Morristown Moving Forward Seeks Public Input Into Master Plan Process

Public presentation was held Wednesday at Hyatt Morristown.

Morristown government is moving forward. And, it hopes the public comes along for the ride.

The town kicked off its "Morristown Moving Forward" initiative Wednesday night with a public presentation at the Hyatt Morristown. There, professionals offered insight into the once-a-decade Master Plan process and opportunity for members of the public to have input into the process.

Daniel Hernandez, a professional planner with Jonathan Rose Companies, outlined for those in attendance the purpose of a Master Plan, which by New Jersey law must be updated every 10 years. The last Master Plan for Morristown was completed in 2003, with the next expected to be ready by June.

"When a Master Plan process is going on and on and on, people lose interest," he said. "We want to make sure there is an ongoing dialogue."

To that end, Wednesday's presentation is the first of several anticipated public meetings leading up to June. A website for the Master Plan process, www.morristownmovingforward.com, has been created, as well.

"This initiative will focus on issues of land use, transportation and the design of neighborhoods--setting the framework for the town's evolution over the next 20 years," according to a press release. Specific goals for the latest Master Plan include: creating a high quality of life; complete neighborhoods; economically strong and resilient corridors; building on local assets; great public spaces and natural environments; walkability and biking; and efficial local and regional circulation.

All of this sounds great in theory. But, will any of it be bourne in practice?

Councilman Stefan Armington is optimistic. He noted that public input also was encouraged for the 2003 Master Plan but, "what's essential is implementation," he said. "There was not much, in my opinion."

Still, this present administration and planning division appears on the right track, starting with Wednesday night's meeting, Armington said.

Margret Brady also has high hopes for the 2013 Master Plan. A member of both the Town Council as well as the Planning Board during the late 1970s and early 1980s, Brady praised the open process happening in Morristown today.

"Most people don't realize how important planning is, but it affects us all," she said. "When people are impacted by it, it's often too late."

Throughout the conference room, tables were set up with various pieces of information, including information about the Sustainable Jersey program and a map of the town, where organizers encouraged participants to place a sticker where they live. "We want to get an idea of who is participating and identify where we need to work on," said Erik Deline of VHB engineering.

Maria Norton, director of the Morristown and Morris Township Library, praised the meeting, calling it fun and informative.

"It's a chance to meet people," said the Morristown native currently living in Chester. "You get to meet everyone, and they can have a voice."

Pablo Garita, who has lived in town for over three years, said he was happy he may have an impact on how the town is shaped over the next decade.

"It's great to be able to have input," he said. "This is about bringing people together that want to be involved."

Of course, as Armington said, similar public input has been gathered before, not necessarily for positive results.

Zoning Board member Linda Carrington noted she now has been through four Master Plan information gathering and implementation processes, starting in 1983.

"I'm still optimistic," she said.

For more information about Morristown Moving Forward, visit the website.


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