Maplewood adopts new master plan

Photo Courtesy of Nancy Adams

Maplewood has officially adopted a new Master Plan that calls for making the township more welcoming, more energy efficient and more equitable.

“A major theme is equity; making sure we’re doing what is best for us as a community in a way that makes sense for all of us,” said Karen Pisciotta, chair of the planning board.

“Make sure residents have access to parks, to recreation, to facilities. We’re being good stewards of how Maplewood’s land use is managed. I encourage people who live, work, and play in Maplewood to review the document, review recommendations, and think about what they might be most excited about the Township implementing and letting our officials know. Ultimately it will be up to the township—what needs to be implemented on what timeline.”

The plan was officially adopted on Aug. 8 and can be viewed online by the public. The Master Plan is basically a document, adopted by the Planning Board, which is used as a blueprint; a guiding document of information gathered from representatives of the town such as the planning board, the historic preservation group, cultural affairs, and the environmental committee.

The New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law wants each municipality to reexamine its Master Plan and development regulations at least every 10 years. The Township last undertook a comprehensive master planning effort in 2004.

The process of creating a new plan began in 2021 with the creation of a steering committee of various elected and non-elected township residents. Since then, there have been numerous opportunities for public input..

Township officials and business owners spoke out regarding some of the visions and planning goals mentioned in the document.

“There’s a lot of emphasis on inclusion and quality of life,” said Township Committeeman Nancy Adams. These things include being more energy efficient and recognizing historical significance of certain properties—paying attention to preservation.

“All of those things are an important part of it,” she said, adding, “Maplewood continues on the trajectory of the last 20 years, trying to make it welcoming for everyone.

The hardest part of any town is to make it affordable. Hopefully the governor will find the bill that caps property tax for people over 65 so they don’t have to move. Maplewood is one of the highest property tax towns in the state.”

Scott Friedman, owner of The Home Revivalists at 202 Maplewood Ave., also feels there needs to be a way to lower property taxes.

“Pass on lower rent to tenants and be more affordable to tenants; more affordable to owners,” he said. In addition to The Home Revivalists, Friedman owns two other buildings. With one of them being historic, he agrees on historic preservation.

“It [the Master Plan] is a guiding document,” said Adams. “It holds a lot of weight because of the info gathered from representatives of the town. It’s not a law, but it is something that should be paid attention to. A good amount of community put their thoughts on it. We worked hard on the township side to have public meetings, different times of the day, different days of the week, to get everyone included. It’s not just the village, it’s the whole town. We were happy with the process as far as the planning firm that we hired, BFJ Planning. They did a lot of work and outreach.”

Susan Favate, principal of BFJ Planning, said, “A lot of groundwork was laid in the Master Plan. Better organizing, better communication, a little more networking. All can happen immediately being supported by The Master Plan. The process is positive for the township.”

Victor DeLuca, township committee member said, “It was a very deliberative process. I was involved in stakeholder groups, meetings with environment folks, business folks…It really is a guide to how we’re going to move forward.”

Jill Cohen, founder of CannaBoss Lady, at 9 Highland Pl., said she went to one of the meetings about the Master Plan and would like to see a parking garage and more cannabis smoking areas.”

Ryan Magnes, owner of Magnus Comics, 155 Maplewood Ave. agreed about the positive vibe of Maplewood Village. To view Masterplant: