Tag Archives: Chatham Borough

Is this what you want to see in the middle of Chatham Borough?

It’s no wonder the redevelopers have proposed such horribly tin-eared designs for Chatham’s Post Office Plaza.

They’re taking their cues from an unreliable source that would sacrifice quaint Chatham to crippling overdevelopment.

Just look at the models shown at page 51 of our POP Redevelopment Plan:

https://chathamborough.org/government/documents/redevelopment-projects-documents/post-office-plaza-redevelopment-documents/1345-post-office-plaza-redevelopment-plan-04-09-2019/file

Imagine the traffic! Is that what you want for Chatham?

Tell our Mayor and Borough Council right now! https://chathamborough.org/government/mayor

Tell them you prefer something like this:

The clock is ticking. Why are we still in the dark?

What do our Mayor and Council have in mind for the Post Office Plaza overhaul that will change our town forever? Nobody knows.

They haven’t even revealed the options under consideration, and yet they expect us to discuss the five final options at a high stakes, mass public Town Hall meeting to be held in the next few weeks!

That’s something not even a professional town planner could do well.

The Mayor ought to reveal the options at this Monday’s Council meeting, so we can be prepared to discuss them at the Town Hall meeting he’s promised to hold before the end of March!

Instead, he’s planning to go into yet another back room session regarding mysterious negotiations with unknown parties.

Check out the agenda: https://d3n9y02raazwpg.cloudfront.net/chathamborough/d2d94dd7-6822-11ec-85e3-0050569183fa-913d29f1-6f3f-49bb-ae95-b01c193418d6-1647030868.pdf

Please tell the Mayor and Council that it’s time for transparency: (Contact info at: https://chathamborough.org/government/mayor)

Come to the Council meeting this Monday, March 14, 7:30 pm:

Too little, too late!

Our Mayor promises he’ll soon hold a special public meeting to lay out five options for Post Office Plaza – which the Council will then vote on at one of its regular Monday night meetings. (Start at minute 6:24.) https://chathamborough.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=75

That isn’t good enough. Now is the time to fix it.

Go to https://chathamborough.org/government/mayor.

E-mail the Mayor and Council:

  1. We need to see those five options well before that special public meeting, so we’ll have a chance to evaluate them.
  2. We need to know that among the options presented will be the one that’s best for Chatham: Satisfy our POP affordable housing quota by subsidizing 15 existing apartments. Make POP more attractive by landscaping and resurfacing the parking lot, and NOT selling, gifting, leasing, or otherwise disposing of any Borough land; or reducing the amount of free, open air, surface public parking; or building any kind of parking garage; or granting a PILOT tax break – or any other kind of corporate welfare. Why? http://chathamchoice.org/2022/02/our-little-town/
  3. With the future of Chatham at stake, we need more than one such special public meeting, something our Mayor explicitly promised on 27 January 2020. (Start at minute 13:00.) https://vimeo.com/387823706?embedded=true&source=video_title&owner=40797229


Our Little Town

Can we count on Chatham Borough Mayor Thad Kobylarz to protect us from over development that would destroy our little town?

Find out at the Monday Feb 28 Borough Council meeting, where the Mayor says he hopes to have news on Post Office Plaza. https://patch.com/new-jersey/chatham/post-office-plaza-redevelopment-update-expected-chatham.

(The meeting is 7:30 pm at Borough Hall, 54 Fairmount Avenue, upper level, or you can attend virtually here: https://www.chathamborough.org/component/dpcalendar/event/2386)

Given the settlement our Mayor and Council approved on June 14, 2021, http://chathamchoice.org/2021/09/, it appears that we have only two real options:

  1. Cave-in, and build a big commercial housing project – smaller perhaps, but similar to the Kushners’ 4-story, 118-rental-unit block that would increase density, choke our streets, rob us of our public parking lot, burden our schools, diminish our quality of life – and probably cost Chatham a bundle, while providing a mere 15 affordable units. http://chathamchoice.org/2022/01/is-this-what-you-want-for-chatham/ OR
  2. Stand firm, and persuade Fair Share Housing to let us preserve our public parking lot and small town quality of life, while satisfying our POP affordable housing quota by subsidizing 15 existing apartments scattered around town. http://chathamchoice.org/2021/10/

Of course, the second option is far better for Chatham and for the newcomers. If we make this choice, they won’t be set aside, crammed between the Post Office and the railroad tracks. They’ll be our next-door-neighbors and an integral part of our community.

In return, we’ll be able satisfy our affordable housing obligations for POP, and gain a bit of diversity, without increasing our population, density, traffic congestion, or air pollution.

As such, if we choose the second option, we won’t need to worry about higher costs for police, schooling, fire fighting, public works, etc. We’ll pay only the difference between the market rent and the affordable rent set by law for those few units – a knowable amount – instead of gambling our future on a big housing complex, whose effect on our net revenues Chatham has never even tried to estimate! 

Best of all, by choosing the second option, we’ll preserve our free public parking lot, and our chance to landscape it and add a park, a popular proposal suggested by community leader Fran Drew http://chathamchoice.org/2021/07/dont-sacrifice-chatham-to-the-big-developer/, instead of getting stuck with a White Elephant complex we won’t need as affordable housing law evolves. 

How can you help insure that Chatham makes the right choice?

Before the Feb 28 Council meeting, email the Mayor and Borough Council https://chathamborough.org/government/mayor.

Tell them that:

  • Before we take even one more step with Post Office Plaza, we need to know the costs and implications of each option, as our Mayor first promised in January 2020. (Minute 13)  https://vimeo.com/387823706
  • We’d rather trim the Borough budget a bit – or even increase taxes a little – to subsidize existing apartments, than play Russian roulette with Chatham’s future.   
  • We’re 100% behind the Mayor negotiating to subsidize existing apartments rather than building a new apartment project that will destroy our quality of life, and we are counting on the Council to support that, too.
  • When they come up for re-election, we will vote accordingly.

