The following minutes are a summary of the Planning Board meeting of May 5, 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 8:27 p.m. The following members were present: The following members were present: Mr. Nalbantian, Councilwoman Knudsen, Mayor Aronsohn, Mr. Reilly, Ms. Altano, Mr. Joel, Mr. Thurston, Ms. Dockray, Ms. Bigos, Mr. Abdalla, and Ms. Peters. Also present were: Gail Price, Esq., Board Attorney; Blais Brancheau, Village Planner; Chris Rutishauser, Village Engineer and Michael Cafarelli, Board Secretary.
Public Comments on Topics not Pending Before the Board –
Lorraine Reynolds – Ms. Reynolds said the revised agenda was not posted on the Village website and this was an inconvenience to the residents.
Correspondence received by the Board – There was none.
Courtesy Review - Ridgewood High School Installation of a Cellular Antenna and
Repeaters – No one was in attendance.
Public Hearing: Land Use Plan Element of the Master Plan AH-2, B-3-R, C-R and C Zone Districts – Continuation of Village Planner, Public Comment, and Instructions to the Board. Following is the transcript of this portion of the meeting, prepared by Laura A. Carucci, C.C.R., R.P.R.:
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Let's move on to the next item which is the public hearing on the Amendment to the Element of the Land Use Plan Amendment to the Master Plan, AH-2, B-3-R, C-R and C Zone Districts. Continuation of the Village Planner, public comment, and instructions to the Board.
MS. PRICE: Right.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: So let me begin by saying that per prior advice to the public and also to the Board, no deliberations or action will be taken tonight on this matter. At the last meeting on April 21st, Blais reviewed with the Board potential modifications to the original Amendment dated December, 2013, that addresses, in reasonable balance, some of the concerns expressed by the Board and the public during these hearings.
The Board then voted to bring that modified amendment and to the public hearing tonight, which was promptly noticed for this evening. So now we will begin with Blais' testimony regarding the modified amendment and the public, interested parties, counsel, and the Board will then have opportunity for questions and cross-examination with regard to his testimony.
The same will also occur the other witnesses, if there are any, new testimony from the parties involved and counsel. We will then open for public comment tonight. Then at the next hearing date, and after we hear any further instructions from the Board Counsel, we will deliberate and then take action on the matter. So this the modification. Gail, you want to bring us up-to-date?
MS. PRICE: Yes. Just a couple of thing for the record. Since this involves substantive changes to the former Proposed Amendment under consideration by the Board, new notice was afforded pursuant to the Municipal Land Use Law and that notice was provided by the Board secretary both to the County of Bergen and to the required newspapers and was effectuated timely. And notice actually went out the day after our last meeting, and that notice should be marked for the Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 2
record as Exhibit B-17.
(Whereupon, New Notice is marked as Exhibit B-17 for identification.)
MS. PRICE: The Proposed Amendment that's being considered this evening and that we'll here testimony from Blais, bears the date April 21st, 2015, and that should be considered Exhibit B-18. (Whereupon, the Proposed Amendment as Modified is marked as Exhibit B-18 for identification.)
MS. PRICE: For the record, I want to also note that Blais was able to produce this document in more than the required 10 days before the hearing and the document was available in the office of the board secretary the day after the last hearing, and not just the required 10 days.
So it was available to the public for the full time since the last hearing, and has been on file continuously since then. So notice and filing is in accordance with the Municipal Land Use Law, and we can proceed with the continued hearing this evening. Mr. Brancheau remains under oath, and I understand that, Blais?
MR. BRANCHEAU: (Nods.)
MS. PRICE: We can't accept a nod.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes, I understand that.
B L A I S B R A N C H E A U,
Having been previously sworn, continued to testify as follows:
MS. PRICE: Okay.
MR. BRANCHEAU: And for the Board's information, I will be speaking from my chair here, not standing because --
MS. PRICE: Can everyone hear in the back?
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- we do not have a personal mic available for my use, otherwise I would stand.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Can you hear? Can you hear Blais?
MS. PRICE: If you can't --
MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: It's very hard to hear when you're in the back under the overhang. Last week, we could hardly hear at all. So, if could -- everybody use the mics, it is a big help. We can hear Gail very well because you're using the mic.
MS. PRICE: No one ever has a problem hearing me.
