Friday, August 27, 2010

Developing Developments

Robert Ruane is not known for being subtle in expressing his opinions. Shortly after challenging his neighborhood fire department to a polygraph test. Bloomfield's Third Ward councilman, had some controversial comments to throw out in this weeks Council Conference meeting. Once again, a larger than usual turnout led to a move from the conference room into the spacious council chambers,
When several residents complained about a sharp increase in gang activity on Charles Street near Bloomfield's boundary with East Orange, Ruane's solution was: "The only way to stop it is to do what they did in Hillside -- they put barricades up there."
The conference meeting saw several developments on a major new development. On the agenda was a discussion of issues related to planned mega conversion of Bloomfield's former National Starch Factory complex at 225 Belleville Ave -- across from Oakside Mansion Recently christened "Oakes Pond," the developer is projecting as many 390 rental replace a dozen "light manufacturing." facilities. The plan was moved into Closed Session part of the meeting due to land acquisition and abatement issues that needed to addressed. In the public comment section of the meeting Trish Comstock spoke about traffic problems that already exist in the Belleville Ave. neighborhood. "During rush hours, traffic is frequently backed up (from Broad St.) to Woodland Road."
Their current plan by Garden Commercial Properties is to create two buildings along the lower bend of the Third River, four stories each with a parking deck beneath, to serve as luxury one- or two-bedroom apartments. The developer, has said that the properties could begin as rental units and potentially become condominiums. when the real estate market improves.

Commenting on the news of a $100,000 grant received for studying the causes and cures of flooding along Bloomfield's segment of the Third River, Councilman Nick Joanow asserted that " You don't build on a floodplain. There's a cost/benefit analysis that needs to be understood …. Homes along that river have lost 5 to 10 feet of their property due to riverbank erosion. There are homes that are consistently flooding…the water has to go somewhere." He referenced the township's 2002 Master Plan which included the Army Corps of Engineers conclusion that
"The increase in the intensity and number of 100 year and 500 year flood events can be attributed to the way that development has occurred in Bloomfield. Impervious surface coverage along stream corridors in wetlands and floodplain areas leaves stormwater with no place to go. Generally these areas would absorb and filter the waters acting as a natural
detention basin for the surrounding community. In Bloomfield, storm water travels through streets, driveways, and sometimes basements, rather than vegetated riparian corridors and wetlands."

Rouane asserted that arguments on flooding issues caused by development plans along the Third River were a diversion for the "fact that the river is full of debris and it has never been cleaned up or dredged." River Liaison Bernard Hamilton refuted Ruane by stating that he has personally been involved with several river cleanups. The Mayor concurred with Hamilton and moved on.

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