Master plan update in progress

| 22 Feb 2012 | 08:11

    Small steps taken while borough reviews land use and imagines the future, By Mark J. Yablonsky FRANKLIN — Quietly and diligently, the borough is at work modifying its master plan, as it must every six years in accordance with the state’s municipal land use law regulations. The last time Franklin had to do that was in 2003, and at that time the town ended up doing “a completely new one,” as Jim Kilduff, the borough’s director of planning and community development said. This time Franklin will simply look to make adjustments and alterations to its ’03 plan, which was prepared by Heyer and Gruel of New Brunswick. Planner Ken Nelson is currently assisting the town instead. “What we’re doing is re-examining the 2003 master plan and looking at things that work, things that haven’t worked and changes we might want to make going forward,” Kilduff said. “And there will be some new elements added to the plan. For example, the DOT corridor study will be completed and modified to be included as a new circulation plan element.” Kilduff pointed out also, that “there will be a new housing plan element, which will be incorporated into the master plan.” And, Franklin’s planning board will be looking at the borough’s current zoning as it reviews recommendations for changes in land use patterns. Main Street In 2003, a lot of the emphasis was on the town’s long-awaited intent to revitalize Main Street, which was once Franklin’s economic heart, but has sat commercially dormant in the last four decades, while the Route 23 corridor has taken over that role. Part of that master plan included a huge, two-tiered project on former New Jersey Zinc Co. land along Main Street that was once the central nervous system behind the decades of zinc mining throughout the first half of the 20th century. Part of that plan stated clearly that the former change house was to be a focal point behind both the commercial and residential revitalization of that tract. However, the landowner Anthony Patire and the borough have been unable to reach agreement and the project remains frozen. Some have called it a “dead issue.” Mayor Paul Crowley, however, doesn’t completely agree with that assessment. “We’re considering redevelopment and the owner has indicated he has some ideas,” Crowley said. “And hopefully, he can bring a plan forward soon.” Other projects In the meantime, other projects already approved by the planning board may be jeopardized by the state Department of Environmental Protection’s recent intent to alter the county and borough’s planning map to remove a lot of that land from sewer service area consideration. If that sticks, any or most planning — approved or pending — would effectively be eviscerated, borough officials agree. Given the current economic climate affecting both the state and country, many experts now worry that it may be several years before recovery of some kind takes effect. Still, Franklin is committed to moving forward, all the while hoping that the rest will take care of itself along the way. “Remember, planning is something we do in anticipation of what will occur, or what we would like to see occur,” Kilduff clarified. “So I think it’s particularly helpful that the planning board is using this time now to review and update it (master plan). We’re doing updates to reflect the current situations.” “We want to have a plan in place for the time we hopefully can go forward,” Crowley said.