If anybody has a problem hearing Blais during his testimony, if you could raise your hand and that way we can let him know since he can't see who's behind him. And then we can just encourage that.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Blais, before you begin, have copies been made for the public?
MR. CAFARELLI: Yes. They're on the desk.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: So if you want to see the modified amendment, there are copies in the back. Okay.
MS. DOCKRAY: Charles, if it's a problem in the back row, why don't you -- the seats are way far back, can they just move up?
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: We can't hear.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Use your microphone.
MS. PRICE: Wendy, you can't be heard.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Bring the microphone closer.
MS. PRICE: You can't be heard.
MS. DOCKRAY: I was just going to say, the seats are pushed way far back. If they can't hear from the back row, just move things up a little.
MS. PETERS: And go in the front row.
MS. DOCKRAY: And there's a lot of seats in the front row.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: What we'll do is, we'll try to speak in the mic.
I'm going to ask if you cannot hear who is speaking, please raise your hand and point to your ear and then I'll see that. Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 3
Okay, Blais, the floor is yours.
MR. BRANCHEAU: I just remind the Board and also interested parties in the public and also the focus of the hearing is tonight on the amendment. This is not a start all over again hearing, but only on the changes from the prior hearing. So what I would like to do in my presentation is go through the changes to the plan from the last plan. And that would be the focus of the discussion.
So I'm just going to walk through the plan page by page and describe what's changed. And some of the reasons behind what's changed which, again, have been proposed as a result of comments from the Board as a result of my own evaluation as well.
Beginning at the beginning introduction, I struck the entire five paragraphs from the former introduction with the understanding that language there was more appropriate for a resolution.
If the Board adopts this, that this language or similar language to that introduction would be more appropriate in the resolution and not apart of the plan itself.
I also eliminated one paragraph at the end of the section which describes the general objectives of the amendment. Again, for the same reason. It should be really placed in the resolution adopting the plan, not in the plan, itself. It quickly becomes dated when it gets put in the plan, so it's more relevant for a resolution.
And then an important change is the change in the zone map. On the easel to my left, to your right, Board Members, is the proposed new map and the changes to that map I will briefly describe.
The changes were really threefold. One was to modify the formerly proposed C-R Zone which, in the prior amendment went all the way from Franklin Avenue up to Robinson Place on the west side of Chestnut Street between Chestnut and the railroad.
Under the new map, you'll see that the C-R Zone is that area in pink on the map. That's the same as -- by the way, in your report, I don't know if we need to mark that as a separate exhibit or not, but it's the same exact label as was is in the amendment itself.
The pink area which is limited to the former inspection station property, which is now vacant, is shown as the C-R Zone.
In addition, the southern end of the C-R Zone, which includes what's known as the Station Motors Property as well as other properties fronting on Chestnut Street adjacent to the Station Motors properties, has changed from a C-R Zone to the B-3-R Zone; the same as the property which is located between Franklin and Ridgewood Avenue, fronting on Maple Avenue.
And, again, we explained this in the work session deliberation at the last meeting, that the reason for those changes were, one, the similarity of the Ridgewood station site to the -- what is known as the Enclave site on Maple Avenue in that they're both more downtown sites as opposed to the properties further north on Chestnut Street which have a different feel and some different standards as well for those zones.
And then, secondly, the elimination of the properties between the Chestnut Village site and the Station Motors site shown in blue on this map which are being restored to the C Zone that there are currently located in, with the understanding that those properties which include three properties, the West Bergen Mental Health property, the office building property, and the utility station property were not included in this with the recognition that there was a feeling that too much housing, if that were all to be developed, might shift the character of the area away from commercial to too much residential. So it was a scaling back, if you will, of the properties that would be available for housing.
MS. PETERS: Charles, may I make a comment?
MR. BRANCHEAU: That's the map change.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: I'm sorry, Michele?
MS. PETERS: I want to make a comment at this point because I know that I commented on this at our last -- at our last meeting.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: My suggestion, if he could, since he's giving testimony, let him give Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 4
the testimony, and then when you cross, then you can raise that as a question. Okay?
MS. PETERS: Okay.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Okay?
MS. PETERS: Yes.
MR. BRANCHEAU: The next change is just a minor word change. I inserted the word "A" in the first line of the AH-2 Affordable Housing Zone. It was just a typographical mistake.
