New Construction in South Orange

Steve said:

Rather than guess, I'm sure the numbers are available somewhere.  It would also be good to look at the pro-forma numbers that I'm sure were submitted as part of the proposal.

 More people = more cars = more traffic.  I guarantee it.  Try requesting (and RECEIVING!) any traffic studies done for the Blockbuster  or Village Hall sites.  As a commissioner of SO for nearly 3 years, I was never able to get my hands on EVEN ONE.  ("Taken care of", I was told every time.)

Remember what a nightmare Third & Sloan Sts were when 3rd & Valley opened? until they put in a turning lane -- after the fact?  Turning onto S. R'wood from 3rd can take up a good part of your trip with no light there.  Still a challenge turning on to Valley, even with a light.  And now 40 more units on that block alone?  Oy.


Juniemoon - Are you living in South Orange now?


Juniemoon said:

 More people = more cars = more traffic.  I guarantee it.  Try requesting (and RECEIVING!) any traffic studies done for the Blockbuster  or Village Hall sites.  As a commissioner of SO for nearly 3 years, I was never able to get my hands on EVEN ONE.  ("Taken care of", I was told every time.)

Remember what a nightmare Third & Sloan Sts were when 3rd & Valley opened? until they put in a turning lane -- after the fact?  Turning onto S. R'wood from 3rd can take up a good part of your trip with no light there.  Still a challenge turning on to Valley, even with a light.  And now 40 more units on that block alone?  Oy.

It has already been demonstrated that there are no more people in South Orange now than there were 50 years ago.

And yes, we all understand that people drive at hours other than rush hour. Where we seem to disagree is that there is much less traffic at other-than-rush hour than during rush hour, and that the streets can accommodate the few extra cars of those who aren’t working in the city at other-than rush hour.

I agree that turning from Third to Ridgewood has more traffic than it used to, going home in the evening. That is going *away* from the apartments, not toward them.


South Orange has the 12th highest taxes in the state. 

12. South Orange

South Orange Village, Essex County saw an average property tax bill of $18,657, which was $303 higher than the average bill in 2018.

https://www.nj.com/politics/2020/03/here-are-the-30-nj-towns-with-the-highest-property-taxes.html

"Collum said that the $1.3M land acquisition had helped the Village to “plug its deficit” this year as the township say a loss of $1.8M in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Most importantly these redevelopment projects are going to fund our capital projects” including the Baird Center and the library renovations, while enabling the Village to keep tax increases low."


cramer said:

"Collum has long held that the key to overcoming segregation and providing affordable housing in South Orange township and other New Jersey suburbs is to promote multi-family housing developments that include affordable housing units or contribute to an affordable housing fund.

In spring 2019, in response to a SOMA Action candidate questionnaire, Collum wrote the following response regarding a question about South Orange’s affordable housing obligation:

Over the past two years, I have worked to redo our entire affordable housing compliance agreement undoing years of unrealistic zoning that would have never actually constructed affordable units. What has occurred in South Orange is a disgrace and has contributed to the segregation that exists throughout New Jersey. I have introduced ordinances that will require 1 in every 5 units developed to be for moderate and lower-income families. I also quadrupled payments for developers to construct units ‘off-site’ with a required 10% on-site in any new development. I am also proud to share that South Orange has not used a Vacant Land Adjustment in negotiating its fair share obligation. We were given a number and accepted it. I have laid out a path for this governing body and future governing bodies to actually hit numbers. This is an area during my term I am most proud of. Affordable housing advocates throughout the state frequently request my presence on panels and speaking engagement to take about our collective responsibilities as towns – particularly affluent towns – to make New Jersey more equitable. Housing is where it all starts. It will dictate access to transportation, quality government services, job opportunities, education, etc. Housing segregation and exclusionary zoning has created an absolute mess in this state and I will continue doing my role at the local, county, state and national levels as an advocate for affordable housing.”

https://villagegreennj.com/towns/south-orange/collum-south-orange-to-build-affordable-housing-despite-trump-move/

 When 3rd & Valley began renting, I applied for one of the "affordable" units.  (Yes, I'd lived comfortably in M'wood for 20 years then and had moved to SO, but due to life's curveballs, I qualify ... then & now)

I believe there are @ 412 units there.  20% = @ 80.  Veterans get first dibs.  Think we were down to @ 20 available in the public lottery.  1890 people applied.  I got #1888.  I'm not familiar with "offsite" options.  Don't think they were offered (or not available) at that time. (@2012-13?)  Would be interesting to know where or if these units exist in SO.


