EDISON – Designating areas in need of redevelopment could be a good thing for Edison.
That is what Mayor-elect Sam Joshi said he has learned from speaking to officials throughout the state.
“When you go to other parts of the state, residents, even officials, often get pretty excited about development and redevelopment because in a lot of times, especially in other towns, your property values will increase, you will have better, more beautiful buildings, you’ll have new buildings or a housing project that people can be proud of,” he said.
Joshi discussed his thoughts at a Township Council meeting on Nov. 10 after many residents raised concerns about two resolutions designating 1000 Inman Ave. as an area in need of redevelopment (non-condemnation) and authorizing the Planning Board to investigate whether or not to designate 54 Runyons Lane as an area in need of redevelopment.
Residents noted traffic on Inman Avenue is already congested and the area on Runyons Lane is not blighted for designation.
Despite concerns, the council voted to approve the resolutions. Councilman Richard Brescher voted “no” on the resolutions and Councilwoman Joyce Ship-Freeman abstained.
Joshi, who is currently council vice president, said he understands the concerns; however, he said the word “development” or “redevelopment” has been viewed in a negative light, specifically in Edison.
“When something is declared an area in need of redevelopment, it does not specifically mean ultimately it’s going to end up become a warehouse or residence,” he said.
Joshi emphasized he is “entirely opposed to excessive development and unnecessary development” which he has been relaying to the public over the course of the year.
“The issue we are facing now is an excessive amount of residences and warehouses being built around town,” he said.
Joshi said an example of a good thing that could come out of a designation of an area in need of redevelopment is the potential for the transformation of New Durham and Talmadge roads from “exhausting” truck traffic and warehouses to a regional corporate headquarter concept for the likes of JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America or Google.
He said because of the novel coronavirus pandemic more and more people are working from home and the commute to Jersey City, New York City or Philadelphia is not necessary.
“JP Morgan Chase has 1,200 employees that commute from Edison to New York City,” he said, adding Bank of America has at least 600 employees that commute the same route.
And as employers are rethinking office space and the amount of employees who live in the township, Joshi said it’s a great opportunity for Edison to create a regional headquarter concept, which will allow Edison to become a hub where people can “live, work and play.”
“We can be a self-sustaining ecosystem and a self-sustaining economy,” he said, adding Edison is equidistant to New York City and Philadelphia. “If our neighboring town can have Microsoft or Ernst and Young headquartered or have offices there, then why can’t we?”
Joshi said during his tenure as mayor – he was elected during the General Election on Nov. 2 – he fully intends to address congestion concerns in the area of Talmadge and New Durham roads as well as the potential for a regional headquarter concept in the area.
Next steps for 1000 Inman Ave.
Now that 1000 Inman Ave. has been designated as an area in need of development, the next step is developing a redevelopment plan for the site. The proposal will include how to best deal with the conditions on the site, Township Attorney William Northgrave said.
Officials said the site has been heavily contaminated for decades.
“The proposed plan will be presented to the administration and it will be discussed by the Redevelopment Committee,” he said.
Then the plan will be brought to the council for review. Before any action can be taken, the plan has to be referred to the Planning Board for review and recommendations under the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law. The plan then will be brought back to the council.
“The council will then consider [the Planning Board’s recommendations, if any],” Northgrave explained. “They can overrule or accept the plan. If they decide to overrule, they have to make a record of why they are not accepting a recommendation.”
A resolution and an adoption of an ordinance is needed to put a redevelopment plan in place, the attorney said.