An open letter to Hoboken residents and business owners:
On March 10th the Hoboken Planning Board acted by adopting the Reexamination Report to the City's Master Plan, and did so only 2 days after its earlier meeting when it publicly released the report. The members of the Hoboken Chamber of Commerce's Board of Directors and its Economic Development Committee, comprised of over 25 business owners and chief executives of companies located in Hoboken from 10 to 25+ years, are concerned by a lack of public participation, and a possible rush to judgment, on a document as gravely important as the Master Plan especially since from a business perspective this action may terminate the City’s economic growth. Therefore, we request that the Planning Board reverse its formal action related to the Master Plan, until the City's elected officials, community groups and residents participate in public meetings to ensure that the City's planning is following an inclusive, deliberate and open process.
Master Plans play a pivotal role in a city's direction, serving as road map for its future. From the Chamber of Commerce's standpoint, the business community relies heavily on the document. Local retailers, professionals, restaurateurs and institutions, all make short and long term decisions based on their understanding of the City's published plans. Once in place, the Master Plan becomes the backbone for formulating zoning ordinances. State law mandates a periodic reexamination every six years to assess ongoing viability and make suggestions reflecting current conditions.
Over several decades, Hoboken confronted numerous important public issues such as the 2004 Master Plan iteration and mapping the light rails' course. One thing remained constant; full communal involvement. Town hall meetings were scheduled, attendance encouraged and the entire community weighed in. All constituencies were heard from, yielding the best possible alternative. The present reexamination report alludes to the "great deal of public input" on the 2004 Master Plan, and recommending "significant input by the residents" before implementing its suggested changes. Encouraging yes, but vigilance is still required.
The 2004 Master Plan had recommended the transformation of Industrial zoned sites to a Transitional zone which would involve mixed-use development. The Reexamination -- "based on interviews with both elected and appointed City officials" and nothing more -- withdrew this recommendation for a different one, and thereby left the industrial designation still unchanged, affectting several dozen substantial properties throughout Hoboken.
From a socioeconomic standpoint, the changes in the Reexamination Report from the fundamental principles in the Master Plan may be viewed that Hoboken’s evolution is complete. The Chamber of Commerce believes that Hoboken has successfully evolved from an industrial city and is en route to being a truly self sustaining city, capable of employing, entertaining, feeding and stimulating a majority of its residents without the requirement to go elsewhere. Yet there is still work to be done, and this runs counter to any conclusion all is complete. Any plan that advances, either intentionally or unintentionally, a negative impact to Hoboken’s growth is ill conceived and not in the best interests of the City’s businesses and residents. We believe this sentiment is shared by all and the Chamber looks forward to an invigorated collaborative process on this important matter.
Hoboken Chamber of Commerce
Board of Directors & Economic Development Committee