South River council introduces ordinance redeveloping vacant school property

SOUTH RIVER–Setting the groundwork to revitalize longtime vacant properties, the Borough Council introduced an ordinance, which if adopted, will amend the municipal code to establish the Lincoln School Neighborhood Overlay District.

“The Lincoln School Neighborhood Overlay District (LSNOD) is intended as a means of revitalizing the former Lincoln School educational facility in the borough. It provides the standards to transform this vacant, underutilized and obsolete former educational property into a viable land use, thus improving and stabilizing the fiscal health of the borough,” Borough Administrator Art Londensky said.

The purpose LSNOD is to revitalize the long-vacant and contaminated former school site and surrounding properties, according to the council.

Londensky said the LSNOD is located on Maple, William, Prospect and Reid streets.

The plan allows property located at a highly visible intersection to be developed into a node for neighborhood business and mixed-use development, according to the council.

The details of this overlay zone have been designed to advance the intent and purpose of the South River Master Plan, namely, to promote redevelopment of vacant buildings and to provide a reasonable transition between the downtown business district and the residential neighborhoods located north of Main Street, according to the council.

The council introduced and approved the ordinance on June 22 during the council meeting via video conference. The second and final reading is scheduled for July 13.

The LSNOD intents will also:

  • Allow for the expansion of rehabilitation development into Lincoln School neighborhood, particularly on properties abutting the original school parcels so as to assemble a workable development site;
  • Provide for regulation of bulk, height, parking, setback and buffering elements of site development where the current R-75 standards would not be useful in buffering this use from the abutting residential properties; and
  • Promote public safety and flood resiliency with new development constructed in accordance with flood-proofing requirements of the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The LSNOD regulations will replace all previous Lincoln School Overlay District regulations. This overlay district will overlay, not replace, the existing development requirements of the R-75 Single Family Residential District and will exist as an alternative set of development standards for the properties located within the boundaries of the overlay district, according to the council.

Permitted uses include:

  1. Single-family residential dwellings in line with the standards of the R-75 residential zone.
  2. Multi-family dwelling in an apartment building or townhouse format.
  3. Mixed-use buildings with ground floor neighborhood retail/commercial uses and upper floor office, commercial and/or residential uses.
  4. Mixed-use developments including multi-family dwellings and small-format neighborhood retail, office, personal and banking services, fitness centers or similar business as determined by the zoning officer, situated in separate, shared or semi-connected buildings.
  5. Restaurants, quick for stores, snack bars, and restaurant-taverns including restaurants designed primarily for on-side, off-side or outside eating and walk-up windows and service, but excluding vehicle drive-thru windows.

Prohibited uses in the LSNOD will include:

  • taverns and nightclubs
  • hotel, motels, boarding and rooming houses
  • all uses not specially permitted by zone or by state or federal law are prohibited but by not limited to refineries, manufacturing, slaughterhouses, explosives, bulk storage, fabrication, automotive sales or service
  • all adult uses prohibited under the borough code
  • drive-thru windows or uses of any type

Once the ordinance is adopted, Londensky said the borough will wait for the developer to submit plans to the appropriate board/department for review and approval.

For more information about the LSNOD, visit www.southrivernj.org/agendas/council/.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.