Now, the standards for the AH-2 Zone in general, I would describe the changes in the standards for these various zones as a reduction in density, a reduction in floor area, and ae reduction in height.
There are also some other changes as well, but those -- all those three all are intended to respond to the Board's comments which I could characterize generally as saying that the developments were too intense, they'd like to see them scaled back, so that was done.
For the AH-2 Zone, the change in density, which they're again keeping in mind that under COAH regulations, affordable housing projects must incentivize rental housing and that includes a density bonus and a set aside reduction. So for for-sale affordable housing units, the old plan read 30 to 40 units per acre; the new plan reads 30 units per acre. And then the old plan, the rental projects read 40 to 50 units per acre; the new plan reads 35 units per acre.
For floor area ratio, the old plan read 140 to 150 percent; the new plan reads 120 to 130 percent. And that's for for-sale units and for rental units, it's -- it used to read 150 to 160. Now it reads 130 to 140. So, the whole category, there was a 20 percent reduction in floor area ratio.
I note on that item that the table in the plan excludes recreational and social areas from that percentage. The reason for that exclusion and this will be repeated when we get into the other zones as well, was that we have not discussed the amount of recreational area, so I did not know what effect it would have upon the floor area ratio.
It would be my intent, when we get to an ordinance, to not exclude recreational social area, and that based upon that, this floor area ratio, which again would not be arranged in the ordinance, but would be a single number, would need to incorporate that. But without knowing how much, I can't adjust this to effect that accurately.
The next change is a reduction in the height. The old plan allowed for-sale projects to be 45 to 50 feet, that was just changed to 50 feet which is was the zone currently permits.
And the for-rent projects were a height range of 50 to 55 feet in the prior version of this plan. It's been reduced to just 50 feet. So a five feet reduction there. And then, lastly, in this zone, there was an addition of a requirement that every project, housing project provide recreational and social amenities. And the language in that says: "Both interior and exterior common areas that would be devoted to recreational, social and similar functions for residents and their guests."
And again, that relates to the floor area issue I just spoke about.
The next is in discussing the B-3-R, the business and residential zone district. Again, the one change on the map was to change one area from C-R to B-3-R, so that's a change to the B-3-R.
In addition, there was a modification here to limit commercial uses to the ground floor and/or basement in any new floor area that would be constructed in the district. And to require that at least two-thirds of new floor area constructed in the area be residential.
And, again, this is related to the affordable housing obligation that the Village has under the Fair Housing Act and the recent Supreme Court decision related to affordable housing.
So, while this does prevent mixed use, it does not permit an entirely commercial project. And the intent of this is to ensure that if this were to be redeveloped, that there would be housing built as part of the project. And I think that would be required by state regulation for the Village to get credit in its housing plan.
MS. DOCKRAY: I'm sorry, Blais. Just want to know what page you're on?
MR. BRANCHEAU: I'm on page -- well, I'm reading from my red line, but I can tell you in your version, that is page 6, Item B(5).
MS. DOCKRAY: So, you're still in the -- the AH-2 zone? Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 5
MR. BRANCHEAU: No, I'm in the B-3-R Zone.
MS. DOCKRAY: We went to B-3-R?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: The red line you're on page 6?
MR. BRANCHEAU: I'm going from the clean version it's on page 6.
MS. DOCKRAY: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: In the red line version that I have, it's page 8.
And it's item B(5) under the B-3-R zone.
And then we get to the development standards in the B-3-R zone.
And the whole column dealing with commercial development as a single use was eliminated in that table because, again, single commercial use development is being eliminated as an option.
It must include a housing component. Some commercial is allowed, but not a sole commercial development. Other changes were a reduction in the maximum density as was described in the AH-2 zone, and there was a density reduction in the B-3-R zone.
And, again, we have three columns in this zone where we have for-sale housing projects, for-rent housing projects, and then mixed use projects. And the standards for density used to read 30 to 40 per acre. They've been reduced to just a straight 30 units per acre for-sale housing projects. It used to be 40 to 50 units per acre for-rent projects, that's been reduced to 35. No range, just a straight number 35. And the mixed use density would be the same, depending upon whether it was for-sale or for-rent housing projects.
