The Montclair Planning Board voted Monday night to sign off on the construction of an assisted-living facility on the privately owned Church Street Parking Lot, despite the fact that litigation seeking to halt the project is pending, according to The Montclair Times.
Developer and landlord Dick Grabowsky has filed a legal appeal opposing the project, the paper said.
Grabowsky claims that former Mayor Jerry Fried and former Councilor Nick Lewis should never have approved the project in the first place since both are members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, next door to the parking lot where the $40 million facility is due to be built.
According to Grabowsky, the congregation would gain from the project's construction since the facility's residents may become church members.
In May, making an assisted-living facility an allowable project on Church Street.
At the time, the council voted in favor of an amendment that would allow an 88-bed assisted-living facility to be included in the plans of the developer—Fountain Square Properties.
That vote came after David Faeder, a managing partner at Fountain Square, made a strong case for the facility.
He said the project—which would result in 100 permanent jobs—would boast a $3.6 million payroll and give preference to Montclair-based workers.
Faeder also estimated that the plan would bring in $304,000 a year in Payment In Lieu of Taxes money.
"This will allow seniors and their family members to remain in town and participate in all the great things going on in town," he said.
But many, in addition to Grabowsky, have expressed concerns about the project.
Luther Flurry, executive director of the Montclair Center Business Improvement District (BID), has distributed a letter from the group's executive committee.
"The leadership of the BID would welcome assisted living into parts of the district, but has reservations about assisted living in the heart of the district, abutting the South Park Street project," Flurry said. "Our core concerns about assisted living are about economic impact within the district and impacts on the vibrancy of a renovated South Park."
What do you think of the project? Let us know in the comments section below.