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Zoning Board Rejects Plan for Centennial Village Housing

The Centennial Village area is zoned to help it develop into a downtown-style hub for commerce and pedestrian traffic, said the board.

The Cranford zoning board last night rejected the final site plan for a six-unit apartment complex planned for Centennial Village. Residents came out to speak against the development, which sought several variances that some said went against the character of the neighborhood.

The Centennial Village area is zoned to help it develop into a downtown-style hub for "retail trade," commerce and pedestrian traffic, said board member William Montani.

The main point of contention for those on the board opposing it—only board member Barbara Ginsberg decided not to support the application denial— was that there would be units on the bottom floor, as opposed to stores, which would have been more in line with the zoning requirements.

Board Vice Chairman Jefferey Pistol said he didn't want to approve the application for the apartments because it would set a precedent for similar structures in the area. "I do appreciate the fact that Mr. [Antonio] Somma is trying to design a building that looks very nice in appearance," said Pistol, "trying to do what he thinks is good for the benefit of the Centennial Village. However, I believe that it's really a move in the wrong direction."

Steve December 11, 2012 at 01:40 PM
How many more apartment units can Cranford absorb? Riverfront alone will house more people than many small towns in America. And if Birchwood goes forward -- as it now appears -- we might as well change our town's name to Cranford City.
Kathleen G December 11, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Yes, because Looking at the turnover of stores in Cranford because of ridiculous rental fees, far be it from Cranford to want the tax revenue from residential rather than commercial.
M L December 11, 2012 at 07:29 PM
He must not know the right people, we have to deal with all these large ghetto projects other places in the town and a 6 unit bldg gets turned down.. guess he doesnt know how to kick back. PS I am against all of the recent and proposed apartments that are to be built before anyone feels the need to chime in about my comment
M L December 11, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Kathleen, Taxes get paid if a store is vacant or if its rented. They are paid by the owner of the building (the ones who set the ridiculous rental fees)
Camilo H. Smith (Editor) December 11, 2012 at 11:18 PM
One of the arguments made by the developer was that by bringing people to live in the area it would be a boost to Centennial Village's economy. More people who would walk out their doors to buy a slice of pizza, go to the salon, eat at the restaurant, etc.
Steve December 12, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Thanks for the input, Camilo. That argument is a generic one often made by a residential developer seeking a variance in a commercially zoned area. It proves too much. Such arguments brought us Riverfront and Cranford Crossing, which destroyed much of the small-town character attracting me to Cranford some decades ago. And as far as taxes, mine have steadily gone up -- they are now over $20K a year -- especially after those architectural and community-destroying monstrosities took root, much as a fungus takes root in rotting soil. These smaller proposed developments are as if the fungal spores were spreading throughout town; while the larger proposed developments, such as Birchwood, will be the host for that which brings us closer to the final destruction of Cranford as we once knew it.
Camilo H. Smith (Editor) December 12, 2012 at 04:36 AM
That's a powerful comment, Steve.
Steve December 12, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Yeah, I had fun riffing on the fungus analogy, Camilo. Seriously, I am a longtime resident of Cranford. In fact, the family's roots (there goes that flora thing again) go back almost a hundred years. I myself settled here because of the small-town scale and sense of community prevailing some decades ago. I represent the point of view of tradition and character of a former Cranford, one that, in large measure, ceased to exist by the turn of the present century. The town probably "jumped the shark" with the erection of Cranford Crossing, and there is likely no turning back. However, I realize there are other views of the town, particularly among younger people and newcomers (relatively speaking). Many of those have never known a Cranford without a Cranford Crossing, or a chichi Hanson Park (which was artificially erected in a flood plain by tearing down natural growth that had taken root since the days of the 19th-century Rahway River carnivals). Some believe the addition of new tax ratables will reduce their own tax burden. But I don't know; mine have inexorably increased, along with ill-conceived development in town. Nevertheless, I still entertain romantic notions of a quieter, less frantic Cranford, a town of more human scale. I continue to cling to respect for the town's land, with which I still feel some connection to our history. G-d help us all If Dreyer Farms is ever turned over to the developers.
Camilo H. Smith (Editor) December 13, 2012 at 07:53 AM
Steve, Dreyer Farms has to stay there, forever. I'm hoping.

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