How are the Republicans in the U.S. Senate and House similar to the many Democrats on Montclair’s Township Council, Planning Board, and Zoning Board?

Rhea Zemblance

Each has a pool pass for the Montclair Art Museum’s future water wall.

Um…no. The similarity is that most GOP politicians keep supporting the awful Trump no matter what he says or does while most Montclair officials keep giving developers what they want no matter how problematic the projects are.

I Call That Not a Bargain

As Dionne Warwick sang about the cordial relationship many a Montclair official has with developers: “Keep smiling/keep shining/knowing you can always count on me, for sure/THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FORRRR…”

Heck, after all the overbuilding in Montclair, and the recent lawsuit against the Planning Board/Township Council-backed Lackawanna Plaza redo, can you believe the Zoning Board okayed cramming the 46-unit MC Residences onto an Orange Road site when no more than 18 units should be allowed?

Pinnacle Piles On

Sadly, I can believe it, even though that area of downtown is already bulging at the seams. Plus the MC Residences site is near Hillside School — meaning students there will not only be between Nishuane and Glenfield, but between a rock and a hard place.

Near Montclair Community Pre-K, too. How will MCPK’s kids and Hillside’s 3rd-5th-graders reach their schools through all the bus- and car-stymying congestion caused by MC Residences, The MC hotel, Valley & Bloom, etc.?

Ella Mentary


There are plans for 17 of the 46 units to be two-bedroom apartments. That means additional students our tax money will help pay to educate, right?

N. Rollment

Shh! We’re told to believe that new apartments bring few new kids. So in order for Montclair officials and developers to claim they’re not overcrowding Montclair’s filled-up schools with more students, we’ll call those students “classroom bipeds.”

Getting back to Congress, are Donald Payne Jr. (10th District, which includes Montclair) and Mikie Sherrill (11th District, which includes Upper Montclair) being strong enough in fighting the existential threat to democracy that is Racist-in-Chief Trump and his gutless Republican enablers?

House of the Rising Stun

No, though Payne has been somewhat better in that respect than his fellow Democrat Sherrill, who obviously doesn’t want to risk irking Republicans in her district too much. She’s channeling AOC — not the great Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but Abundance Of Caution.

A shame, because certain politicians — like AOC, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren — courageously try to get ahead of some of their constituents. Still, isn’t Sherrill much better than Rodney?

Free of Frelinghuysen

Actually, Rodney Dangerfield was quite funny, though his “I don’t get no RESPECT” shtick was puzzling given that he could easily afford to buy Aretha Franklin’s powerful version of Otis Redding’s song. THAT’S WHAT CASH IS FORRRR…


Dave Astor, author, is the MontClairVoyant. His opinions about politics and local events are strictly his own and do not represent or reflect the views of Baristanet.




81 replies on “MontClairVoyant: Developer Schools Us in Overbuilding Near Hillside”

  1. I fully support the Zoning Board’s decision to allow the housing higher density. They were not charged with setting density policy, just the question of what the law said. It was unquestionablely the right decision.

    I read the ordinance when it was introduced for 1st Reading and I immediately saw the wording would permit the higher density. It was unmistakably clear as the Zoning Board concluded.

    It was also clear that the wording was advocating two distinctly different, incompatible policy stances on desired housing density. The Council could have revised the ordinance. They did not. Why?

    Any number of the land use people involved would have also seen it if they bothered to read it, as I did. People likely didn’t read it because the Council has created a “they know best” culture around them. I have stopped counting the number of flawed ordinances that this Council has approved. Why is that? Yes, the Planning Department and the Planning Board should have pointed out the conflicting language before the vote. They both had ample opportunity as it sat out in plain site until the hearing several weeks later.

    It is clear we need more collaborative dynamic in addition to more transparency and “local rules of the road” for unsolicited intrusions in each of their respective sandboxes.

  2. Thank you for the comment, Frank! It’s true that the Township Council could have revised the language — or used different language in the first place. (Methinks the majority of TC members are very happy that Pinnacle is getting all those MC Residences units.)

    Perhaps technically the Zoning Board had no other choice but to rule as it did for 46 rather than 18 units at MC Residences, but I wish it had found a creative way to rule in favor of the lower number. That area of Orange Road will become ridiculously — and, with the two schools, maybe dangerously — crowded.

    I guess we’ll now see what the Planning Board does re MC Residences. Given the PB’s overdevelopment-friendly history, perhaps it will change the 46 units to 46,000 units, with 99% of the parking spaces in “The Cloud.”

  3. Agree with your Council comment (the AH people are happy too. After reading the introduced ordinance, I thought the Council ignored the PB’s recommendation on the mixed-use density, but accepted their other recommendation of lower density if only townhouses were proposed.