Under floor area ratio, it used to be a range for for-sale housing projects of 140 percent to 150 percent of the lot area; that's been reduced to 130 to 140. Also, for-rent housing projects, it used to be 150 to 160 percent; that's been reduced to 140 to 150 percent. And for mixed use projects, floor area ratio was limited to 33 percent commercial for -- again, for new construction, and that would be at least two-thirds residential which was, again, described and attached earlier. The total floor area ratio would be the same as was described in the for-sale and for-rent projects.
Now, you'll notice that this reduction is only 10 percent from the prior version of the plan, not 20 percent as in the AH-2 zone. The reason for that is that the AH-2 zone, that only permits housing period, whereas this is the mixed use zone. Commercial development is allowed in combination with housing, and that was the reason why I did not reduce the floor area ratio further to accommodate that commercial development.
Under improvement coverage, just a minor word change. We used to say the same as multifamily housing the case of a mixed use development, I just repeated the numbers which again is 90 to 100 percent range as in the other two columns.
Under building height, the same reduction as before. In the AH-2 Zone it's 50 feet for-sale affordable. And it used to be up to 55. And for-rent that was reduced to 50 feet. And, again, I've made that the same for the mixed use 50 feet. Again, the zone currently -- in that location, currently allows 50 feet for affordable housing projects. So there's no change from zoning as to building height. I eliminated the two columns dealing with minimum and maximum front yard, from the former amendment, and I replaced them with specialized front yard requirements based upon the street frontage that was applicable. And the reason for those different standards is that the street width, for example, the width of Maple Avenue and the width of Franklin Avenue, the width of Chestnut Street are different. Chestnut Street in particular is only 40 feet wide right-of-way and, therefore, I felt it called for a larger setback than would otherwise apply.
In addition, other streets don't have a uniform driveway width. So, instead of measuring it from the right-of-way line, the setback is measured from the street curb. That was in the case of Maple Avenue and East Ridgewood Avenue. So whereas the old plan had a minimum front yard of 12 feet from the street curb uniformly, the new plan for both rental and for-sale projects and for mixed use projects, has 12 feet from the street curb on Maple Avenue and East Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 6
Ridgewood Avenue. It has 15 feet from the property line for commercial use and from Franklin Avenue, no setback requirement. And those are minimums, not maximums, were added here of 15 feet -- actually, they were added the same -- they're the same as what they were before, 15 feet that's from Franklin Avenue and then the minimum front yard at Chestnut Street was 15 feet, whereas in the past, it was 12 feet from the street curb. And, again, this was done to increase the setback from Chestnut Street. Under the side or rear yard setback requirements, the old plan says 0 to 12 feet and continues to say that in all cases. And the setback for the railroad property was added to this zone. Remember, the B-3-R zone used to not abut the railroad, but it now would, in one of the locations, abut the railroad. So, I added the requirement for the setback which is the same as what it used to be in the C-R Zone application, 25 feet.
As with the AH-2 zone, we added requirement for recreational and social amenities, both indoor and outdoor. That covers the B-3-R zone. So you're following along, we should be at page 8 in the -- what I call the clean version, not the red line version. And we'll begin with the C-R Zone district changes. In that paragraph, the first paragraph under the C-R Zone district, there were some minor word changes to strike "it is consistent with" and strike also the word "to provide a transition between the central Business District and the C Zone on Chestnut Street.
And this was due because of the change to the southern end of that District to a B-3-R designation, whereas it had been a C-R there. And, as a C-R in that location, it was a transition, whereas the C-R now is no longer a transition from the CBD. Then under use limitations, paragraph B(4), the same thing as we have before with the B-3-R zone, that was to limit commercial uses to the ground floor and basement and to limit the commercial uses to one-third of the building requiring at least two-thirds of the building for new construction to be residential; same language, same wording exactly as in the B-3-R for the same reason. Under the table of lot bulk and intensity use standards, it defines a number of similarities to the B-3-R change. Firstly, we eliminated the column for pure commercial development because, again, pure commercial development is not proposed to be allowed in this zone. Mixed use is allowed, under the proposal, more pure housing, but not pure commercial. So that column is deleted.
As with the B-3-R, the reduction in density used to be 30 to 40 units per acre for for-sale projects it was lowered to 30 units per acre, so a range. And, again, what used to be 40 to 50 for-rental projects was lowered to 35 units per acre. And there was one typo in that column that said, "for-sale" for both columns. I changed the second column to "for-rent." The floor area ratio again was reduced by 10 percent for both for-sale housing projects and for for-rent housing projects. Again, it used to be 140 to 150 for the former. It is now 130 to 140. And the same with the rental developments, which was 150 to 160, is now proposed at 140 to 150.
