It was originally pitched as large apartments geared to empty-nesters who want to age in place and need or want the extra room. Now, the Planning Board, at a meeting Monday, has approved a Township Council proposal to instead allow short-term rental units at MC Residences, located in the Orange Road Redevelopment Area. 

The building, currently under construction as part of the Montclair Center Gateway Redevelopment, was originally approved to hold 40 rental apartments, four of which will be affordable housing units.  

By a vote of 6-1, the majority of Planning Board members agreed that there was no reason to deny the transformation of the building from apartments to a boutique, executive-level, extended-stay hotel. Board member Anthony Ianuale voted against the proposal. 

The Council’s proposed ordinance requires the previously approved affordable housing units to remain, even as the rest of the building becomes a hotel. The township defines a short-stay rental as up to 30 days. 

But concurrent with this approval, board members agreed that the municipality should create broader legislation regulating short-term rental units, which include Airbnb rentals, within Montclair. 

The Township Council introduced an ordinance amending the Montclair Center Gateway Phase 1 Redevelopment Plan in July. Now that the Planning Board has given a green light to the legislation, the Council will schedule the proposed ordinance for a public hearing and final vote. 

“Aren’t they looking at this piecemeal?” Board member Carmel Loughman asked township Director of Planning Janice Talley about the Council. “Shouldn’t the Council be looking at this overall?”

Talley reminded board members that short-term rentals are permitted within Montclair. And “this proposal ensures they pay the hotel occupancy tax,” she said.  She told the board that the Montclair Housing Commission is already working to “draft a comprehensive ordinance” regulating short-term rentals and recommending that the number of affordable housing units in this building increase 20 percent from the current 10 percent. If that were to be approved, the affordable housing requirement for this building would double to eight units from four. 

It makes sense to allow the change at this specific property since it is adjacent to a hotel already, said Board member Carole Willis. But, she added, she was reluctant to allow this sort of hotel without the Planning Board taking a close look and creating legislation. 

Talley recommended that the board’s zoning subcommittee work with the housing commission to come up with suitable legislation. 

The proposal transforms the 36 market-rate rental apartments into short-term furnished corporate/executive rental units. The property is at the site of the former DCH car dealership at the intersection of Bloomfield Avenue and Orange Road.

The Pinnacle Companies, with its joint venture partners, is developing this parcel. The building will be operated by Marriott, which manages the adjacent hotel, the MC. While short-term rentals are not prohibited in the township, Marriott required a formal approval and change in the redevelopment plan for the hotel group to proceed. 

In other action, the board scheduled a discussion on the revised Lackawanna Plaza Redevelopment Plan for their Sept. 18 meeting.

12 replies on “Planning Board Approves Council Proposal for Short-Term Rental Units”

  1. We’re cooking with gas now! Literally. You are all OK with building this to multi family residential code and then charging a hotel occupancy tax. And just to put an exclamation point on the liability exposure, you are putting 4 affordable housing units – spread among the 3 floors – with working kitchens. Stove tops. Ovens. In a building you are designating a hotel?

  2. And since the Planning Board has no qualms making this 100% Affordable Housing units, I guess that shoots the argument for building-out the Watchung Avenue properties (next to Brookdale) for Affordable Housing units.

    Between the Council and the Planing Board, they can’t seem to focus. Of course, the Housing Commission is the king of The Ends justifies The Means so they have no problem trying to double what is 100% Affordable Housing now. Seriously? Just stop and think. The big picture. Not counting notches in your belts. Time for a membership transfusion.

  3. Updating from the past story…the developer here Pinnacle, originally conned the town into getting many more apartment units than he was supposed to, taking advantage of a plan drafting error. As shown in the older Montclair Local article linked below.

    Now, he’s trying to get over again and change the type of housing that he was originally providing under the Gateway One Redevelopment Plan.