    As far as our government finding a creative way to circumvent the law, don’t you think the Trump administration has shown us where this leads? (Maybe if we were particularly adept at it, but our record in court is a lowlight. πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ )

  4. Frank, Trump’s circumventing of laws always has negative consequences on a national or international level, while trying to keep density on Orange Road at a somewhat reasonable level would be a positive, but your point is well taken.

  5. Ha! Yes, an important six words. πŸ™‚ An “I fought the law and the law won”* situation of sorts. πŸ™‚

    *From the Sonny Curtis song covered by The Clash.

  6. * ha, didn’t know that was a cover

    My suggestion would be John Mayall’s “The Laws Must Change” on the Turning Point album. The album was noteworthy in that it eliminated the lead guitar and drums, creating a more subdued sound. Appropriate, maybe, for the times we live in. An essential for any collection.

  7. Frank, “The Laws Must Change” is a title VERY relevant to the Montclair topic we’re discussing, and the album it’s on sounds really inventive/different.

    As you know, some covers are so great that they’re better than the original song, and might even be mistaken for the original. Among my favorites: “All Along the Watchtower” (Jimi Hendrix covering Bob Dylan) and “Hurt” (Johnny Cash covering Nine Inch Nails).

  8. I change of topic…and I hesitated before wading into this…but, I am.

    I was listening to some post-debate analysis on MSNBC with the usual blah, blah. However, one talking head made a point that, in hindsight, resonated with me. She criticized the CNN moderators for their really lazy and biased (my words) approach to their questions. She accused them of essentially parroting Republican talking points and in a way that put all the candidates on the defensive. The moderators constructed their questions in a way that gave the Republican position credence and wanted the candidates to explain why the their positions had merit. The candidates fought an uphill battle all night.

    The candidates would have received better treatment if Fox had hosted the debate. The choice of CNN will come back to haunt the Democrats. The party just can’t stop its self-destructive ways.

  9. Further, the DNC choice of debate format was the equivalent of political speed dating. We better get used to the idea that Trump will get reelected. The only good news, if unintentional, was that there is a new generation of younger Democrats with potential operating outside of Washington. So, in 4-8 years, there is a chance the Democratic Party can rise from the ashes.

  10. Frank, I agree that the CNN moderators mostly didn’t acquit themselves well. They DID parrot Republican talking points at times, and a number of questions were obviously asked in a way designed to encourage the candidates to criticize each other and thus (in CNN’s hopes) up the ratings and “entertainment” quotient. I’m not sure any network would have run things better — serious, mature, responsible, illuminating political debate is not a big-enough part of any of their DNAs.

    Will reply separately to your 8:47 pm comment.

  11. There is indeed a chance Trump will get reelected, but I don’t believe the Democrats’ debate format would be a major factor. Given that the current Oval Office occupant maxes out on about 40% support, for Trump to win will require plenty of voter suppression, Russian interference, and other shenanigans — plus some GOP Electoral College math.

    In a fair election — whether in 2020, 2024, or 2028 — the Democrats would have the demographic advantage (among people of color, women, young people, etc.). An advantage that will only continue to grow. But fair elections ain’t happening. Hopefully the Democrats can win despite that.

  12. We’ll have to disagree then. I have no doubt that if Fox was asking the questions, the responses would have been different. Fox can’t be blantantly biased because the viewers know their affinity to all things Republican. Therefore, being a biased antagonist would only have the opposite effect on the viewers and give credence to the Democratic Party platform. A Fox moderator could pose the question that the Republicans believe the earth is round and the candidates could say it earth is flat. The viewers would have thought, hmmm, we know all about Fox, so maybe I need to look at the world differently? Maybe it is flat.

  13. To your 9:09 post…c’mon man. The Russian intelligence agencies figured out the American political landscape and how to manipulate it. No argument. Give them a big assist. But, give Clinton a big assist in finding a way to blow up the coalition that Obama put together.

    Trump doesn’t need the Russians as Trump and the Republican Party can execute it on their own. That is why the party members are throwing its various values under the bus. The independents will determine the outcome as neither party, both similar in size, can win without them. The way this is setting up for the Democrats, the independents have a bad taste for the swamp. If they put up a centrist, Washington insider candidate, they will lose both the election and more credibility.

  14. Enjoyed your partly droll take on Fox News, Frank. I think Fox is a horrible network that has contributed to making today’s Republican Party as appalling as it is, but it does sometimes put a better foot forward when involved with debates or hosting “town halls” with Democrats.

    I totally agree that Hillary Clinton ran a poor campaign in 2016, and was not the right Democratic candidate for the time — too centrist, too tied to Wall Street, etc. Still, she won the popular vote and might have won the Electoral College as well if not for Republican voter suppression (in Wisconsin, for instance) and Russian trickery. But, yes, today’s GOP is capable of doing much of the dirty work on its own. “Moscow Mitch” can help!

