Bloomfield Planning Board Approves Senior Citizens Residence

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On Tuesday evening, the Bloomfield Planning Board approved the final site plan for Heritage Village, an affordable housing residence for seniors 55 and over, to be located at 392 Franklin Street next to the Post Office, facing the Municipal Building.

Architect Michael Farewell testified that the 5-story building would be built in the shape of a V, with the building reaching the edge of the sidewalk, thus screening the surface parking behind the building. There will also be parking under the building, where there will be a back entrance.

The main entrance, facing Municipal Plaza, will include an open plaza and courtyard with a cluster of trees and seating to provide a social gathering place for residents. In addition to steps leading to the entrance, there will be a handicapped-accessible ramp.

HeritageVillage

The main entrance will lead to the lobby and an 1800-square-foot community room, as well as centrally located stairs, elevators, mailboxes and other amenities that will also serve as a point for socialization. On the second floor there will be a laundry room and a health and wellness room with exercise equipment.

There will be 82 apartments in the building, the majority of which will be 1-bedroom apartments. There will be 8 2-bedroom apartments on the corners of the building.

Farewell said that most necessary equipment for the apartments, which have their own locally controlled heating and cooling units, will be located out of sight on the roof of the building. There will be a dumpster and generator at grade, which will be screened.

The exterior of the building will be mainly brick and limestone, designed to blend in with the materials used in the existing Municipal and Post Office buildings.

Project Engineer Robert Russo of CME Associates testified regarding changes to the parking plan since the preliminary site plan application for the project was approved in 2011. He said that 12 parking spaces will be designated for compact cars only, as the width of the parking spots will only be 8-1/2 feet rather than the standard 9 feet. He also said that handicapped spaces will be moved to the center of the lot, adjoining an ADA compliant walkway leading to the back entrance to the building.

He also provided a lighting and landscaping plan, explaining there will be shrubs and trees planted throughout the parking lot, as well as foundation plantings and street trees. The lights in the lot will use LED lighting, and the parking area under the building will also be well lit.

In response to a letter from Anthony Marucci, the township’s engineering consultant, the applicant agreed to work with the township forester to determine what type of trees should be planted on the site and along the streets, to replace the curbing around the site, and make any other recommended changes.

The developer of the property, Community Investment Strategies, Inc., received Federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, resulting in approximately $12.7 million in equity for the project. The project also received $5 million in funding from the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Action Plan (CDBG-DR) Sandy Disaster Recovery Program.

Theresa Reed, representing the developer, confirmed in response to questions that although the development does eliminate 85 public parking spaces, the metered parking spaces on the streets surrounding the site will remain. She said that her company had worked closely with the township and the Parking Authority, and was assured that the new parking garage in Bloomfield Center could accommodate the parking needs in the area.

The application was approved unanimously by the Board, subject to the changes discussed regarding the trees and curbs, performance guarantees, and required approval by the County.

The Board began the meeting with their annual reorganization, during which Chairman Alan LaQuaglia was voted in again as Chairman, and Daniel McGonigle, who was just reappointed, was voted in as Vice Chairman. Two new members, Sam LaForte and Enver Domingo, as well as Daniel McGonigle, Mayor Venezia, Councilman Chalet and Paul Lasek, were all sworn in.

Hartz Mountain/Watsessing TOD/Zoning Map Changes

Chairman LaQuaglia announced that 192 Bloomfield Avenue, LLC, the developer for the Hartz Mountain site on the corner of Watsessing and Bloomfield Avenues, had officially withdrawn their application pending anticipated changes in the development plan by the Planning Board. They will be required to present a completely new application.

A brief update regarding the Hartz Mountain development plan, the Watsessing Train Station Transit Oriented Development Study, and changes to the tax map was provided by planning consultant Dave Roberts.

Roberts said that the area included in the Transit Oriented Development Study that had been funded by a Department of Community Affairs grant encompassed the Hartz Mountain property, and that this property is an important aspect of the plan since it is nearby not only the train station, but also the bus routes on Bloomfield Avenue and the Newark City Subway stop.

The township council had remanded the Hartz Mountain redevelopment plan back to the Planning Board pending the results of a fiscal impact study, which have just come in, as well as a reconsideration of the initial plan in light of the recommendations of the TOD study.

Roberts said the town’s Planning and Zoning Subcommittee is working on an update of the tax map to try to line up the actual uses in the various zones with how they are zoned. This is a particular issue in regard to 1-family vs. 2-family zones.

He said that ultimately they would produce a re-examination report that would reconcile recommended zoning changes and incorporate findings from the TOD study (with possible updates).

As far as Hartz Mountain goes, Roberts said, they will incorporate input received from Board members regarding the site, as well as the implications of the fiscal impact study, to bring revised recommendations back to the Planning and Zoning Subcommittee.

At the end of the meeting, the Board agreed to hold a special meeting on Tuesday, January 28, 2014, at 7 p.m. in the council chambers. The application for the Annie Sez (Block 243) development will be heard at that time.

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