updated February 12, 2019: Tonight’s scheduled community conversation (Feb.12) has been cancelled due to weather. This article will be updated when the Township reschedules.
Launched last year, the South Orange Master Plan process has already enjoyed dozens of community meetings. However, if you’ve missed those meetings, there are still more to come (find a full list on the South Orange Master Plan website: somasterplan.com), including three community-wide meetings taking place at the Loft at SOPAC (3rd Floor), 1 SOPAC Way, South Orange, NJ:
- Tuesday, Feb. 12, 7-9 p.m.
- Wednesday, Feb. 27, 7-9 p.m.
- Saturday, March 16, 3-5 p.m.
In a press release sent to media today (see below), South Orange Village President Sheena Collum encouraged residents to attend: “For those who have not had an opportunity to participate yet, I strongly urge you to do so. This process is designed to be inclusive and ensure all voices are being heard.”
The Master Plan is an effort to update the community’s vision for South Orange Township that is long overdue. In announcing the kickoff of the process last June, Collum wrote, “Although there have been periodic revisions and new elements introduced, a comprehensive Master Plan for our community has not been undertaken since the late 1970s.”
The following postcard has been mailed to all households in South Orange, according to Collum:
From South Orange Village Township:
South Orange to Host 3 Town-Wide Master Plan Listening Sessions
SOUTH ORANGE, NJ (February 11, 2019) – After four months of digital and in-person outreach to stakeholder groups and neighborhoods, the Master Plan Management Committee will be concluding the Visioning Phase of the South Orange Master Plan by hosting three town-wide listening sessions which will occur in the Loft at the South Orange Performing Arts Center on Tuesday February 12, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Wednesday, February 27, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Saturday, March 16, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
A postcard being delivered to everyone home reads, “A comprehensive Master Plan for South Orange has not been undertaken since the late 1970s, but that ends now! Led by civic leaders, neighborhood ambassadors, and an award-winning planning firm – robust public engagement is the heart of what will shape our shared future.”
The postcard goes on to ask questions about the future such as:
- How do we plan for responsible growth and attract new ratables in business districts to lessen the tax burden on homeowners? Should we stop development and increase taxes? Is there a balance?
- We need more affordable housing, but what else? Senior housing or student housing? Market rate? Condos? Micro units? Artist lofts? How important is housing diversification and choice?
- Do we have a parking problem or a walking problem? Do we invest millions in structured parking garages at taxpayers’ expense, or do we invest in walkable urbanism and alternative transportation?
- Are we a college town or a town with a college? Do we want nightlife and activity, or do we want to go to sleep at 9 p.m.? Should we aim to attract young adults, or should we focus on families and seniors?
- How do we protect our natural resources? Should we acquire more open space, and, if so, who pays? How do we ensure sustainability is at the forefront of decision-making?
- How do we maintain our diversity and commitment to intentional integration through land use?
“Upon completion of the Master Plan Visioning Phase, nearly 50 public meetings led by community ambassadors will have been held engaging stakeholders who are bringing varying perspectives from every corner of our town,” said Village President Sheena Collum. “This is in addition to our online interactive engagement map where neighbors have been commenting regularly. For those who have not had an opportunity to participate yet, I strongly urge you to do so. This process is designed to be inclusive and ensure all voices are being heard.”
Residents are encouraged to visit www.SOMasterPlan.com where they can learn more about what a Master Plan is, what the process entails and the timeline, a calendar of upcoming events, and an opportunity to respond to survey questions. The Drafting Phase will begin once all community outreach events have been completed.