    And I also agree that if the Democrats put up a 2020 candidate like Joe Biden, they’re doomed. Lack of enthusiasm will depress turnout among young people, the independents you mentioned, and others who would’ve been likely to vote Democratic.

  15. Montclair should have nothing but bright days to look forward to. The 2024 Presidential campaign starts in less than 3 years and NJ Transit trains should run better. Assuming Trump and the Republican Party don’t change the 2-term limit, will have a new President. Republican or Democratic, he/she will satisfy Montclair’s high standard of “it is better than what was there before.”

    Good night Mr. and Mrs. America, from border to border and coast to coast and all the ships at sea.

  16. Ha! Can’t argue that the President who succeeds Trump (whether in January 2021 or — yikes! — January 2025) will most likely be a big improvement. I wonder if SpongeBob SquarePants has Oval Office ambitions?

  17. flipside,

    I’m not one who is going overboard about the Russian’s regime change attacks against the U.S. Our government should respond appropriately. I think we have responded in various ways, but can’t say if it is proportionate. It seems they have not been dissuaded from continuing. One working assumption is that their efforts directly contributed to a regime change in 2016. Maybe. If Clinton had won, it would still have been by a narrow margin. The divide today would be similar. There is no way possible for this country to radically change it values in this short span of time. What has changed is behaviors. It is hard to take a unifying role when you call a good chunk of the country the deplorables. Again, values vs behavior. The Russians interfered, but not nearly to the scale of damage the values of the two candidates caused.

    The U.S has been in the regime change business throughout most of our history. Typical stuff: covert and not so covert, legal & Illegal, assassinations, economic and war, and so on. Now, of course, the newest tool – technology to sow dissent & division. I’m sure we have made more than a few, similar attempts directed at Russia since WWII. A lot of people think Russia was behind JFK’s assignation.

    So, if you want to go down the list of Presidents and their records on regime change, let’s! But, to pick out a youtube video and say Ha? Nah.

  18. The smaller cerca 1890s cottage/houses across the street on Orange Road (that are being dwarfed by all this overdevelopment) have been there as vacation houses since Hillside Avenue was a tourist destination for Montclair’s spring waters. In fact, the MC Hotel and Residences have an underground waterway flowing in front. There have already been big hotel structures in this place and on Bloomfield Avenue but they have all come and gone. Fortunately, History tends to repeat itself.

  19. flipside, sure the Russians interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign when Obama was in office, but they interfered on behalf of Trump, not on behalf of the candidate (Hillary Clinton) who Obama supported. So I’m not sure what point you’re making with your comment and the YouTube link you provided that I just watched.

    Also, Obama in 2016 wanted to go public with a strong bipartisan statement about the possibility of Russian interference but REPUBLICAN Mitch McConnell argued against that, as the link below from a newspaper in McConnell’s state of Kentucky recounts. Obviously, “Moscow Mitch” was happy about the interference because he knew it would aid Trump over Clinton. So patriotic of McConnell that he should have marched in Montclair’s Fourth of July Parade; while on Midland, passing Erwin Park might have reminded him of Gorky Park. πŸ™‚

  20. Dave and Frank….my point is that the US has interfered in foreign affairs and foreigners have interfered in US affairs. Get over it. Trump won for a lot of reasons. Why spend 8 years of your life with your panties in a twist? Life is too sweet and too short to be so consumed with CNN and Huff Post talking points. Too equate Montclair development to Trump is a bit of stretch but if you are happy being miserable…carry on!

  21. Excellent points, Frank R.!

    If Clinton had won (despite her weak campaign and problematic record), the U.S. would indeed still have been sharply divided — with Republicans making things hellish for Clinton just as they did for Obama. (Despite Clinton and Obama both being corporate-friendly centrists in many respects; not all that liberal. Heck, some of their actions made them both Eisenhower-type Republicans at times.)

    And you’re absolutely right that the U.S. itself has been in the regime-change or attempted-regime-change business for a long time. Panama, Nicaragua, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Grenada, Iraq…

  22. flipside: re your second comment, you’re absolutely right that various countries interfere in the affairs of various other countries. The U.S. has done it multiple times, as Frank R. and I also noted, and it was done to the U.S. in 2016. I guess one of the things that irks me is that when the U.S. did it, and when it was done to the U.S., it was always interference geared to making governments more right-wing. I’d like to see some interference on behalf of liberals for a change. πŸ™‚

    Yes, Trump did win for a lot of reasons other than Russian interference. The unfair Electoral College, his racism that made many white voters feel their own racism was validated, voters desperate for a major change when his opponent (Clinton) was so “establishment,” Trump claiming to be a populist (when he really is a corporate Republican who just happens to be cruder than the typical corporate Republican), etc.