    Except that the development was originally “sold” publicly and supposed to provide housing for empty-nesters and seniors to help keep them in town — be it still at market rental prices. Now, this developer willing to change the very fabric of the community to a more transient class — really for his own fiscal gain.

    Those blindly supporting this on the Council who are new, seem to have no awareness of what transpired here in the past. Don’t ask. And while there is nothing wrong with potentially obtaining additional hotel tax revenues for consideration, Peter Yacobellis has accepted a campaign donation this past year directly from Brian Stolar. A year ago, he posted against short term housing. Now, he thinks it may be a good idea. Regardless, taking campaign money from developers is not really a great way to maintain your impartiality on development issues and policies you vote on. Don’t you think?…

    And those who are incumbents and now voting…still don’t see that their failure to act in 2018 (that means you Sean Spiller more than anyone) and correct the Amendment Plan language over how many units are involved as they should have back then — is still creating a housing mess here today.…/

  4. What good is using Redevelopment law if our elected politicians can’t spot zone each other’s spot zoning? This is why we give them learner’s permits.

    This area we refer to as Gateway 1 has been touched and retouched by 6 Councils: Russo’s, Remsen’s, Fried’s, Jackson’s 1 &2, and now Spiller’s. It started with The Magical, Not On Orange Road Parking Deck which is just reaching maturity and maybe completion.

    Each of these administrations have made political hay while the sun shined for them over the previous executional missteps. Again, we, the voters gave the Councils learner permits and learners do what their grantors expect – make mistakes. And these Council’s have each made their fair share of mistakes with this RDA and their own RDA creations. It is not easy to see, but these Councils have repeated the mistakes of their predecessors in addition to their unique ones. Our Council’s never get past the learner’s permit stage. Fixing this is a whole other decision matrix.

    The point today is to remember why we made the Council’s Redevelopment tool the centerpiece strategy of growth in Montclair. Why we are entirely focused on Montclair Center, making it our economic engine and even align them with our public good & policies. It’s about money. This lot, this amendment is just about money. Money coming and going. So be it. Then stand up and be hones and say it about making money. Have the developer buy out the 4 measly Affordable Housing unit obligation. Write a PILOT that maximizes our money – both now and down the road and when the property is sold. Don’t forget that one. But, do one thing right and make the money right. Can you guys do that? Can you?

  5. And some advice on how to sell this…
    Dedicate the 100% of the PILOT revenue (not the hotel tax because that is too complicated) for this building to the Montclair Public School District. All 30 years of it. Let the parents who called for a slice of PILOTs practice and learn from this project. Full transparency. Appoint a parental advisory group to report out each step of the way. Add a little more accountability to their plate. Maybe budget some funds for hiring outside counsel…just in case.
    Trade one public good for another. Brilliant.

  6. Frank,
    Just curious….since Montclair is a sanctuary city does this open the door for housing immigrants? There could be big money in it for the hotel.

  7. flipside,

    How do I know it is really you? I am employing two-step verification these days. If it is really you, enter Belarus into you decoder ring and tell me what it kicks out.

  8. Who else would ask a question like that? I entered Belarus in my decoder ring and it said the cure for Covid is vodka and drive a tractor.

  9. Sorry flipside. I had to roll-back the latest Apple Rapid Security Response patches and use the decoder rings’ 2021 backups. To answer your original question, our doors have been always open – except for immigrants from Cherepovets.

  10. flipside,
    It has been pointed out that the council designated Mtc “a welcoming city”, not a sanctuary city. Of course, the accuracy of my 6:10p post is unaffected by your mistake.

  11. Frank,
    Aha, so the town has a disclaimer on its level of virtue. All are welcome to come but you can’t stay. How very clever! Who says this council isn’t on the ball!

  12. I think we haven’t given the topic proper consideration. For instance, our very limited stock of Affordable Housing is allocated to Montclair residents first. For Lackawanna’s proposed Workforce Housing is ONLY for Mtc union workers. I understand the argument. I think it is wrong.

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