Juniemoon said:

 When 3rd & Valley began renting, I applied for one of the "affordable" units.  (Yes, I'd lived comfortably in M'wood for 20 years then and had moved to SO, but due to life's curveballs, I qualify ... then & now)

I believe there are @ 412 units there.  20% = @ 80.  Veterans get first dibs.  Think we were down to @ 20 available in the public lottery.  1890 people applied.  I got #1888.  I'm not familiar with "offsite" options.  Don't think they were offered (or not available) at that time. (@2012-13?)  Would be interesting to know where or if these units exist in SO.

Seems you recognize the demand for affordable housing. Rightfully so.

I wish our Village President, Sheena Collum, would weigh in here. She is thoughtful, pragmatic, and an expert in these matters. Truly the “real deal.”

I think you and any other doubters who aren’t just NIMBYs would come away very impressed.


Juniemoon said:

Steve said:

Rather than guess, I'm sure the numbers are available somewhere.  It would also be good to look at the pro-forma numbers that I'm sure were submitted as part of the proposal.

 More people = more cars = more traffic.  I guarantee it.  Try requesting (and RECEIVING!) any traffic studies done for the Blockbuster  or Village Hall sites.  As a commissioner of SO for nearly 3 years, I was never able to get my hands on EVEN ONE.  ("Taken care of", I was told every time.)

Remember what a nightmare Third & Sloan Sts were when 3rd & Valley opened? until they put in a turning lane -- after the fact?  Turning onto S. R'wood from 3rd can take up a good part of your trip with no light there.  Still a challenge turning on to Valley, even with a light.  And now 40 more units on that block alone?  Oy.

 And this is relevant to my comment how?


cramer said:

Juniemoon - Are you living in South Orange now?

 No.  My apt there was to be renovated, & I had to move 4 years ago.  Have a dog & could find no apts I could afford that allowed pets.  I had to "downscale" to East Orange (NOT Harrison Pk Tower).  But OLS is still my church, & SOMA will always be "home".  I'm there nearly every day.  I've never felt unsafe in EO, but it will never mean what SOMA means to me.

I have seen the impact that over-development had on my hometown in CT, and that makes me very sensitive to what I see happening here.


jimmurphy said:

Juniemoon said:

 When 3rd & Valley began renting, I applied for one of the "affordable" units.  (Yes, I'd lived comfortably in M'wood for 20 years then and had moved to SO, but due to life's curveballs, I qualify ... then & now)

I believe there are @ 412 units there.  20% = @ 80.  Veterans get first dibs.  Think we were down to @ 20 available in the public lottery.  1890 people applied.  I got #1888.  I'm not familiar with "offsite" options.  Don't think they were offered (or not available) at that time. (@2012-13?)  Would be interesting to know where or if these units exist in SO.

Seems you recognize the demand for affordable housing. Rightfully so.

I wish our Village President, Sheena Collum, would weigh in here. She is thoughtful, pragmatic, and an expert in these matters. Truly the “real deal.”

I think you and any other doubters who aren’t just NIMBYs would come away very impressed.

Affordable housing is probably Sheena's no. 1 priority. 

Juniemoon - there are other affordable housing units that are going to be available. Here's a link to the settlement that South Orange reached on affordable housing. 

https://villagegreennj.com/towns/government/south-orange-planning-board-rules-favorably-on-fair-share-affordable-housing-settlement/


jimmurphy - I emailed Sheena suggesting that she post in this thread and she said she is putting in 20 hour days for the Village (I can believe it - I don't know how she does it) and had 10 Zoom calls today already and was getting ready for another one. I'm sure she would love to post because she is really passionate about affordable housing.  


jimmurphy said:

Seems you recognize the demand for affordable housing. Rightfully so.

I wish our Village President, Sheena Collum, would weigh in here. She is thoughtful, pragmatic, and an expert in these matters. Truly the “real deal.”

I think you and any other doubters who aren’t just NIMBYs would come away very impressed.

