The new vision includes a far wider variety of possible uses, including offices, restaurants, shops, and retail and design showrooms, borough planner Susan Blickstein said in a presentation at Monday's Borough Council meeting.
Nov. 13 is the target date for a Planning Board public hearing on the final draft of the master plan amendment, Blickstein said.
The proposal calls for creating a "Gateway" overlay zone straddling the M-1 and M-3 zones, historically industrial districts around the Passaic River near the entrance to Chatham from Union County, to give developers a second set of options to promote certain types of development.
The borough could update its zoning regulations to align with the master plan. Eventually, officials hope that could lead to larger-scale, pedestrian-oriented development that would spruce up the area, create jobs and boost tax revenue.
Blickstein said the limited capacity of the River Road-Watchung Avenue intersection is among the challenges facing large-scale development efforts there.
She said there's no way of knowing when any development might happen.
Councilwoman Vicki Fife said people already are taking notice of the possible changes, and said the borough engineer has fielded calls from people trying to learn more.
"There definitely is noise out there that Chatham is looking to open up its zoning," Fife said.
Mayor Bruce Harris said Chatham is working to update its vision for the area at the same time Summit is looking at what to do with the Merck property near the Chatham border, which the company announced would be vacated.
Merck had announced plans to expand its Summit facility, which was one of the things Chatham officials had in mind as they considered amendments.
Harris talked to Summit's mayor about what Chatham is planning, and there are ways the towns can market the properties, he said.