Officials Look To Improve Area Around Long Branch Train Station

Council expected to pass ordinance rezoning area as a Transit Village

The area around the Long Branch train station on Third Avenue appears to be the next area city officials are looking to improve.

Plans to rezone the area as a Transit Village were discussed by the Long Branch Council on Tuesday night.

A Transit Village is a mix of residential and retail units planned around a train station which strives to make it more convenient for people to get to and from work or run errands by utilizing public transportation.

Other New Jersey towns such as Belmar, Matawan and Metuchen have already made Transit Village designations.

The area around the train station is currently a mix of residential (R) and commercial (C) zones. If the council were to adopt a rezoning ordinance, the area would then become one zone that containes allows a mixture of both.

"Certainly, Long Branch is, by far, a Transit Village waiting to happen," Planning Consultant Dave Roberts said during the meeting.

The areas that are a quarter-mile radius to the east and west from the train station out would be designated as a Transit Village

The area immediately surrounding the train station would encourage higher density residential development, Roberts said. He said many of the areas around the train station currently only allow single-family developments, but that would change under a Transit Village designation.

Roberts said the city would also be eligible to receive funds from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to improve the area if it is designated as a Transit Village.

"Once the ordinance is adopted, or even introduced, we think we're in the position to submit that application to DOT," Roberts said.

The DOT established the Transit Village Initiative in 1999 and it allows towns which have created one to get assistance and apply for grants for projects associated with improving the area.

"We have a project in mind for what could be done with that money and that is the critical (pedestrian) connection of the west side and the entrance of the train station," Robert said. "We've heard from NJ Transit that they are willing o to work with us but are not willing to commit the funds (for this project)."

"It automatically makes the properties on the west side of the tracks more attractive to developers because they could market that as a pedestrian-accessible to their tenants," Roberts said.

Roberts said there is currently a wall separating Morris Avenue from crossing the train tracks and that the plan would be to "penetrate" it and create pedestrian access.

Long Branch Assistant Planning Director Carl Turner said that could be accomplished by building a walkway at, above or below the street level.

Turner said the potential improvements for the area would be beneficial for the city.

"We are the gateway to the Jersey Shore, and we are the first railroad station outside of New York City within walking distance to the ocean," Turner said. "NJ Transit sees that and sees the potential there...and several property owners are interested in improving the area and enhance the business."

The council is expected to consider the introduction of the transit village zoning ordinance at its next meeting. If the ordinance is introduced and adopted, it will be sent to the DOT for review along with a resolution.

Swift Loris April 10, 2013 at 04:03 PM
I'm puzzled by this paragraph: "The area around the train station is currently a mix of residential (R) and commercial (C) zones. If the council were to adopt a rezoning ordinance, the area would then become a mixture of both." What's the difference between "a mix" of R and C zones, and "a mixture" of R and C zones?
Christopher Sheldon (Editor) April 10, 2013 at 08:08 PM
Loris, I changed the wording to make it clearer. You were right, the way it was before made it sound like nothing was changing.
patty dametz April 10, 2013 at 09:02 PM
I hope that this plan is approved, because the area really needs improving. There are a lot of shady people that hang out in and around the train station.
Lori Ann April 11, 2013 at 04:51 PM
Property Owners MUST get involved before the City re-zones this area a "Transit Village"!! The tittle and the concept sound all nicey nice, but of course the City and the Planners never advertise that by rezoning an area a "Transit Village", they then can use Eminent Domain to obtain houses and property! I personally know all too well about Long Branch's past track record of Eminent Domain Abuse, so I would caution the Property Owners to get involved ASAP, get yourself educated, ad go to the City Council meetings and Planning Board meetings before they rezone the area and take your home to build what they feel are "better" living areas for someone else! That is not the proper use of Eminent Domain!
Rob Daina April 11, 2013 at 05:13 PM
Lor Ann, Youre right ..Eminent Domain abuse now becomes the issue as a result of this "rezoning".
Christopher Sheldon (Editor) April 11, 2013 at 05:16 PM
Lori Ann and Rob. The planner specifically said, when asked by council, that there would be no eminent domain used by the city in this rezoning. I'm pretty sure they've said they would never be utilizing that process again in any type of redevelopment for the city.
Lori Ann April 11, 2013 at 05:53 PM
Christopher: I unfortunately I was not at the meeting, which I have to start going back to but after going for 8 years I needed some time away LOL I was hoping that was the case and I should have checked that out before commenting. I am glad to hear that the City is keeping to their word on not using Eminent Domain in this rezoning and glad the Council brought that up. Thanks so much for posting this clarification.
Christopher Sheldon (Editor) April 11, 2013 at 05:58 PM
No problem at all Lori Ann. I didn't include that information in the story, but I should have. I'm sure I'll be writing a lot about this once the council votes on the ordinance.


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