 I have known Sheena well for a long time and I think the world of her.  I think as a politician she serves many masters, and that things like capital investment, deficit reduction, etc can sometimes get in the way of and are easier to solve than quality of life, historic preservation, community character, etc.

I no longer live in SO, so this is not a NIMBY issue, though I'm close enough, still have close ties, and a piece of my heart will always remain there.  We chose to raise children in Maplewood.  I, (and THEYtill) are tremendously grateful to have had that opportunity.  

I'm deeply affected by what I saw happen to my hometown as a result of over-development, and how much similarity I see in what's happening here.  A town with an irreplaceable character was bull-dozed, re-occupied by a new type of citizenry and wiped away forever.

I know change is inevitable, but people can become drunk with it, and important things can get lost that can't be gotten back.  Unpopular opinions -- like wanting to know there are still places as special and unique as SOMA to give your kids and grandkids to grow up in and call home -- need to have champions to help their voices be heard, too.

Change may be inevitable, but it requires thoughtfulness and hard choices to do it well.


Steve said:

 And this is relevant to my comment how?

 You said it should be easy to find "real numbers" on a variety of statistical things being discussed.  I have found this NOT to be the case when dealing with SO govt.  I'm also aware, having worked in Marketing & Advertising for 30 years, that "there are 3 kinds of lies:  lies, damned lies, and statistics."  ( often attributed to Mark Twain, Benjamin Disraeli & others.)  Developers are motivated to make deals and promises. I've not done peer-reviewed research on this, but what gets lost between public proposals and final product can be a lot....


Juniemoon said:

 You said it should be easy to find "real numbers" on a variety of statistical things being discussed.  I have found this NOT to be the case when dealing with SO govt.  I'm also aware, having worked in Marketing & Advertising for 30 years, that "there are 3 kinds of lies:  lies, damned lies, and statistics."  ( often attributed to Mark Twain, Benjamin Disraeli & others.)  Developers are motivated to make deals and promises. I've not done peer-reviewed research on this, but what gets lost between public proposals and final product can be a lot....

I was engaged in a specific conversation with someone concerning tax revenue.  It was not a general statement at all.


Juniemoon said:

A town with an irreplaceable character was bull-dozed, re-occupied by a new type of citizenry and wiped away forever. (emphasis added)

That's a hell of comment.  


Juniemoon said:

 I have known Sheena well for a long time and I think the world of her.  I think as a politician she serves many masters, and that things like capital investment, deficit reduction, etc can sometimes get in the way of and are easier to solve than quality of life, historic preservation, community character, etc.

I no longer live in SO, so this is not a NIMBY issue, though I'm close enough, still have close ties, and a piece of my heart will always remain there.  We chose to raise children in Maplewood.  I, (and THEYtill) are tremendously grateful to have had that opportunity.  

I'm deeply affected by what I saw happen to my hometown as a result of over-development, and how much similarity I see in what's happening here.  A town with an irreplaceable character was bull-dozed, re-occupied by a new type of citizenry and wiped away forever.

I know change is inevitable, but people can become drunk with it, and important things can get lost that can't be gotten back.  Unpopular opinions -- like wanting to know there are still places as special and unique as SOMA to give your kids and grandkids to grow up in and call home -- need to have champions to help their voices heard, too.

Change may be inevitable, but it requires thoughtfulness and hard choices to do it well.

I tried to make clear that I don’t think you’re a NIMBY and I do really understand that you care about our communities, both South Orange and Maplewood. I will too after we leave, if we do. 

I like your last paragraph the most and couldn’t agree more. It’s all a balance, a delicate one.

Our government in SO in the last 10 years or so has balanced preservation and pragmatism in the examples of the Village Hall revisioning, the renovations at the Baird and the library, taking commercial space for village offices, attempts to share services - all good examples of thoughtful government.

Back to the traffic issue, I think I’ve made clear that I agree  with you that it isn’t as good as it used to be. Rush hours and the Noon hour are no fun. I just don’t blame it on the apartments near the village. I don’t know how to solve the through-traffic issue, which I think is to blame.

It hasn’t gotten any play here, but there are South Orange Master Plan meetings coming up next week. Good opportunity to weigh in!



I think the prevalence of GPS has a lot more people driving on local roads than+/- 5 years ago.  


