The Lackawanna Train Terminal opened its doors in Montclair back in 1913. Now, a plan to redevelop Lackawanna Plaza has officially been introduced by the town of Montclair. At a March 1st, 2023 meeting of the Montclair Environmental Commission (MEC), the Commission released a statement in support of the current proposal for the Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment plan. The statement, while generally in support of the project, did come with some stipulations. Read on to learn more about the latest updates on the Lackawanna Plaza Redevelopment Project in Montclair.
Montclair Environmental Commission
According to its website, the MEC’s purpose is to “Guide Montclair Township to reduce carbon emissions, build climate resilience, advance environmental justice, and protect our living environment by advising, advocating, educating, developing policy and leading new initiatives.” Per the laws establishing the MEC, it is an advisory body only. The Township Council has final authority over any decision the MEC is involved with.
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The statement released by the Commission embraced the environmental aspects of the proposal and added more elements that the MEC would like to see included in the final proposal. Those additional elements include:
– Build Net Zero buildings creating as much energy as is used onsite.
– Achieve LEED Platinum certification for all buildings.
– Electrify everything to avoid greenhouse gas emitting natural gas heating, water heating, and stoves.
– Install more EV charging stations and more make-ready EV charging parking spots than required by state law to anticipate the exponential rate of EV adoption.
– Implementation of an on-site car-sharing program to reduce the need for parking by residents or workers
– Increased permeable surfaces in the form of the Main Plaza and Station Plaza.
“The MEC approves of the aspirations in this plan and is in favor of this development if, and only if, the aspirations in the redevelopment plan are implemented in whole. If the aspirations listed in the Lackawanna Redevelopment Plan are not implemented in part or whole, then the MEC has reservations about supporting this Redevelopment Plan. Sustainability is mentioned throughout the plan, which is encouraging; however, implementation of these ideals should be required. There are a great many excellent aspirations and we would like to see them implemented to the greatest extent possible.”
Status of the Project
The MEC’s endorsement of the Lackawanna Redevelopment Proposal is a positive step forward for supporters of the project. “We greatly appreciate the members of the Montclair Environmental Commission taking the time to carefully review the environmental benefits of the township’s redevelopment plan,” said David Placek, a Montclair resident and managing partner of BDP Holdings, LLC, which owns the 8.2-acre property. “We agree with MEC’s assessment that the greatest environmental benefits of the project will only be realized if we commit to them fully and totally, and we look forward to doing exactly that once the Township Council approves the plan. We thank the MEC for their efforts in evaluating the plan’s environmental sustainability.”
The redevelopment project still has several more hurdles to pass before it gets final approval. The Montclair Township Council will have the final say over the proposal. However, the timing of the decision is unknown. As of this writing, no agenda has been released for either of the two upcoming town council meetings in March.
A handful of citizen groups oppose the project. Save Montclair and Montclair Residents for Responsible Development have each launched online petitions asking for changes to, or a complete stop of the efforts to redevelop the plaza.
The Montclair Planning Board voted earlier this year that the proposal, as written, is in conflict with the town’s Master Plan. The Montclair Historical Preservation Committee suggested several changes to the plan.
The Township of Montclair presented a preliminary traffic study at a meeting on February 9th. The study looked at how the proposed development at Lackawanna Plaza would impact the surrounding area. More studies are being completed.