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Planning Board approves Master Plan to guide Monroe for the next 10 years

The Monroe Township Planning Board has adopted the township’s 2022 Master Plan – an outlook for the next 10 years – after more than a year of discussions and public input.

Planning Board Chairman Marc Gaffrey, and members David Rothman, John Riggs, Karen Polidoro, Roslyn Brodsky, Kevin McGowan, Oruj Qureshi, Councilman Terence Van Dzura, and Mayor Stephen Dalina voted in favor of adopting the township’s Master Plan at a meeting on Oct. 27.

“It is kind of like a living breathing document that can and should change, revisited and amended, if necessary. It gives us an idea of where we are going in the next 10 years,” Van Dzura said. “The recommendations came out of ideas, comments, and suggestions directly from the residents.”

Public input in the Master Plan process consisted of sub-committee and stakeholder groups, website and survey feedback, three community workshops, a draft Master Plan in August, and the Planning Board meeting in October.

H2M architects + Engineers firm with offices in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Florida prepared the Master Plan and was the consulting lead during the process.

“The elements that were prepared here really came out of the 2020 Master-Plan Reexamination Report – land use element, circulation, open space, infrastructure, recycling and utilities elements,” said Paul Cancilla, consultant from the firm.

The essential elements are the land use element, which includes eight goals and objectives, and a housing part of the element, which provide the framework for the adoption of zoning ordinances, he added.

In the land use element, the Master Plan general recommendations include working with the school district to plan for additional school facilities and potential sites; reviewing zone boundaries to minimize the number of split zoned lots; and create a new open space zone to cover all types of open space parcels in the yownship, according to Master Plan documents.

In addition, explore the acquisition of open space parcels in the southwestern portion of the township in efforts to create a park.

Commercial recommendations in the short term includes allowing outdoor dining as an accessary use in commercials zones that permit eating and drinking businesses; and examining the potential for mixed-use development along the Spotswood-Englishtown Road corridor, as well as conducting an Area in Need of Redevelopment study for the corridor.

Residential recommendations contain items such as ensuring that off-street parking requirements for residential uses comply with RSIS (Residential Site Improvement Standards).

Monroe Township’s population has increased from 2010’s population of 39,132 to 48,594 in 2020. The township’s population is projected to be 50,332 come 2045, according to documents.

Mitigating the potential for flooding impacts is just one of 23 recommendations part of the Infrastructure and Utilities recommendations in the Master Plan. The plan suggests that the recommendation be completed in the next two years.

Other recommendations in Infrastructure and Utilities are ensuring developers are subject to funding a proportionate share of any off-tract improvements for utility services; requiring existing above ground utilities to be relocated underground for redevelopment projects; and making certain that all new developments include the required number of electric vehicles charging stations, according to documents.

“The township is really a leader in compliance with the Water Quality Accountability Act, which ensures that the township has adequate water capacity in its infrastructure to accommodate current and anticipated growth in the township,” Cancilla said.

“Additional recommendations [include] the township considering alternative energy sources,” he said.

For more information on the 2022 Master Plan, visit www.monroetwp.com.

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