    “CNN and Huff Post talking points”? Both those media outlets are actually not that liberal and are owned by big corporations. They’re hardly The Nation or Mother Jones.

    Yes, equating support of Trump to support of Montclair development was a bit of stretch by me, but satire is partly exaggeration.

    Actually, I’m not miserable. Pretty happy with my life, in fact. But that doesn’t mean I can’t feel miserable about seeing Trump and McConnell wreak havoc on democratic norms. (I’m still trying to figure out why McConnell is being called “Moscow Mitch”; did Moscow, Idaho, try to influence the 2016 presidential election? πŸ™‚ )

  23. flipside,

    You’re not making sense.
    You didn’t make any point about both sides being guilty of interference.
    I don’t see where above I equated the President to development.
    You might want to rethink using the expression of panties in a twist going forward.
    I don’t generally watch CNN and definitely don’t read the HuffPost. I do watch Fox, but not regularly.
    I view Fox and MSNBC as two side of the same coin.
    I accept Trump for some time that he will be reelected and my representatives will not impeach him. I’m pretty confident he will never be indicted for anything of consequence.
    If it gets to the point where it makes me miserable, I’ll just move.

  24. Dave, You lost me with unfair electoral college. I guess you don’t buy into the “Tyranny of the Majority” it was designed to protect our society from. How would you feel if 51% was on the right and could dictate to 49% on the left??? Be careful what you wish for. Tides go in and they go out.

  25. frankgg, that’s a REALLY interesting and well-researched article you wrote. I enjoyed the images, too. Thank you for the link!

    If I’m hearing you right, that Orange Road area of downtown has been rather overcrowded before. I just wish history didn’t repeat itself THAT much. Now there’s a second school there (Montclair Community Pre-K), and we’re a much more car-oriented society — meaning traffic is more a problem today than it was many decades ago. And it wouldn’t hurt if MC Residences looked as good as some of those vintage buildings that are or were on/near Orange Road. It doesn’t. πŸ™

  26. flipside, there’s also the “Tyranny of the Electoral College Majority.” During the past two decades, it has cost Democratic candidates Al Gore (in 2000) and Hillary Clinton (in 2016) the presidency DESPITE EACH WINNING THE POPULAR VOTE. So unfair and undemocratic. But I can see why the Republican Party loves it. Maybe the GOP will even support free tuition for the Electoral College. πŸ™‚

  27. Dave, Nothing is permanent. What if the tone of the country changes? You would be screaming for the Electoral College. The popular vote isn’t always accurate. In deep Blue and deep Red states voters in the minority party tends to stay home. It is pointless for a Rep. to vote in Cal or NY and pointless for a Dem to vote in Wyoming so who knows what the real vote would be if the election was determined by popular vote.
    As it is the country is pretty much split equally. Viva la diversity even if it doesn’t fit the Dave Astor world view and work 100% for your benefit. Enjoy the fruits of this wonderful country. Much of that fruit is provided by the deplorables. God Bless the red necks!

  28. Thanks for the comment, flipside. I would NEVER scream for the Electoral College, even if it started to benefit Republican presidential candidates (though I doubt that would happen). As I said, it’s just unfair and undemocratic.

    Actually, it’s the Electoral College that makes votes from citizens registered with the minority party in very red or very blue states not worth as much. Under a popular vote-only system, a Democrat in, say, very-red-state Wyoming and a Republican in, say, very-blue-state California would have a more impactful vote in a nationwide sense. Under the Electoral College, their votes have almost zero impact.

  29. Oops — meant to write: “I would never scream for the Electoral College, even if it started to benefit DEMOCRATIC presidential candidates (though I doubt that would happen).”

    That’s what I get for trying to quickly write a reply just before dinner… πŸ™‚

  30. Dave, You do know we live in a representative republic. The Founding Fathers were very wise and knew the dangers of 51% of the people dictating to other 49%. I doubt they foresaw the lunacy of putting our future in the hands of AOC or Bernie but they knew a pure democracy was doomed to fail.

  31. flipside, the U.S. would still be a representative republic and not a pure democracy without the Electoral College. Heck, few things are decided by voter referendum.

    And I think it’s troublesome when a minority of citizens (such as the three million fewer people who voted for Trump than Clinton) basically dictate to the majority. The rights of the minority can be protected in all kinds of non-Electoral College ways — via the House, the Senate, the courts, etc. — though of course wealthy/white/male/corporate/etc. interests have a disproportionate influence on all that.

    The Founding Fathers were indeed wise in many ways, but that wisdom didn’t look quite so “wisdom-y” back then if one was female, a person of color, and not a rich property owner.

    If you associate “lunacy” with AOC and Bernie Sanders — two people I think are sincerely interested in the welfare of most people, not the “1%” — I can’t imagine what word Trump, McConnell, etc., should be associated with.