As with the B-3-R, a 10 percent reduction recognizing that the mixed use and floor area ratio would likely be greater.
And, again, reflecting the text language in B(4)about requiring that at least two-thirds of residential and no more than one-third commercial be the break down in any mixed use project that is reflected in this table as well. No change in the improvement coverage row. That stands at 90 to 95 percent. Building height, again, reduction where it used to allow 50 to 55 in the rental was reduced to 50, the existing field. On the front yard, no change. There should be a change.
The C-R Zone taking minimum front yard on Franklin Avenue it says 0 feet, there is no Franklin Avenue frontage in the C-R Zone. It fronts only to Chestnut Street. So that row should not be in there. And the next row which talks about minimum front yard 15 feet is what should be in the plan. So, I would strike one row. We don't need to modify the other row. But that should be modified.
Again, there used to be frontage on Franklin Avenue, but that -- with the zone change on the map that I described; that no longer applies. The side or rear yard, no change to that. The setback from the railroad there were minor word changes to say that that is applicable to the principal buildings. Again, we added the requirement that there be recreational and social Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 7
amenities, both inside and outside the building.
So, now, if you're following along, page 11 is where you should be in the plan amendment we are talking about the C Commercial Zone District. And, again, the changes to the C Commercial Zone District which we described before were largely boundary and use amendments as well as some minor bulk standards, changes here are fairly limited for that reason. Inserted the word "above" under the first line in permitted uses in Paragraph A. And then in the table of Lot, Bulk and Intensity of use standards, the front yard required was increased from five to fifteen feet, again in recognition of the narrow width of Chestnut Street. Other than that, no changes to the standards for the C Zone. So that describes the amendments that are before the Board at this time.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Are you finished, Blais?
MR. BRANCHEAU: I am finished, yes.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: So, what we'll do is consistent with how we've conducted these hearings, we will hear questions from the public first. So, this is a time when members of the public can ask Blais questions about his testimony tonight which would be questions with regard to the changes that he described, be clarification or be questions. How many members of the public have questions for Blais? Okay. Well, why don't we start with -- come forward just one at a time, state your name.
Actually, why don't you come to this chair (indicating), right here, since we don't have a podium. State your name, spell your name, and provide your address. You have three questions. Please ask all three, if you have three. And then if you have more, you can come back after everyone's had their chance to ask questions. And, Blais, if you listen to all three and address them together so we don't have runon questions.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Would it be helpful if I moved my chair here (indicating)?
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Yes. Why don't you do that.
Also, as a reminder, members of the public, sometimes you might not like what you hear. It does not mean that you can boo or cheer or whatever. It means, this is an opportunity for questions to be asked so answers can be provided. Take the time to listen, rather than cheer or boo.
MS. IRWIN: Okay.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Please state your name and spell your last name.
MS. IRWIN: Jodi Irwin, I-R-W-I-N, 340 Godwin Avenue.
I'm just -- I'm wondering how or why the original density was 40 to 50 units per acre and how or why now we're at 30 to 35. I just -- maybe you could walk us through why we started at 40 to 50. Is it just something you thought was a good idea because similar towns do it? Is it a developer oriented idea? And then, how did you even get to the number that you're at now?
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Is that your only question?
MS. IRWIN: Yeah, that's my only question for now.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Okay.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Firstly, on why we had the original one, that's not on the table. And I don't want to repeat testimony, but I'll briefly summarize that the original density was done partially in response to what was submitted to the Board, but it was also put forward, in draft, based upon an analysis of what we felt could be accommodated on the site, meeting standards for height, meeting standards for coverage, meeting standards for parking, number of stories. And based upon our analysis, we show that even much higher densities than that could be achieved based upon different situations. So, what was proposed was something that could be accommodated.
MS. IRWIN: So, can I just ask about that though? I mean, was that cause, sure, we could have a hundred units per acre. But --
MR. BRANCHEAU: No, we couldn't. Not without variance.
MS. IRWIN: Right, but was that like related to what Summit does or what similar towns do or just what we -- is the possibility of what we could do? Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 8
MR. BRANCHEAU: Well --
MS. IRWIN: I'm just trying to get to how we got to where we are now.
