OLD BRIDGE – The Old Bridge Township Council joins the New Jersey Conference of Mayors in “strong opposition” to a proposed state senate bill that would authorize the conversion of certain office parks and retail centers to mixed-use developments without essentially going through a zoning process.
“It’s amazing to me [state officials] would consider something like this,” Township Attorney Mark Roselli said. “One would think you want to try to control [development], that’s the process of having a masterplan, creating zoning ordinances, having a planning process so these types of things don’t happen.”
The Old Bridge Township Council approved a resolution expressing their “strong opposition” against the proposed state Senate bill in June.
With the proposed bill, Roselli said it allows proposed office complexes and retail centers to be mixed use without getting a use variance.
“It’s sending a message of ‘it doesn’t matter’ what a municipality has as their home rule,” he said.
The state Senate bill – S2103 – is sponsored by state Sen. Troy Singleton (D-7) in Burlington County.
East Windsor Mayor Janice S. Mironov, who serves as president of The New Jersey Conference of Mayors, sent a letter to members of the Senate Community & Urban Affairs Committee in May.
“We appreciate the sponsor’s concerns to address the challenge of empty office parks and retail centers post-COVID and in this struggling economy, while attempting to increase the state’s housing stock,” she wrote in the letter. “However, the methodology forwarded in this legislation is both unnecessary and undermining of sound local zoning and planning efforts.”
Mironov said “towns undertake extensive public processes to establish municipal master plans and municipal zoning.”
“These local zoning plans and regulations and the permitted variance process serve important public purposes which should not be side-stepped,” she wrote in the letter.