  32. Dave, keep in mind the 1% never took your money, you voluntarily gave it to them. AOC and Bernie on the other hand…

  33. Actually, people are often involuntarily forced to turn over more money than they should to the 1%. Three examples would be the too-high rents some big landlords charge, the too-high premiums private health-insurance companies often charge, and the too-high interest rates banks often set for credit cards and loans.

  34. Dave, you should move to Cuba…haha..joking. Easy, don’t rent where you can’t afford to live, get a government job and stuff the health care costs on the taxpayers, and don’t borrow money. Problems solved.

  35. I should’ve moved to tuba (when I used to play the trumpet), but that’s another story…

    “Don’t rent where you can’t afford to live”? — easier said than done. For people who aren’t affluent, rents almost everywhere take more than the recommended 30% bite out of income.

    “Get a government job and stuff the health care costs on the taxpayers”? — Oh, you mean like Republicans in Congress who hypocritically oppose Medicare for All and try to eradicate Obamacare yet get “Cadillac” government-funded health care for themselves? And of course non-congressional government workers have to pay part of the cost of their health care.

    “Don’t borrow money”? If you need to buy a car for work, or want to buy a small house, most people can’t afford to immediately buy it outright.

    (People seeking housing could always live in a rented UPS Store box, but the one-square-inch stove is a challenge when cooking…)

  36. And in the borrow-money category, flipside, what about less-affluent students who need to borrow some $$ for college? Even the cost of community college and public universities is a lot for some people.

  37. Simple Dave…pay the interest rate the free market sets. The government got involved in housing and the result was housing prices exploded and a financial crisis. The government got involved in college loans and the cost of college exploded…the crisis awaits. Artificially controlling the rate and the ability to borrow leads to disaster. I know you are big on income inequality and the 1% but I look at at it differently. Huge gaps in income are a sign that there is huge opportunity. Start a business in your dorm room and become a billionaire. How good is that!!! Sit around all day complaining the system is unfair and you end up sitting around all day complaining and feeling like a victim. No thanks…

  38. flipside, the “free market” is warped in the sense that it’s allowed to be “free” when it favors corporations but becomes “socialism for the rich” when corporations are in trouble. A prime example was the $700-billion bank bailout of 2008; shouldn’t banks have been allowed to fail given that they brought it on themselves in a “free market”?

    Actually, college loans offered by the government generally are less onerous for students than college loans from private sources. Doesn’t sound like a disaster to me.

    As for income inequality, sure, some people make their own fortune. More often, wealth is passed down from generation to generation. Trump, the Walton children, the Koch brothers, etc., would most likely not be super-wealthy if it weren’t for daddy.

    I wouldn’t want to be rich if that money came from parental wealth, if it meant exploiting workers, if it meant stiffing contractors, if it meant massively cheating on taxes, etc. Boo-hoo — I can’t afford to eat at the new Montclair restaurant Faubourg; I’ll survive somehow. πŸ™‚

  39. Dave, I could blind you with logic and facts but why bother? I apologize if I sound condescending but you are clueless about markets and how finance works including the bailouts.

  40. I am only commenting here on the density issue since it’s been decided by the zoning board now and I have to vote on this overall project — again coming to the PB. The density question has now been made clear.

    Nonetheless, this was a major screw up between the Planning Dept., the town attorney and town manager(s) he reports to…AND the township council. Ostensibly it was a drafting edit error, which the developers picked up on and rushed in their application to take advantage — but their application submitted was first deemed incomplete by the Planner. Which meant there was now a 30 day window for the Council to vote to change and re-ammend the language in the Plan still, without engendered a lawsuit likely under the “time of application” rule. This rule means that what ever the zoning is when an application is submitted and deemed complete by the Planning Department — is the zoning for that project — even if the zoning there is changed later. In this case, the “zoning” is determined within the Redevelopment Plan. But here now, the new application was deemed incomplete in Sept. of 2018. So the zoning could still have been changed or reclarified — until the application was deemed complete.

    But the Council didn’t re-edit the Plan again then and reduce the density clearly with new language to where they had originally called it — when they still could have. It wasn’t the planning board who originally picked 18 units per acre here. It was the Council, in their first draft sent to the PB for review. We just went along with that. We either didn’t see the language problem in the body copy or that problem was created afterward in redrafting once it left us.

    Reportedly, there were then issues of different posted amendment drafts…by the different people involved…or with different language showing in a posted, on-line version..compared to the draft at the Council meeting for vote…so that it may have appeared someone showed intent now to actually raise the density. Not a drafting error and not clear who. Doesn’t matter. There was no investigation of this to follow and no ones head rolled. Head in the sand.

    Everyone involved was way to litigation fearful here — is the sad ending. You don’t legislate, or not legislate because you’re afraid of being sued. You legislate on policy. Then deal.

