South Orange to host 3 townwide Master Plan listening sessions

Photo Courtesy of South Orange
Seton Village hosts a neighborhood Master Plan conversation at Inkosi Cafe.


Editor’s Note: The Feb. 12 session has been canceled due to snow.

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — After four months of digital and in-person outreach to stakeholder groups and neighborhoods, the Master Plan Management Committee will be concluding the visioning phase of the South Orange Master Plan by hosting three townwide listening sessions in the Loft at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, 1 SOPAC Way, on Tuesday Feb. 12, from 7 to 9 p.m.; Wednesday, Feb. 27, from 7 to 9 p.m.; and Saturday, March 16, from 3 to 5 p.m.

A postcard being delivered to everyone home reads, “A comprehensive Master Plan for South Orange has not been undertaken since the late 1970s, but that ends now! Led by civic leaders, neighborhood ambassadors and an award-winning planning firm — robust public engagement is the heart of what will shape our shared future.”

The postcard goes on to ask questions about the future such as:

  • How do we plan for responsible growth and attract new ratables in business districts to lessen the tax burden on homeowners? Should we stop development and increase taxes? Is there a balance?
  • We need more affordable housing, but what else? Senior housing or student housing? Market rate? Condos? Micro units? Artist lofts? How important is housing diversification and choice?
  • Do we have a parking problem or a walking problem? Do we invest millions in structured parking garages at taxpayers’ expense, or do we invest in walkable urbanism and alternative transportation?
  • Are we a college town or a town with a college? Do we want nightlife and activity, or do we want to go to sleep at 9 p.m.? Should we aim to attract young adults, or should we focus on families and seniors?
  • How do we protect our natural resources? Should we acquire more open space, and, if so, who pays? How do we ensure sustainability is at the forefront of decision-making?
  • How do we maintain our diversity and commitment to intentional integration through land use?

“Upon completion of the Master Plan Visioning Phase, nearly 50 public meetings led by community ambassadors will have been held engaging stakeholders who are bringing varying perspectives from every corner of our town,” village President Sheena Collum said. “This is in addition to our online interactive engagement map where neighbors have been commenting regularly. For those who have not had an opportunity to participate yet, I strongly urge you to do so. This process is designed to be inclusive and ensure all voices are being heard.”

Residents are encouraged to visit where they can learn more about what a Master Plan is, what the process entails and the timeline, a calendar of upcoming events and an opportunity to respond to survey questions. The drafting phase will begin once all community outreach events have been completed.