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Monroe to begin master plan review in early 2021 with full public engagement

MONROE – Township officials are planning to thoroughly review Monroe’s master plan, which will give the township an opportunity to explore ways to control development, invest in traffic improvements and gain momentum toward the township’s goal of preserving 50% of open space in the township.

With the review, the Township Council has approved a resolution to hire H2M Associates Inc. in Parsippany at a meeting on Dec. 9 for public outreach services in an amount not to exceed $66,000.

Monroe Business Administrator Alan Weinberg said H2M Associates is an engineering firm with expertise in reviewing master plans.

“Since [review of master plans] only happen every 20 to 25 years there’s not always an in-house ability to see what the latest technology and efforts in terms of outreach is,” he said, noting the firm has worked with other municipalities on their master plans.

Joe Stroin, acting planning director in Monroe, said H2M Associates is planning to hold a number of different public workshops via Zoom on every master plan element, create a dedicated website for the master plan review and send out community-wide surveys to garner public input. All recommendations will be summarized and go through the Master Plan Subcommittee and Planning Board for the new master plan.

Weinberg said Township Planner Mark Remsa, Township Engineer Mark Rasimowicz and Planning Board Attorney Jerome Convery will be working with H2M Associates in the master plan review.

A request for proposal bid for an additional contract for specialized services in transportation and circulation will begin shortly and will be presented to the council in January. Weinberg said funds for the contract will be included in the 2021 municipal budget.

The township will launch a full public engagement and community-wide program to obtain valuable input for the master plan in early 2021. The process was originally slated for this year, but curtailed due to the novel coronavirus public health crisis.

The township will reopen and update the following elements of its master plan: municipal land use, roads and transportation, parks and recreation and open space. As a prelude to the effort, the Planning Board is currently reviewing a reexamination report to highlight the current status.

“As part of this process, we will evaluate the current state of our state Supreme Court’s ordered affordable housing requirements, which comprises 96% of the future housing growth in our township over the next five or more years,” Mayor Gerald Tamburro said. “Monroe was originally faced with a much greater number of court mandated affordable units, but we were successful in reducing that amount by more than half.”

All relevant documents will be posted on the township website at www.monroetwp.com for public review as the process moves forward.

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