MR. BRANCHEAU: I know some towns that do higher. I know some towns that do lower. And each town has to decide for itself what it feels is appropriate. But as far as the reduction that I heard from the Board: They wanted to reduce height; they wanted to reduce mass; they wanted to reduce density. And so that reduction was done based upon my own analysis or did not give me a figure to use, but my own analysis showed that with the reduction in height that this could still be achieved in compliance with all height and coverage requirements and parking requirements that were there. You know, that was the basis for this.
MS. IRWIN: So, for example, you didn't choose 20, and why would that be?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Well, I'd have the same question as to why would I choose 20?
MS. IRWIN: Why would you choose 30?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Why would I choose 30? I would choose -- well, one of the fundamental reasons that's laid out in the plan is that the housing is not something that I view, and hopefully the Board doesn't view, I don't think so, is that the housing is not viewed as a necessary evil that we're forced to do. But we view this as a positive thing. And that density is not necessarily something that is bad, that density -- again, the reasons for this were largely to address a housing need both market rate and affordable. Market rate housing, the testimony's replete with discussion of addressing the need for those people who do not want single-family homes, whether they already live in Ridgewood and want to downsize to an apartment or whether they're younger couples that can't afford a single-family home. That was a housing need that we were seeking to establish. So, the more housing that gets built, the more that that need gets satisfied.
We also discussed the Village's affordable housing obligation which is constitutional. And under that, the Village has an obligation to plan and zone for housing at a sufficient density that would accommodate affordable housing units and that density has to be realistic and economically feasible to achieve.
And then the third reason was that the housing in close proximity to the downtown would help to support the commercial activity in downtown. Right, people living close to stores and restaurants, and services would be more likely to use those stores and services and restaurants and so, therefore, it would help the commercial base of the downtown area by placing housing units in closer proximity.
So, in a sense the more of that housing that gets built, the more those goals get achieved.
Now, we could all say, well, that's great. Why not do a hundred units per acre and do that? There's obviously downsides as well. Where the more units you build up there, the bigger the building gets, the taller the building gets. So this is a balancing of goods that are trying to be achieved as well as a balancing of recognizing that there are limits before you start to spillover the other way.
So, we tried to strike a balance here. Obviously, the Board will decide what it feels the appropriate balance is. But those were the reasons for doing that. So, I'm not looking at density as something that is a bad thing. I'm viewing it as something that is a good thing, but it has it's limited.
MS. IRWIN: Right. I'm not looking at it as a bad thing either. I just -- I'm just wondering. It kind of seems like it could have been 28 units per acre. It kind of seems like I'm just wondering where that --
MR. BRANCHEAU: It's --
MS. IRWIN: -- it's just you thought that was a good number.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Well, no, it's not just that I thought. I actually laid out a plan showing, okay, in the downtown area we permit buildings that include affordable housing at 50 feet tall. I looked at story heights. I said, okay, that's going to give me basically a four story building could be built in a 50 foot height. I said, okay, if I laid out that building with parking, how many -- how Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 9
much can I get on that site? Again, meeting setback requirements, meeting height requirements, meeting parking requirement, what can I build? Even coverage requirements, what can I build?
And I ended up with the building that some analyses showed over 70 units per acre, but those units would have been small.
So, recognizing that we wanted larger units, again, the reason for the larger units is that's one of the requirements of somebody who's moving from a single-family home, who wants to downsize, but not downsize to a tiny apartment.
The other reason is that those units would have a better ability to be more luxury level. And people that live in those units are likely to have more disposable income and more likely to spend that income to support the downtown that we talked about.
So, we look at it that way. And we try to back in based upon average size of the units. You try to factor in the space needed for hallways and lobbies and storage areas and so forth. That was a density that I arrived at. Now, like I said, it's not an exact science. A lot of it has to do with how a building is designed and laid out and configured. So I don't think you can come up with a number of 28, of 38, of 37.2 because there are so many variables that are involved in trying to make that determination, to try to make the best approximation we can; that's what I did.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: I would like to politely interject also. It's a fine line. We've gone through a lot of hearings that go into explanations of this various --
MS. IRWIN: Right.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: -- sources and what I'd like to do is avoid having to go back on the original --
MS. IRWIN: No, I just thought it was instructive on how you get to 30.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Yeah, I know. It was very helpful, that's why I wanted to and allowed him to finish it. In the future, I think we have to try to keep it his testimony this evening on the change rather than the original cases, walk us through. So thank you very much for your question.