    I disagreed with the zoning board’s take on this (forget that they were led to water by their attorney inappropriately in my view). But it’s now been decided. The density issue is done — short of someone suing.

    The PB will now evaluate this proposed project as a standard site plan, based on the newly amended Plan — for which I can and will approach with a completely open mind, ready to hear evidence and applicant testimony support for what they are presenting. The density issue as a number to be calculated now — has been effectively decided.

  41. You can rest assured you won’t see a shared parking plan from the applicant. Why, when the Master Plan, the Redevelopment Plan strongly encourage them? When every redevelopment application in Town submitted a Shared Parking Plan? Be careful you yourselves aren’t led to water once again…or put to sleep by a bedtime story.

    I would hope the PB doesn’t, once again, for the same redevelopment, get distracted by parking technology and instead tries using common sense. It’s a stacking system with 100% (100%) valet parked. Even the Zip car is valet parked. Who really cares if a stacker breaks, a car can’t get out. Focus. Focus people. Where do you add value beyond just rubber stamp?

  42. Planning Board: I know this can only be a one-way, but thanks for listening.

    I am looking forward to that drop-off zone as my new, favorite downtown public/private parking space. Don’t forget to listen very closely to the testimony on this. Not to worry if you hear the Ghost of Lackawanna Past whispering, “remember the Fire Dept testimony!”

    I also have to say carving out a special MC, 2-space drop-off zone, is special…when during the school year the entire street is a drop-off zone. It’s very “Felix Unger-like” land use.

    I’ll guess the Montclair Environmental Commission will not notice this “green” building will offer 2-cars per housing unit and the RDA Plan says 1 space per housing unit (the extra 0.1 goes to guests) is good enough. In all in the sleight of hand. I’m sure this will be a Silver building (not to be confused with the other developer in Town).

    Do you think anyone will look at the daytime parking demand figure and compare it to the Township’s sales contract with the developer? Nah! The Planning Board nods off when people start talking about parking details. I don’t blame them.

    The only thing that is interesting about this application is the manipulation of the parking issue. It will be great entertainment with a high level of ineptitude and bs. Therefore, it will get approved. The over/under is 2 meetings.

  43. flipside, if I’m “clueless about markets and how finance works,” why do I know that both Acme and Kings (markets) are on Valley Road and that a Monopoly player gets $200 when passing “Go” (finance)? Plus I have the general math skills to count up points in Yahtzee and Big Boggle.

  44. Thank you, Martin, for all that information and perspective on MC Residences ending up with the possibility of 46 units rather than what would have been a much less onerous 18 units.

    Whether this was a mistake or deliberate subterfuge by various officials on and off the Township Council (in causing the problem and not fixing the problem), they acquitted themselves very poorly. And it’s depressing when developers take advantage of something like that. It proves once again that certain developers are profit/profit/profit-minded rather than community-minded.

  45. Frank, I’m not a fan of valet parking, even as I can sort of understand it at certain restaurants. But having valet parking for tenants in a (partly) residential building such as MC Residences just seems wrong — and is among the “proofs” that there are too many units in that proposed building.

  46. Dave,

    NYC has its Statue of Liberty and β€˜give us your huddled masses’ & congestion pricing.
    We’ll valet park your masses and throw in the congestion for free!

  47. Ha, Frank! I enjoyed that witty comparison. πŸ™‚

    Perhaps Montclair should build the “Statue of Variance,” in honor of the many dispensations our town’s officials give developers to overbuild.

  48. Thanks, Frank!

    Montclair developers could also be celebrated with a local Ellis Island replica called β€œLS Island.” The LS of course standing for β€œLoot Seeking”…

  49. And just to focus everyone, I direct one and all to the Parking License Agreement document. Martin and your fellow colleagues (and the PB attorney) should really read it. The Council has once again marginalized you.
    The Montclair Local, Mtc Times, et al. should read it, but you will need some contract law and a planner to explain the gifts within.

    I’m guessing it was drafted by the developer. Each clause has it’s gift to them. While the developers of Gateway 1 have been 2 steps ahead from the start, their lawyers gave us 2 mistakes in return.

    Just very entertaining document…available for review at Township hall.

  50. Thank you for mentioning that, Frank. When you said the document seemed like it was drafted by developers, I was reminded (though it’s of course far from an exact comparison) of how the ALEC organization has basically written, in secret, many right-wing/corporate-friendly bills for state legislatures around the country. In the U.S., and in many U.S. towns, private companies are sort of the “permanent government.”

  51. People like Alec Baldwin? Seriously? I understand they might like his characters, but the person? Eeewwhh!

    My 5:42 was stupid at 5:43. It did sound funny @ 5:41.

