As a resident of Scotch Plains living at 2356 Promenade, my neighbors and I on Bryant Avenue, North Avenue and, to a lesser degree, Channing Avenue will be directly effected by the rezoning request for the parcel of land on North Avenue adjacent to Charlie Brown's.
As was stated Tuesday night by Wes, Sharon and myself, there is a drainage issue in the area and the current undeveloped land acts as a natural buffer lessening our flood water and sink hole concerns. In addition, if the land is rezoned for commercial use, it could present a significant parking issue. The area is not large enough to accommodate parking for residents and shoppers.
The issues we have with development have to do with quality of life and property value. In my opinion, if the project is one that provides an accretive benefit by way of increased tax base while not negatively impacting our environment, more aptly stated not fostering greater flood or sink hole issues or quality of life and safety concerns, I don't think my neighbors and I would be in opposition.
As I stated Tuesday night – our concern is what is being built and how it is being built. When my wife and I first viewed the home we now own on Promenade in 2006, we were enamored with the swing sets, jungle-gyms, bicycles and skateboards which "populated" the area. However, I was immediately concerned with the undeveloped land on North Avenue and asked my realtor to look into it for me. I was informed that the property was zoned residential and felt comfortable with the notion that a house might one day be built there.
Four years after we purchased our home I find myself at the vanguard fighting a battle, side by side with my neighbors, that has been waged three times before. My children and the children of my friends/neighbors play on these streets with near impunity – a luxury which should be afforded to all children. If the area is rezoned commercial the ensuing parking nightmare will make playing in the streets very dangerous. Promenade, Bryant and Channing are not wide streets. Place cars on the curbs of our homes and you create a single lane road for two-way streets yielding a dangerous place for children to run and play. In addition, and as was stated by Wes Chase, the current run off drain is not of sufficient size to handle the water and debris that passes through it so he physically enters said run off drain to clear it out allowing for improved drainage. Imagine what would happen if the area is OVER developed – flooding could become a fairly regular occurrence, which could lead to economic hardship due to property damage caused by the flood waters.
Would it be such a terrible thing to consider leaving well enough alone? Is rezoning for commercial development absolutely necessary? Do we need one more nail salon, dry cleaner, deli, etc? Couldn't the developer simply build a single family home (or two) keeping in line with the current demographics of the neighborhood? Is an apartment complex in a suburban neighborhood an absolute necessity?
Michael A. Abate
Editor's Note: To learn more about the rezoning proposal, click here.