The Bloomfield Mayor and Council issued a proclamation honoring the members and coaches of the Bloomfield 7th Grade Junior Bengals B Squad at Monday’s council meeting.
The team and coaches were recognized for their achievement in advancing to the Super Bowl of the New Jersey Suburban Youth Football League after beating Chatham 19-18 in a playoff game.
The Mayor and Council also recognized the United Way of Bloomfield for over 55 years of service and urged community support for the organization.
The Council met in back-to-back meetings on Monday night. A conference meeting was held at 6 p.m. in the 2nd floor conference room in the Law Enforcement Building, followed by the regular meeting held in Council Chambers at 7:30.
During both meetings, members of the public spoke about the Dunkin’ Donuts business planned for the site of a former bank at 60 Belleville Avenue. The Dunkin’ Donuts is currently open 24 hours a day in a nearby shopping plaza. The owner plans to move into the new location after having been approved by the Planning Board. The application, which initially included a drive-through window, was first heard by the Zoning Board and the variance to allow the business to operate a drive-through window was denied. The owner then went to the Planning Board for approval of the project without a drive-in. If they choose to appeal the Zoning Board decision and are unsuccessful, they will be required to come back to the Planning Board with a revised site plan eliminating the drive-through window and overhead canopy.
Residents pointed out that Chapter 159 of the Bloomfield Code prohibits retail stores (including those that sell food) from being open 24 hours if they are within 200 feet of a residential area. Stores in close proximity to residential areas are required to be closed from midnight to 6 a.m. The planned location is directly adjacent to residential homes on Davey Street.
The residents also questioned why the Planning Board approved the application when the applicant had made it clear that the store would be open 24 hours. Community Development Director Glenn Domenick, who said he was unaware of the ordinance prior to this case, said it was a township matter, not a land use matter. He said that the information about opening hours would be part of any application for a Certificate of Occupancy, and nothing has been received in writing from the applicant yet.
The attorney for Dunkin’ Donuts, who was present during the conference meeting, stated that they do intend to apply for 24-hour opening hours, and that the ordinance in question does not pertain to Dunkin Donuts. Mayor Venezia said this was “not the time to debate” the issue.
Councilman Joe Lopez, who had placed the issue on Monday night’s agenda, urged the council to send a preemptive letter to the store owner to let them know the township would be enforcing the ordinance calling for reduced hours.
Linda Ballan, an attorney who has an office next to the planned Dunkin Donuts site, spoke during public comment at both the conference and regular meetings. She questioned why the ordinance wouldn’t apply to Dunkin Donuts, given that they are a retail store and they sell food, which is included in the ordinance banning 24-hour sales 200 feet from a residential neighborhood.
Maureen Chauncey of Davey Street, who also spoke at both meetings, said that the Dunkin’ Donuts being open 24 hours would “dramatically change” the quality of life for residents on her street, “bringing in vagrants” and noise to the area.
During the conference meeting, Township Clerk Louise Palagano announced that Moon Palace, a bar/restaurant on Arlington Street on the border of East Orange, had new ABC code violations since they last appeared before the council due to previous violations. The new violations included an intoxicated employee on-site, and the licensee trying to hinder the investigation. Councilman Joe Lopez said that the establishment should be closed down due to the many previous incidents. Mayor Venezia said there is a hearing for Moon Palace already scheduled before the Council on January 26, 2015.
Bloomfield Center Alliance Director Jamie McCrone made a brief presentation at the beginning of the regular council meeting. He said the renovation of the Six Points intersection is under way. The first stage, which involves a change allowing drivers to turn left off Bloomfield Avenue onto Glenwood Avenue, was accomplished Monday evening when the council voted on second reading to amend the ordinance to allow the turn. Mayor Venezia posted on Facebook Tuesday morning that the change is happening immediately.
Other changes to the intersection, including sidewalks and new lampposts, will be implemented in spring of 2015, according to the BCA.
2015 Meeting Schedule
This was the last meeting of the council for 2014. The next meeting will be held on Monday, January 5, 2015, and will include the annual organization meeting to be held at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers, followed by the first regular meeting of the year.
NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect that the owners of the Dunkin’ Donuts have not yet decided whether or not to appeal the Zoning Board decision regarding the drive-through.