Representatives of the four proposed developments in and around downtown Ridgewood began making their case again this week for a master plan amendment that could allow their multifamily residential projects to move forward.
The Ridgewood Planning Board has been discussing some of the proposals for almost three years, but Tuesday night marked the beginning of formal public hearings.
Discussions will essentially restart as the planning board formally considers three new zones on parts of South Broad Street, Chestnut Street and North Maple Avenue that would increase height and density limitations, allowing multifamily developments that will in part help fulfill the village’s affordable housing obligations.
Attorneys who appeared Tuesday night on behalf of the developers said that, aside from a few unspecified issues, they supported the draft amendment prepared by Blais Brancheau, the village planner.
“We quibble with a few things, but basically we think it’s a good start in accomplishing something that is good for the village,” said Tom Wells, the attorney appearing on behalf of the proposed Dayton and Chestnut Village developments.
He reiterated claims made through the planning board’s prior work sessions that the developments will bring new tax revenue to the village, produce relatively few students and generate less traffic than commercial sites allowable under current zoning.
“What we are proposing generates less traffic than what we could build,” Wells said.
Brancheau said among the objectives of the draft amendment was to create multifamily zones that would encourage pedestrian traffic and support the central business district.
"I've always felt appropriate housing in and near the downtown could be a boon to the downtown businesses," he said.
Ira Weiner, an attorney representing objector group Citizens for a Better Ridgewood, was present, but public comments as well as his introductory remarks were put off until a hearing next month.
In an October letter to the planning board, the group raised concerns particularly with the higher density limits of the proposed new zones. Weiner repeated Tuesday night that the group does not specifically object to any of the applications, but rather seeks to represent the “public interest” through the process.
Weiner said it was not decided as of Tuesday night whether the group would be presenting expert testimony, but the developers are expected to again bring planners, traffic experts and architects before the board.
The planning board will not be considering the four developments separately during the hearings, but rather exploring the separate issues related to a potential zoning change one by one.
Public comment will begin the next hearing on the master plan amendment, scheduled for Jan. 7.