Red_Barchetta said:

I think the prevalence of GPS has a lot more people driving on local roads than+/- 5 years ago.  

 Yeah, likely so. I know I follow Waze from 78 to avoid the intersection of Vauxhall and Springfield. Puts me on a residential street - Stiles? 


cramer said:

The population of South Orange in 1970 was 16, 971. 

The population of South Orange in 2020 was 16,713  - down 258. 

Yet everybody complains that all of the traffic is because of the developments.

eta - A much larger percentage of the population commutes to New York because of the Midtown Direct. Some of the increased traffic during rush hour is no doubt because of commuters - both from South Orange as well as neighboring communities. But these commuters driving to the train station are from single famiky homes, and not develoments within walkng distance of the station. 

 Two car families were not the norm in 1970.  In fact, in 1970 two working parents was not the norm either.  People also used to walk more to do daily errands.   The population might have been the same, but the number of cars on the road definitely was not.  

Today it is common to see two, even three cars in driveways.   Though I wasn’t yet born in 1970, but I can say that in the late 70’s going to friends houses or pee-wee league practice kids walked.  Today if you let your kid 7 year old kid walk alone to their friend’s house for a play date or to the playground someone would call the cops on you, so we now drive our kids everywhere.


spontaneous said:

cramer said:

The population of South Orange in 1970 was 16, 971. 

The population of South Orange in 2020 was 16,713  - down 258. 

Yet everybody complains that all of the traffic is because of the developments.

eta - A much larger percentage of the population commutes to New York because of the Midtown Direct. Some of the increased traffic during rush hour is no doubt because of commuters - both from South Orange as well as neighboring communities. But these commuters driving to the train station are from single famiky homes, and not develoments within walkng distance of the station. 

 Two car families were not the norm in 1970.  In fact, in 1970 two working parents was not the norm either.  People also used to walk more to do daily errands.   The population might have been the same, but the number of cars on the road definitely was not.  

Today it is common to see two, even three cars in driveways.   Though I wasn’t yet born in 1970, but I can say that in the late 70’s going to friends houses or pee-wee league practice kids walked.  Today if you let your kid 7 year old kid walk alone to their friend’s house for a play date or to the playground someone would call the cops on you, so we now drive our kids everywhere.

 good points all.


spontaneous said:

 Two car families were not the norm in 1970.  In fact, in 1970 two working parents was not the norm either.  People also used to walk more to do daily errands.   The population might have been the same, but the number of cars on the road definitely was not.  

Today it is common to see two, even three cars in driveways.   Though I wasn’t yet born in 1970, but I can say that in the late 70’s going to friends houses or pee-wee league practice kids walked.  Today if you let your kid 7 year old kid walk alone to their friend’s house for a play date or to the playground someone would call the cops on you, so we now drive our kids everywhere.

You’re right.

Short of taking properties to widen main arterial streets or elevating them for through traffic, what do you propose? The alternative is sprawl, out to where you’ve relocated to if I’m remembering right.

Seems the master plan is banking on ride sharing, Uber, jitneys, walking, etc. 

I still think the big problems are at peak times, which should be the focus.



Part of the issue is that public transportation options outside of major metropolitan areas options are sparse.

A number of years back while living in Maplewood I worked in Hackensack.  Since I was in easy walking distance to the supermarket and pharmacy I briefly considered getting rid of my car.  Then I found out what was a 45 minute morning commute would be two and a half hours with a couple of transfers.  Obviously I kept the car.

Also while living in Maplewood my husband got a job in Newark less than 4 miles away.  Because of how close it is a the number of public transportation options he looked into it.  I don’t know about now, but at that time there was nothing available that could get him to work in time for his 6:45 am start time.

When I did have local jobs I walked.  And believe me, co-workers mentioned how odd  it was that I walked, or that I was some sort of health nut, or just a nut in general.

Of the cars that were on the road in the 70’s, I can tell you they didn’t see the daily mileage that today’s cars do.  We used to have a butcher shop and a pharmacy at the intersection of Irvington Ave and Ward Pl, kept in business back then because people walked to neighborhood stores.


cramer said:

jimmurphy - I emailed Sheena suggesting that she post in this thread and she said she is putting in 20 hour days for the Village (I can believe it - I don't know how she does it) and had 10 Zoom calls today already and was getting ready for another one. I'm sure she would love to post because she is really passionate about affordable housing.  

