The Chatham Borough Planning Board plans to discuss a draft of proposed master plan amendments for historically industrial districts around the Passaic River at its Wednesday meeting.
The draft amendments (PDF) call for new zoning regulations that would promote a wider variety of uses, including multi-family housing, taller buildings and even allow for the possibility of a boutique hotel in a section of Chatham near the Union County border. The master plan amendments are being considered in light of plans by Merck to expand its opreations in neighboring Summit. Officials have said the area of Chatham that's near the expansion is not as attractive as it could be.
Zoning regulation changes could lead to "larger-scale, pedestrian-oriented" development opportunities that would spruce up the area, create jobs and boost tax revenue, the draft says.
The limited capacity of the River Road-Watchung Avenue intersection is among the challenges facing any large-scale development efforts there, the draft notes.
The Planning Board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the municipal building, 54 Fairmount Ave.
While the proposal is a discussion item on the agenda, it's not a formal public hearing, according to a notice on the borough website. The board is required to hold a formal public hearing before adopting any master plan amendment.
For the River Road / Watchung Avenue Gateway Area, new development of up to three stories should be encouraged, the document says. The proposal suggests allowing four-story buildings could be offered as an incentive to developers in exchange for providing access to the riverfront.
"The River Road / Watchung Gateway into the Borough should be a welcoming and well-defined, mixed-use entry into the community with its own character," the draft says.
New housing options could benefit aging residents and young professionals, it says. Sidewalk, streetscape and signage improvements also are envisioned.