    Anyway, I’m back to serious and I just can’t get over the signed agreement I read. Apparently it was signed at the end of…..2013… 6 months into their term. The term where they all said the Fried Council really screwed up and they were going to make the best of it. Best line of the administration! They were going to make the best of it?

    Now, 6 years later, I understand all the emphasis the Councilors place on the Deputy Mayor vote.
    The 4th Ward should note that vote was not all that it appears and you need to get real…before the election.

    Hopefully, they are bookend moments.

  52. “They were going to make the best of it?”

    Yes, a council with two lawyers led by a developer. Yup!

  53. True, Frank, about Alec Baldwin — good actor, problematic person.

    Ha — your 5:41, 5:42, 5:43 riff. πŸ™‚

    “A council with two lawyers led by a developer”? Sounds like the inspiration for a bar joke: Two lawyers and a developer walk into a bar and order a drink. “We’ll have ‘The Township Council’…on the rocks.” The end.

  54. πŸ™‚

    Before the Redevelopment started here over 20 years ago, we had 116 public parking spaces.
    Today, we have none. Zero. This is the part of this redevelopment the public doesn’t understand.

  55. That’s a very interesting and telling statistic, Frank. Montclair’s overdevelopment has/causes many problems (increases traffic, crowds schools, often doesn’t look good, is mostly geared to the affluent, etc.) and parking is definitely one of them. There are just not enough parking spaces below the new buildings, in parking lots, and in parking decks to keep pace with all the new residential units and new commercial space. And, as you noted, some public parking spaces are lost, too. Of course, if there WERE all the spaces needed, downtown Montclair would look kind of hellish.

  56. To expand on my 10:53 am comment’s last line: I wouldn’t want so much new parking that downtown looks worse. I want less/smaller new development, which would reduce the need for more parking spots. πŸ™‚

  57. This sad story gets worse…

    Public parking spaces fees are, by definition, subsidized by the taxpayers. We sold the developers our spaces at a publicly subsidized rate.

    Further, a a 24/7 permit in the Crescent Deck costs $130/month. We sold our Orange Road parking spaces to the developer for $50/month!

    Even further, a permit holder is prohibited from reselling their permit space right (for profit). The developer can resell that space we sold them any which way they want.

    Not stopping there, 10 spaces have disappeared.

    (And, the new uses that redevelopment projects provide were suppose to require their own parking capacity.)

    Lastly, the small portion “public” parking the remains, the developer has placed conditions on how we can use it – primarily, we can only use it for the redevelopment project uses only!

    This is Gateway 1. The redevelopment project of endless public largess!

  58. And in the unlikely event that those residents on the commuter parking permit wait list don’t get the point, they should know we sold our permit spots to the developer for $50/space while they have to pay $60 when and if they ever get a space.

  59. And, maybe the Township decides it wanted to use some of their Orange Rd spaces to provide parking for the employees of our growing Police Department, nope. The agreement specifically prohibits this. But, we have no problem approving housing providing almost 2/cars per apartment. As I said, the Planning Board is powerless to do anything about this. All they will be doing with this new application is ratifying the largess.

    No worries. We will get some public art, and its public benefit, in the renovated Church Street fountain.

  60. Thank you for that information, Frank. It’s infuriating when private companies such as developers get better deals than citizens do, or when taxpayers end up directly or indirectly subsidizing private companies. Makes a mockery of fairness and democracy, though of course none of this is surprising. After next year’s elections, I really hope to see more Montclair leadership that isn’t so developer-friendly at the expense of the community at large.

    I’m sure a renovated Church Street fountain will be stunning enough to draw people from inches around.

  61. Don’t forget the bike lanes around the fountain πŸ™‚ πŸ˜‰

    We have been repeatedly told that redevelopment projects won’t happen without these sizable concessions. The two Redevelopment Plans where we did not make sizable concessions, the developer backed out. In the case of Lackawanna, the developer eschewed a plan for a straight-up development application using existing zoning…and a resolution from the Council.

    New leadership will not likely change our municipal mindset. In fact, each new Council campaigned on doing redevelopment smarter & better than the Councils before them. The Planning Boards says they will do it smarter and better than previous Planning Boards. The problem is neither body does any formal hindsight analysis. This worked, that didn’t.
    The Zonning Board does it every year (by law). The HPC doesn’t do it like required, but they did do it for Redevelopment Projects. Kudos there.

    So, I expect the 2020 candidates will say they can do better without any fully understanding or showing how, why and where we fell short. I certainly can’t imagine a candidate ruling out the redevelopment tool. The only thing I see as likely is the unlikeliness of a Gateway 2 Redevelopment Plan. All else being equal, that is a good thing.

  62. Bike lanes around the fountain? Ha ha! πŸ™‚ Cyclists could skip The MC’s rooftop bar and get “drunk” from riding in circles.

