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Planning Board Approves Assisted-Living Facility

The move came despite pending litigation seeking to stop the project.

 

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.

Jessica Henry September 13, 2012 at 05:20 PM
In August, I wrote to every new council member and urged them to say no to this project. Most seemed to think there was nothing that can be done. But I do not agree. While the appeal is pending, the project is not a done deal -- is it? And even if the appeal is lost, there must be ways for the town council to dis-incentivize a project that makes no sense on its face and directly undercuts the (expensive) South Park Street revitalization effort. I realize the new town council did not approve of the project, but it is now up to them to do something to stop it.
Cary Africk September 13, 2012 at 05:34 PM
I wrote an elaborate "what you can do post" and hopefully Shelly will be putting it up soon! In the meantime, yes, write to the Town Council! There are actions the current council can take -- I've been advised by knowledgeable people. For one thing, this Council doesn't have to approve a tax "abatement" (PILOT). There are probably other courses of action, too. But so far this Council has indicated that they DO want the ALF and they are unanimous in their agreement, as is the planning board. Amazing isn't it? The electorate can be 100% against something and their elected representatives do the opposite? As for me, AFL yes, but not at that location! Georgian Inn would be good, for one. Cary
thewayitis September 13, 2012 at 05:39 PM
DZone, thanks, and Jessica, thanks and yes. It seems it's up to current TC now to stop it. From what Cary is saying though, they are in agreement it should go forward. Cary: Thank you and I look forward to seeing that "what you can do" post.
Jessica Henry September 13, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Has the Council affirmatively said they were in favor of the plan, or simply that they feel like their hands are tied? If the latter, then perhaps with enough input from concerned townspeople, they will start to consider the options at their disposal. While I have not taken an official survey, I literally know no one who supports putting the ALF in that location.
montclairgurl September 13, 2012 at 06:12 PM
I suspect the current council is in favor. Something isn't right here, I'm sure there's a back story.

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