South Orange has been working on its first new Master Plan in 40 years!

Now, as new technologies, ideas, and viewpoints have reshaped the Village, the people of South Orange have resolved to craft a plan to set an agenda for their community to step boldly into the next ten years.

View the Master Plan In Progress


Reader's Guide

What is a Master Plan?

A Master Plan is an important component of land use law in the State of New Jersey that gives local governments the authority to make policies that advance their own unique interests. South Orange’s new Master Plan will guide future policies, such as changes to the zoning code. In addition, it outlines strategies for a wide array of issues in the Village such as environmental sustainability, the design of streets and sidewalks, architectural standards and creating public art.   South Orange has gone above and beyond to ensure this Plan truly reflects the communities’ values. In short, the document is a 10-year blueprint for South Orange and articulates both general policy goals as well as specific proposals to ensure the Village grows intentionally and will advance the ideals of residents and leaders.

What are the goals?

The Master Plan is bold and practical plan to enhance the existing character of commercial, and residential neighborhoods in the Village. The Master Plan process began with an invitation to residents to help shape their shared future. Residents enthusiastically answered the call, and provided clear goals for the use of South Orange’s land and resources.

Guided by broad community consensus, the plan’s overarching goals include:

  • Provide dignified housing for all residents
  • Create beautiful, functional places and spaces
  • Protect the natural environment
  • Develop more amenities for residents to enjoy
  • Preserve historic buildings and sites
  • Strengthen the Village’s uniquely progressive culture

How is the Plan organized?

The Master Plan consists of five separate elements, crafted and organized to serve as the Village’s strategic plan for the evolving landscape of the coming decade:


  1. Introduction
  2. Goals + Objectives
  3. Mobility
  4. Land Use + Community Form
  5. Historic Preservation
  6. Quality of Life


Each element of the Master Plan complements the others, providing an integrated, comprehensive blueprint for the community’s growth.


The South Orange Master Plan


The Introduction provides an overview of the Master Plan’s foundational principles and provides the reader with some baseline information on the Village as well as the planning process that went into the drafting of this Plan.

Read the Intro

The Mobility Element

The Mobility Element addresses the movement of people and goods to and through the Village. It takes a critical approach to mitigating the impact of problematic existing conditions such as high volumes of pass through traffic on various regional throughways, and conflicts between motor vehicle traffic and pedestrians. The Element suggests strategies to increase the use of mass transit, and to encourage bicycles and pedestrian mobility.

Specific proposals include:

  • Implement ways to slow down traffic along key corridors such as Irvington Avenue and Valley Street, and make them more walkable and safer
  • Expand the network of on and off-road facilities to make bicycle and pedestrian travel safer and more comfortable, creating viable alternatives to automobiles for circulating around the Village
  • Reorganize the area around the train station to better integrate all modes of travel and to create new amenities in a heavily utilized area
Read the Mobility Element

The Land Use + Community Form Element

The Land Use + Community Form Element includes recommendations to provide the range of uses that best fits the community’s needs while strengthening the beloved character of the Village. The element outlines specific strategies aimed at increasing the vibrancy of commercial areas, preservation of established neighborhood character, resolving long-standing shortcomings within the current zoning ordinance.

Specific proposals include:

  • Update zoning and designs standards for new development that embrace modern planning practices to guide the look, feel and function of new development in a way that best serves the Village’s aspirations
  • Streamline permitting and responsibly reduce red-tape to accelerate investment
  • Accommodate residents of all incomes, ages, abilities, and life stages by expanding permitted housing types (i.e. the “missing middle”)
Read the Land Use + Community Element

The Historic Preservation Element

The Historic Preservation Element promotes and encourages the preservation and enhancement of buildings, structures and areas of historic value that reflect the cultural, social, economic and architectural history of South Orange. The Element outlines strategies to prevent the loss of historically and architecturally significant properties and to foster an appreciation for local history.

Specific proposals include:

  • Create bulk and other incentives for properties that are Contributing properties in historic districts or that are designated as Local Landmarks
  • Take steps to create safe, aesthetically pleasing streetscapes more compatible with the historic course of development
  • Establish relationships among stakeholders and create strategies to promote local heritage.
Read the Historic Preservation Element

The Quality of Life Element

The Quality of Life Element recognizes the importance of preserving the Village’s natural and social resources for the next generation. The Element outlines steps to create and enhance open spaces, establish linkages between those open spaces and to provide the appropriate range of active and passive recreational amenities within them. The Element also seeks to preserve the Village’s critical environmental features such as the Rahway River, floodplains and wetlands, as well as resources with exceptional community value such as Kiernan’s Quarry and the Duck Pond. Finally, the Element puts forth recommendations to protect vulnerable populations and promote overall public health.

Specific proposals include:

  • Establish the Rahway River Greenway
  • Expand open spaces and recreational amenities in underserved portions of the Village, such as Carter Playground
  • Improve the Village’s stormwater management practices through the utilization of green infrastructure
Read the Quality of Life Element

Plan Implementation + Next Steps

Implementation of the recommendations contained in this document will occur over the next several years. Many of the recommendations require action by the Board of Trustees such as the adoption of amendments to Village ordinances and budgeting decisions, while others will rely upon land use boards, advisory committees and individuals to carry forward other recommended actions. The plan recommends an annual audit process in which the established priorities will be reviewed, and if appropriate, adjusted to reflect changing conditions.

The adoption of this Master Plan marks a major milestone in the Village’s growth and open a new chapter for South Orange to shape it’s shared future.

Learn More

South Orange Master Plan Presentations


Questions or Comments?

William Kurzenberger