    “We have been repeatedly told that redevelopment projects won’t happen without these sizable concessions” — I’ve heard that, too, Frank. Maybe developers have backed out in some cases, but, in general, developers can still make plenty of profit without concessions. They’re just trying to maximize profits, and some Montclair officials are gullible enough or “wink-wink” enough to go along.

    I hear you about how things might not change much after next year’s municipal elections. I hope some candidates will win who “get” Montclair’s not-smart-development problem and know what to do about it, but for me to think that will definitely happen would be naive.

  63. …developers can still make plenty of profit without concessions.

    And it is called organic or market-based development. But, we have to ween ourselves from granting all the big variances.

    Even with organic development, we give public parking subsidies, by ordinance, to projects in downtown.
    The first 15% of expansion does not require parking as it assumes the existing public parking supply can absorb the new space.

  64. A weight-loss place in Montclair could offer the “Fewer Big Variances Diet.” Soon, new buildings would weigh less — and perhaps look better in a bathing suit.

  65. I’m getting a little far a stream on subsidized public parking, but I don’t think residents understand how much we do subsidize public parking.

    For instance restaurants buying public parking to use for valet stations, covered by Mtc Local ( ).

    It is not known what Montclair’s ordinance will be and it will be discussed by the Council tomorrow night. I think it is clear from the intent, and what other towns are doing, that a for-profit valet operation will not be subsidized any longer.

    I still don’t understand why Sunday parking is subsidized downtown to the extent it is now. Is this really “competition for wallets” driven or a holdover from the Blue Law/Holy Day thing?

  66. Interesting comment and article link. I don’t like the idea of restaurants buying up days of time on metered spaces. Fewer parking options for the drivers who won’t necessarily be patronizing those eateries. It would be great if the buying-up weren’t allowed anymore.

    No charges for meters on Sundays? Perhaps a Blue Law/Holy Day holdover indeed. Yes, some loss of revenue, but it’s good to have a break from paying. I never use meters on principle — I’ll park a few blocks away if I have to, and enjoy the exercise. So it’s nice one day a week to be able to park close to a store or restaurant. πŸ™‚

  67. The MC Residences application calls for a 55′ drop-off/pick-up spot in the public right of way. The MC Hotel has their own drop-off/pick-up. The parking deck entrance is off Valley. The Pre-K’s drop-off/pick-up is on the BoE Drive.

    So, we are forsaking 2-3, income producing, public spaces so the small commercial use (that has parking) and the residents & their guest (who have valet service), can also have a dedicated space for their Ubers on public property. Or is this just going to be another valet station?

  68. Agree. The ordinance should be limited to selling valet permits for loading zones. Or, the Town can compromise and charge less for loading zone valet as they are rarely in use when valet is needed…and we are not allowed to park there anyway. If loading zones are not available, then the fee should be higher for taking parking stalls. Let’s see where this goes.

    We have parking subsidies to serve recognized public goods. Providing an additional subsidy on the prices we charge is needs an additional reason. I think giving visitors a break one day a week is fine or for religious observances, fine. But, we should give it another review.

  69. S/b “But, we should give it another review to make sure we are all on the same page”

  70. Thanks for the comments, Frank. From reading your 3:37 pm one, I can see the area on/near Orange Road will soon be even more of a drop-off/pick-up “scene.” If I’m understanding you correctly, The MC hotel and MC Residences drop-off/pick-up zones would replace or partly replace some public parking spaces?

  71. On that side (East) of Orange Rd, there is No Parking along its entire length. It’s been that way for as long as I can recall.

    At both the school start of day and end of day, drop-off/pick-up is allowed along the length of the Board of Ed lot. I can only imagine the scene along the rest of Orange Rd.

    The MC Residences drop-off/pick-up zone would be new and 24/7/365. There is a separate loading zone for MC Residences on Centro Verde Drive (1-way Westbound).

  72. FYI, the drop-off/pickup & valet station area for the hotel is within the building, not on the street.

  73. The substantial majority of hotel streetscape is consumed by this very large car staging area with its extended separate entrance/exit curb cuts and blank walls before and in between. But, happily, the sidewalk will be adorned with “Montclair-style” street lamps. Yes, we have our own style of street lamps. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

  74. Thanks, Frank, for all the information! I drive by that area often, but have never really focused on the parking and drop-off/pick-up situations there.

    Ha — “Montclair-style” street lamps! They make any area look better, unless they don’t. πŸ™‚

  75. I’m finally wrapping this up. I have riled up the “Montclair, love it or leave it” constituency.

  76. Frank, I feel that criticizing the flaws of a town can be an expression of love for the town because the person wants to make the town better or prevent it from becoming less appealing. I love Montclair, but I’m not a fan of some of its leadership and of what some developers are doing to it.

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