Planning Board Minutes October 20, 2015

The following minutes are a summary of the Planning Board meeting of October 20, 2015. Interested parties may request an audio recording of the meeting from the Board Secretary for a fee.

Call to Order & Statement of Compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act: Chairman Nalbantian called the meeting to order at 7:40 p.m. The following members were present: Mayor Aronsohn, Ms. Bigos, Mr. Nalbantian, Councilwoman Knudsen, Mr. Reilly, Ms. Altano, Mr. Thurston, and Mr. Joel. Also present were: Gail Price, Esq., Board Attorney; Blais Brancheau, Village Planner; and Michael Cafarelli, Board Secretary. Ms. Dockray was not present.

Chairman Nalbantian made opening remarks regarding safety issues and the hearing process.

Public Comments on Topics not Pending Before the Board – Patricia Infantino said the Arborist said clearing of dead wood in the Schedler property is not good for residents and she said it protects residents from the noise and fumes from Route 17.

Ms. Michele Italia asked if the Schedler property is classified as a residential area. Mr. Brancheau said it was in the R-125 Zone. She asked if a park was constructed in the area, would it remain in the R-125 Zone and Mr. Brancheau said it would. She expressed concern the property values would decrease if the buffer between the homes and Route 17 were removed.

Correspondence received by the Board – Michael Cafarelli reported a notice from Midland Park on a public hearing on the adoption of the Housing Element and Fair Share Plan, a memorandum from the Historic Preservation Commission Chairman listing the non-compliance issues with Tito's Burritos, and parking garage plans.

Councilwoman Knudsen asked if there was a letter from Mr. Brancheau to the Village Council concerning the North Walnut Street Redevelopment Plan. Mr. Brancheau said there was and he would send it to the Board members. She asked about the status of the North Walnut Redevelopment Plan report and Mr. Nalbantian said he reviewed all the material and everything seemed to be consistent with the discussions that lead to the referral to the Council. He said there was a discussion in April 2014 which summarized the issues and he felt the letter was a fair representation of the concerns by the Board.

Hudson Street Parking Deck – Courtesy Presentation – Mayor Aronsohn introduced the speakers and provided background on the parking garage and the referendum on November 3, 2015.

Representatives from the Desman Associates provided the Board with an overview of the project describing it as a work in progress. Tim Tracy talked about the floor plan, traffic circulation, and road modifications. He discussed zoning compliance, the rear yard, setback requirements, parking dimensions, height of the garage, and vertical clearance. Mr. Tracy said the parking garage would be four stories in height plus the roof parking.

Mr. Kenneth Schier from S & L Design talked about the architectural design, stating the garage would be the largest building in the Downtown district, the height of the proposed project, parapets, projections, recesses, and materials to be used.

The Board had questions about the garage cantilever over Hudson Street, whether it was proposed to acquire additional land to the north, consideration of placing parking underground, building two entrances, providing a driveway on Broad Street, pedestrian access in the northeast corner of the garage, green features, access in the rear, traffic flow and lights, neutral approach to the façade, on street parking, and other questions. 

Mr. Schier said it was not efficient to build the cantilever over all of Hudson Street, underground parking would be more costly, two entrances are not necessary based on the traffic study, the traffic flow on Passaic Street would be improved, they are looking at either a grey and or off white color scheme, they are also proponents of the green approach, the garage cannot be opened in the rear due to the ramp design and the turning radius.

Mr. Schier said the plans are a work in progress that they have a 3D presentation available. He said there would be an increase of 309 spaces from the existing condition and it would take approximately ten months to build and be operational.

Sonic Wave dba Tito's Burritos, Preliminary Site Plan Application, 166 East Ridgewood Avenue, Block 3704, Lot 5 – Mr. Nalbantian recused himself. David Rutherford appeared before the Board, gave a recap of the prior hearing, and stated that a variance is no longer needed since the gooseneck lights was resolved. He said the issue now is more aesthetics. Mr. Rutherford presented the Board with exhibits of renderings showing several proposed options including one that included suggestions from the Historical Preservation Commission for the storefront.


Michael Caldarella, a principal of the business discussed the renderings and said all of the renderings showing his other storefronts have the same navy blue color, that the view of the Ridgewood eatery is blocked by other buildings, and needs the blue color. He said sales were up since the blue paint was added and it would be a bad business decision to move forward with the signage proposed by the Historical Preservation Commission.


The Board questioned Mr. Caldarella about the renderings, why the facade was painted blue, the dates his other restaurants were opened, and if he had committed not to paint the facade blue. Mr. Caldarella gave the dates the other eateries were opened and said he had committed not to paint the facade blue because he thought it was limestone.


Board members expressed disappointment that Tito's did not follow the process, and expressed concerns regarding the number of gooseneck lamps, and the list of violations from the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC).


Mr. Parrillo, the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) Chairman said he was disappointed with the applicant’s comments and misrepresentations, and stated that a compromise had been attempted by the HPC. He said the proposed rendering was not an HPC recommendation and that he had expected Tito's Burritos to return to the HPC in October and they did not appear. He went on to say the HPC did not approve the yellow gooseneck lights, or the blue panel. He mentioned the pending violations and cited code 190-125B (7) regarding “bright, brilliant colors” and "character of existing neighborhood colors."


Mr. Parrillo said attempts to comprise failed and asked the Board not to approve Tito's Burritos request.


Mr. Wrubel was sworn and discussed the history of the purple comic book store in the central business district and how this led to a code change limiting the use of bright or brilliant colors. He said that simulations of a building’s appearance often do not reflect reality.


The Board agreed the applicant should return to the Historic Preservation Commission meeting in November and the hearing on the application was continued to the December 1, 2015 meeting without further notice.


Mr. Nalbantian returned at 10:46 p.m.


Approval of Minutes – The minutes from March 31, 2014 were adopted as drafted.


Executive Session – At 10:46 p.m., the Board moved to executive session.


The Board reconvened and adjourned at 11:10 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

                                                                                                Michael Cafarelli

                                                                                                Board Secretary



Date approved: September 20, 2016

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