Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Rezoning Main St.

As reported in the local press, the new owners of 226 Main St. in Matawan want to convert the stately home into office space. Residents are understandably upset. Among the homes in Matawan, this one is truly one of the more magnificent ones. Set back over fifty feet from the street behind an impressive wrought iron fence, the Victorian house is four floors high with a blue exterior reminiscent of mansions in the old south. I, too, want to see the exterior of the house preserved, but I believe the Planning Board should rezone all of Main St. as commercial or mixed use.

226 Main St. was sold to Sonia Santos in 2004 for $555,000. Whatever plans Santos had for the house, never happened. Two years later, the banks foreclosed on the house. Six months after the foreclosure, the house was sold at auction for $450,000. By the time the new owners acquired the property, the house had already noticeably deteriorated from years of neglect.

The new owners were well aware of the home’s condition as well as the fact that they would need the town’s permission to rezone the property. They knew the risks and are not entitled to any special consideration.

As the Planning Board reviews the application to re-zone and modify the house, it's only proper consideration is to determine what's in the town's best interest.

Considering all the amenities Aberdeen and Matawan have to offer (proximity to the shore and the highway, easy commute to Manhattan, modern homes on spacious lots, etc.) the one major drawback is the shopping.

Yes, we have access to all the big box stores on Rt. 35 and Rt. 9 but we don’t have any of the local stores, boutiques, and restaurants that give a town its character. Our restaurants are mostly fast food and diners. Our stores are primarily discount shops.

Our town can’t support higher end shops and restaurants because we don’t have a single street with pedestrian traffic. Not one. Until we develop a street that can attract pedestrian traffic, we will never have the higher end stores and restaurants that are vital to our community’s growth. The only street that could ever generate pedestrian traffic is Main St.

I don’t recommend evicting people from their homes. Rather, I would request the Planning Board to develop a master plan to cover the following areas:

  1. Pre-determine which properties along Main St. have historical or cultural values
  2. Rezone all other properties along Main St. to allow their owners to use them for residential or commercial use
  3. Provide tax incentives for developers to create commercial buildings
  4. Create requirements for developers that all new development must be in accordance with the town’s character and provide necessary parking
  5. Expand Clark St. to allow for a left turn lane onto Lloyd Rd.
  6. Have Monmouth County install signage by GSP Exits 117 and 117A directing traffic to Main St.

Property values along Main St. will jump higher as developers take advantage of the tax incentives. Naturally, many residents will choose to stay in their residences but others will use their newfound equity and move to larger and more modern homes in other parts of town.

Our town needs a real Main St. where people can walk, shop, and eat. Until then, our community’s development will stagnate. >>> Read more!


Joshua Vincent said...

Land Value Tax is getting some attention in new Jersey. The Regional Plan Association has done some preliminary study on it:

We tried in 1999-2001 to get land tax available in NJ, but NAIOP and the Stern Family killed it; the effort was led by Red Bank's Mike Arnone.

Aberdeener said...

(This comment should be posted under Change Property Tax. I apologize for the confusion.)
Thank you, Joshua. I had no idea that Land Value Taxation (also known as Split Rate Taxation) had already been successfully implemented by Pennsylvanian municipalities or that it was proposed by New Jersey Assemblyman Arnone in 1998. Unfortunately, Assemblyman Arnone is correct that such a plan will require a state constitutional amendment. For more information on this concept, I would strongly encourage people to contact Joshua through his blog at
Thx again for the info.

Anonymous said...

Dear Rezoning Main Street, the only way to make more people walk downtown is to provide parking, reduce the speed limit and protect the pedestrians with the Yeild signs... that work so well in other towns. The small stores will come if the customers can get to them. Convenience sells. Years ago when downtown was thriving there were ample places to park and if you did park on Main Street you didn't worry about being run down by a speeding car...
Oh and the comment about moving the Main Street owners to more modern homes is an assumption that they don't like the old ones.. What kind of molding do you have in your modern house that says dental work and orignal maple floors that have timeless beautiful colors and high ceilings that you can move furniture and not worry about the ceiling...banisters and fireplaces. Architecture shouldn't be something you visit on the weekend. I could go on and on, but then you have no idea what an old house is about... or the old family feeling of living in one. What town has thrived with this new change of removing people from Main St and turning it into a commercial outdoor mall? The big stores are not coming to Main Street and if they do they will not be courting your business because there will be too much traffic and you will move to Middletown or Holdmel with the new owners of 226 Main Street!!
signed, just some fool who lives on Main Street because my kids like to walk to Karate.