Valentine’s Day hookup!

At the end of tonight’s Borough Council meeting, our Mayor and Council will be going behind closed doors for a far more intimate encounter – one that could determine the fate of Post Office Plaza.

https://chathamborough.org/government/documents/meeting-documents/mayor-council-meeting/2022-mayor-council-agendas/2022-mayor-council-agendas-1/1860-02-14-2022-agenda/file

Let’s just hope they don’t get taken advantage of, and wind up signing another Secret Agreement like the one below, which they approved behind closed doors last June 14 – all but giving away control of Post Office Plaza – and then kept under wraps for months!

Source: https://portal.njcourts.gov/webcivilcj/CIVILCaseJacketWeb/pages/publicAccessDisclaimer.faces

(To see court files, hit link above, prove you’re not a robot, use dropdown to select Civil, Morris, enter 1906, enter 15.)

Would our Mayor and Council really do that again? Ask them at the meeting tonight 7:30 pm, by phone or Zoom:

https://chathamborough.org/component/dpcalendar/event/2385

What’s next for Post Office Plaza?

With the Kushner partnership’s exclusive contract for Post Office Plaza set to expire on Jan 26, will our Mayor and Council decide to:

  • give the Kushner partnership yet another extension of time (their sixth!) to come up with a decent design for Post Office Plaza; or
  • let the Kushners’ exclusive contract expire – and give someone else a chance to design something that might suit us – instead of swamping our roads, schools, police and fire departments, and destroying our quality of life in Chatham Borough?

Which way will the Mayor and Council decide to go? To find out, tune in this Monday, Jan 24, at 7:30 pm using this link:

https://chathamborough.org/component/dpcalendar/event/2384

Meanwhile, should be some clues in the agenda for Monday’s Council meeting, which you can find here: https://granicus_production_attachments.s3.amazonaws.com/chathamborough/b7ca7e731a8f47808f7aa8cb8d3cf63d0.pdf

or by going to the Borough’s homepage and scrolling all the way down to Granicus: https://chathamborough.org/

Would you like to see Chatham Borough turned into another Hoboken?

Check out this video about the big, 4-story, 118-unit, commercial rental complex the Kushner partnership is eager to cram into the plot behind our Main Street businesses:

Hit this link and scroll down to the video: https://www.tapinto.net/towns/chatham/articles/it-s-time-for-smart-downtown-development-to-move-forward-in-chatham-borough-developers-post-office-plaza-design-update

Could a fire truck get close enough to fight a fire on the south side of the building? Photo credit: TapintoChatham

That video doesn’t show exactly what the project would look like, but what it does reveal is troubling to say the least.

The Kushner design sacrifices the free, public, surface parking lot we treasure, substituting fewer public spaces – mostly in a hulking, 4-story parking garage along the railroad tracks.

With no service road along those tracks, it appears the only way to get to that garage by car is via narrow, dead-end Bowers Lane, which is also the future site of a 34-plus-unit assisted living facility. And the only way out of that garage is a right turn from Bowers Lane onto our already clogged-up Main Street.

Worse yet, on foot, the only way shown into – or out of – that garage is in a secluded spot up against the railroad tracks, at the end of a narrow alley. (Would you have your mother use that door?)

The Kushner design also appears to encroach upon the property of some adjacent landowners, who were not even consulted.

Building it would require tearing down one of the most interesting historic sites in Chatham:

http://chathamchoice.org/2021/10/miss-dickinsons-garage/

Once built, this new Kushner project would justify replacing other Chatham properties with 4-story buildings, inevitably robbing Chatham of the low-rise charm that drew many of us here in the first place.

Would this project at least provide plenty of affordable housing? No. It would yield a mere15 of the 320 affordable units envisioned in the settlement the Mayor signed on June 14, 2021.

Let’s face it: This Kushner proposal isn’t good for anyone except the rich developers.

But it’s pretty much what you can expect to see in Post Office Plaza unless our Mayor can persuade Fair Share Housing to accept a better solution – for instance, letting us subsidize 15 or so existing apartments – instead of building a big commercial project nobody wants.

What do you think of this latest Kushner scheme for Chatham? Email: brigidmcmenamin@msn.com

Also, be sure to share your opinions with our Mayor before Jan 24, 2022, when the Borough Council must decide whether to renew the Kushner partnership’s exclusive status as redeveloper, or cut them loose.

Help the Mayor resist the pressure to sacrifice Chatham to the big developers. Remind him of what he said back in 2016:

http://chathamchoice.org/2021/10/

Encourage the Mayor to honor the promises he made to voters, and to approach Fair Share Housing with an alternative solution.

Email: Mayor@chathamborough.org

Chatham’s hour of need

This Monday, the Borough Council will vote to change the Plan for Post Office Plaza such that it will probably be forced to wipe out our free, public parking lot and build a 100+ unit rental apartment project with a multilevel garage.

Our Mayor says that project “sucks,” but he cannot stop it without your help.

Show the Mayor you support his efforts to stop the overdevelopment of Post Office Plaza. Come to the meeting of the Mayor & Borough Council, 7:30 PM, Monday, 13 December 2021, Borough Hall, 54 Fairmount Avenue, upper level.

Check out the agenda: https://d3n9y02raazwpg.cloudfront.net/chathamborough/ef5b76d9-4ac1-11eb-920e-0050569183fa-e1abdc78-5a39-4c90-9587-5dd3be7cd0a4-1639086806.pdf