Opinion: Orange Should Have Building Design Standards

Highland Park. Credit: Peek Properties

At the Orange City Council Meeting on May 3, 2022, a council member sought to correct statements I had made as a candidate for city council, in a wholly improper use of the council’s time.

I have been speaking out about the need for building design standards, not “building standards” as was stated by the council person. On November 30, 2020, at the Orange Planning Board hearing concerning Highland Park, the 138-unit development at Highland Avenue and Lincoln Avenue, the developer said in response to my design suggestion that he could “build whatever he liked, as our town doesn’t have building design standards.”

As a building design and construction professional and professor of construction management, I have spoken into the public record about the need to craft “building design standards,” so as to avoid bad designs being constructed in the city. So that we can cultivate and maintain a desired look. So that new additions fit well in the context of our town.

This has nothing to do with zoning standards, building standards, or any other prescriptions that currently exist in our township. The purpose of building design standards is to improve the quality, compatibility, and performance of designs found in a given city. This is a requirement set forth by the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law. The implementation of building design standards ensures that the goals and values of the community are reflected in each commercial, professional, and public facility.

James Ward III, Orange Resident