Cranford Township Committee votes on 750 Walnut Ave.

CRANFORD, NJ — On Tuesday, Feb. 25, the Cranford Township Committee voted on a resolution requesting that the Planning Board determine whether 750 Walnut Ave. should be designated as a condemnation area in need of redevelopment.

Commissioners Jean-Albert Maisonneuve and Mary O’Connor voted to move the resolution. Mayor Patrick Giblin, Deputy Mayor Kathleen Miller Prunty, Massionneuve and O’Connor all voted in favor of the resolution. Commissioner Thomas H. Hannen Jr. was the sole dissenting voice.

It was the latest chapter in the ongoing fight over the property at 750 Walnut Ave., where Hartz Mountain Industries has wanted to build 905 luxury apartment units. In 2017, the company applied to have the property rezoned from “commercial” to “residential.” The proposal received significant backlash from members of the Cranford community, who voiced their opposition over the course of the 14 public meetings in which the rezoning application was reviewed.

In June, the Planning Board unanimously denied the application, concluding that Hartz Mountain had failed to show how rezoning the property would meaningfully or financially benefit the township.

In September, the Township Committee voted 5-0 to accept the Planning Board’s recommendation not to rezone the property.
Hartz responded by filing an 84-page lawsuit against Cranford in October. It sought to invalidate the Planning Board’s decision, which it called “arbitrary” and “capricious.”

On Feb. 13, Cranford was ordered to reenter discussions with Hartz Mountain, which must submit a new concept plan for 750 Walnut Ave. to the township. Hartz Mountain and Cranford must make a joint status report to the court by March 13.