Highland Park Planning Board Explores Downtown Redevelopment

In a recent Highland Park Planning Board meeting, members engaged in a detailed review of several downtown properties as part of an ongoing redevelopment project. The primary focus was on the potential expansion of track C, block 2202, with lots 1, 13, 19, 31, 37, 38, and 39 under consideration for inclusion in the redevelopment area. The meeting featured a comprehensive presentation of the history, context, and methodology of the project, followed by a examination of each property’s current state and eligibility for redevelopment status.

The meeting began with a board member seeking advice regarding a past connection with Garden Homes, a conditional redeveloper involved in the redevelopment. Upon concluding there was no conflict of interest, the meeting proceeded with a presentation by Chris, a board member. The presentation outlined the local redevelopment housing law’s statutory purpose and the planning and financial tools available for local government to promote physical and economic improvement. The board discussed multiple properties, detailing their conditions, compliance with zoning regulations, and potential for redevelopment.

A notable part of the meeting was the review of individual properties, starting with lot one on Bar Avenue. This property, described as non-conforming due to its lot area, depth, and use, sparked a debate among board members regarding its classification. The board also deliberated on the property on South Second Avenue, a conforming lot with a non-conforming use due to the single-family dwelling not being permitted in the CBD zone. The property’s exterior and interior conditions, along with the management by the Reformed Church of Highland Park, were also discussed.

In the discussion of Lot 37, it was found to be non-conforming with respect to lot area and lot width, and contained a non-conforming use with apartments on the ground floor. However, it was deemed appropriate for redevelopment due to recent renovations complying with permits. Lot 38 was deemed substandard and unsafe, posing potential hazards for pedestrians and motorists. The board also reviewed Lot 39, which was found non-conforming with regard to lot area and lot depth. Concerns were raised about the layout of the parking area, sight issues, and non-compliance with ADA standards.

The meeting also touched on the impact of the non-condemnation designation on property owners in the redevelopment area, particularly in terms of property value and potential restrictions on alterations. It was clarified that the designation does not force property owners to participate in the redevelopment process but may impact the perceived value of their property.

A particularly contentious part of the meeting was the discussion on the inclusion of Lot 19 in the plan. There was debate about whether to vote on the properties individually or as a group, with specific attention to separating Lot 19 for a separate vote due to its status as a private residential property. Concerns were raised about the potential negative impact on the value of the property if designated as part of the Redevelopment area. Despite reservations, the board voted to approve the inclusion of all properties, including Lot 19, in the redevelopment plan.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.


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