In a joint announcement, Democratic candidates for Borough Council, Councilwoman Astri Baillie and former Board of Education member Debra Coen call for the creation of a new, community-driven Master Plan for the borough.
The candidates stated that “a Master Plan is a comprehensive, long-term planning document that provides a framework to guide future growth and development within the municipality. The Master Plan establishes specific goals and objectives for land use and includes analyses, recommendations, and proposals for its population, demographics, economy, housing, transportation, utilities, parks and recreation and other community facilities, as well as the preservation of open space and historic structures.
The adoption of a Master Plan by municipal planning boards is mandated by the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Statute ‘to guide the use of lands within the municipality in a manner designed to protect public health and safety and promote the general welfare.’ The current Master Plan for the Borough of Madison was adopted on October 13, 1992.”
Councilwoman and six-year member of the Madison Planning Board Astri Baillie added, “In addition to requiring the creation of a Master Plan, the Land Use Statute also mandates that the Master Plan be thoroughly reviewed by the municipality’s Planning Board every six years and that a Reexamination Report be issued and adopted by the Board. Madison’s Planning Board completed Reexamination Reports in 1999, 2004 and 2011. The Madison Planning Board also adopted a Master Plan amendment for zoning changes to the Giralda Farms office complex in 2014.
In each of the periodic Reexamination Reports, the Board reviewed the goals and objectives of the 1992 Master Plan, identified new issues and highlighted points which had either been completed or were in need of adjustment.
For example, the 1999 Reexamination Report stated that all goals and objectives detailed in the 1992 Master Plan remained valid; however, it specifically identified some challenges, including the preservation of open space and historically valuable properties; the control of vehicular traffic in residential neighborhoods; the maintenance of a diverse housing stock; and the maintenance of attractive thriving commercial and professional districts. The 1999 report further identified new issues that could affect land use decisions in Madison, including compatibility with the State Development and Redevelopment Plan; housing obligations mandated by the Council on Affordable Housing; the siting of telecommunications facilities; state laws regarding group homes and sexually oriented businesses; and conformance to the state’s Residential Site Improvement Standards (RSIS).
The candidates observed that “in the 26 years since the current Master Plan was adopted in 1992, an enormous amount of building has occurred on our borders that has dramatically affected traffic circulation in the area. Open space and available recreation facilities in Madison are certainly very different today than they were in 1992. The sections in the 1992 Master Plan that deal with these issues are consequently outdated and need major analysis and revisions.”
“As a comprehensive Master Plan is the foundation for development decisions, regulations, and policies, it must clearly reflect the community’s values and preferences and its desired future,” noted Debra Coen. “Therefore, the planning process must be based on public engagement. The borough must seek direct input from the Madison community through public workshops, online and in-person surveys, and discussion roundtables. Stakeholders representing diverse community interests must be involved from the onset. Public input is vital to the development of a community vision, the establishment of goals and objectives, and the review a draft plan prior to adoption by the Borough Council.
A sustainable Master Plan is one that is community-driven, and Madison’s planning effort must engage the community throughout the process to ensure that it reflects the needs and values of our community. It is time to begin the process.”