 Sheena has posted numerous long, excellent essays on MOL and Facebook concerning issues like development financing, PILOTs, evaluating projects, and apartment/school burden. I wish she had maintained them in a blog and could just post links because these same questions come up all the time and there are so many hours in the day to keep answering them. 


cramer said:

The population of South Orange in 1970 was 16, 971. 

The population of South Orange in 2020 was 16,713  - down 258. 

 Cramer:  Would you mind sharing your source for the numbers quoted here.  The ink can hardly be dry on the 2020 number,  But you probably know better sources than I.  Tnx.


Juniemoon said:

cramer said:

The population of South Orange in 1970 was 16, 971. 

The population of South Orange in 2020 was 16,713  - down 258. 

 Cramer:  Would you mind sharing your source for the numbers quoted here.  The ink can hardly be dry on the 2020 number,  But you probably know better sources than I.  Tnx.

This doesn't have a date, but you're probably right: 

 https://www.neighborhoodscout.com/nj/south-orange/demographics

This is a U.S. census estimate as of July, 2019  - population 16,691. 

https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/southorangevillagetownshipessexcountynewjersey/SBO050212


The population size in 1970  is similar to that of 2020 because the family size has changed. We have lots of 1 bedroom condos and apartments,something not there in 1970. Also today's families are much smaller. This creates more cars.


jimmurphy said:

Red_Barchetta said:

I think the prevalence of GPS has a lot more people driving on local roads than+/- 5 years ago.  

 Yeah, likely so. I know I follow Waze from 78 to avoid the intersection of Vauxhall and Springfield. Puts me on a residential street - Stiles? 

 The "Waze effect" is mentioned on p.8 of the Master Plan - Mobility Element. 

https://somasterplan.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/WEB-SOV_Mock_Draft_V13B_MOBILITY.pdf

"Traffic Patterns + Behavior" is on p.10 of the Master Plan - Mobility Element and "Travel Time + Congestion" is on p.11. 


galileo said:

The population size in 1970  is similar to that of 2020 because the family size has changed. We have lots of 1 bedroom condos and apartments,something not there in 1970. Also today's families are much smaller. This creates more cars.

 But I'm sure there are many MORE of those 1 BRs ... Gaslight, Avenue, Gateway, Third & Valley (at least 400 right there) -- than in 1970 ... Are many of them empty?  Houses are under contract before the "for sale" signs are up. With Blockbuster site coming, plus 4th & Valley, 3rd St & more on the way -- and lots of new smaller apartments here already, I wonder why population is shrinking so comsistently?

It just strikes me as odd.  Where are folks going?  Is it driven by smaller families?  Then why such a need for pre-school & child care spaces?

Curious.

Curious, too, why you think smaller families mean more cars.  Is that what you meant to say??  Just askin'.


There are three Master Plan Workshops this week - the first is this evening at 7:00 pm  You can access the Zoom link at  SOMasterplan.com.  

 http://southorange.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=2019


Small families do not need  a house. Many can reside in apartments. An average 3 bedroom house probably has 2 cars. One apartment may have 2 cars.I think this is why there are more cars on the road now even though the population is similar.


galileo said:

Small families do not need  a house. Many can reside in apartments. An average 3 bedroom house probably has 2 cars. One apartment may have 2 cars.I think this is why there are more cars on the road now even though the population is similar.

CORRECT!!!  Ding, ding,  ding!
  
When they were building 3rd & Valley, everyone I asked assured me "the traffic study had been done, was fine and I didn't need to see it -- and, people who live in apartments and commute by train would not need cars (or would only have one car)"   After the fact, they had to add the turning lane on 3rd St that someone must have overlooked..

Does that lot serve both residents and the public? I believe that was the plan but not sure if it remained so.

Wasn't there a rumor for a while that they were going to have to do major construction (or tear down) the building because there weren't enough parking spaces?  I only have vague memories.  Maybe one of you remembers better than me.  

It still gnaws at me that, with population staying the same or declining for so many years, we still need all this additional housing.  Is it a "If we build it, they will come" situation?  Would love to know more about who's leaving and why.



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