MS. IRWIN: You're welcome.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Next person with questions for Blais on his testimony tonight?
Come forward. Have a seat please and please speak your name, spell your name and provide your address.
MR. BONFIGLIO: It's John Bonfiglio, it's spelled "B" as in boy, O-N-F-I-G-L-I-O. I'm at 237 Waiku Road in Ridgewood.
I'm not sure if it's totally, Blais, change, I'm trying to understand the magnitude of the overall change. Do you know, in an aggregate, about the total acreage in B-3-R, AH-2 and C-R? In other words --
MR. BRANCHEAU: All total?
MR. BONFIGLIO: -- is it 10 acres? Is it 15?
MR. BRANCHEAU: The total of all four?
MR. BONFIGLITO: Yeah.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes, I do.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Blais, this is the amended numbers, right? The changes, the revised numbers?
MR. BONFIGLITO: While he's looking, I would add as a citizen, I don't know, 10, 12, 50, I would say it seems like you've made a lot of progress going from 50 down to 35. So, on that part, well done, in terms of units.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Okay. Let him answer the question.
MR. BRANCHEAU: The original proposal had 10.86 acres. The revised proposal is 7.32 acres. So it's a reduction of about two-and-a-half acres from what was originally proposed.
MR. BONFIGLITO: So, before if you knew 35 an acre was 350 new units, now even less, right? Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 10
So what is that? Two hundred-ish, at the maximum?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yeah. Right now, I calculated that if every site was developed to maximum capacity of 35 units per acre it would be a total number of units of 256.
Whereas, in the prior plan, if you developed all 10.86 acres at 50 units per acre, which is what the maximum was, you would have had 543 units. So, essentially, more or less -- more than -- reduced by more than half the total maximum build out.
MR. BONFIGLITO: Which again, I'll editorialize as a citizen, I think that's tremendous progress.
But I guess the concern I've had for coming on two years now is the same one. I'm in the real estate --
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Please, questions.
MR. BONFIGLITO: This is a question.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Please limit these to questions. There will be public comment and you can make your comments --
MR. BONFIGLITO: Sure, sorry.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: -- at the appropriate time.
MR. BONFIGLITO: Sorry.
So my question is, how have you delineated sufficiently the acres that are now rezoned from adjacent acres so that you can prevent the successful challenge by real estate developer who seeks similar high-density housing that could, in my opinion, radically change the nature of Ridgewood.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Is that your last question?
MR. BONFIGLITO: Yes, it is.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Okay.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Well, A, there are no guarantees. All right? I can only tell you what I think.
Firstly, the State regulations say that for an affordable housing site to be included in a housing plan and to be recognized as reasonable opportunity, it has to meet certain criteria. And all of these sites would be -- are planned, at least, to be eligible towards meeting the Village's affordable housing obligations. They must be available. They must be developable. They have to have adequate street frontage. They have to have adequate sewer and service utilities. They have to be appropriate and they have to be something that is readily developable.
MS. PETERS: Development.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Readily developable properties. All right.
So if someone were to say to me today, well, I would like to tear down a building and build affordable housing, and it's right next to or in between, let's say, the B-3-R and CR zone, it's possible that that could happen. Do I think it's likely? No. First of all, I don't think that the power station is going to go anywhere. Secondly, the sites would have to meet the standard of a minimum size that we've established. And then, lastly, I think the Village would be able to say, well, if that's the case, why not just place an overlay zone over the entire Village of Ridgewood and require that any property that comes up for development be affordable housing. And I don't think that the law requires that to be the case.
The Village has some discretion to say if you want to take away our whole Commercial Zoning District, that would obviously be harmful to the public. So there has to be some balance there that, you know, someone says, okay, I want you to take down the Wilsey building and put affordable housing there. I think we could to say that for many reasons we don't want to see that happen. And that if we were forced to require affordable housing on every re-developable site, it would obviously be a whole number of issues that we would reduce to do that.
But I would cite as an example that we have, for many years, had multiple-family housing sites that were in the downtown area. To suggest that because we zone for some, we must necessarily zone for more, I don't think is reasonable, given that no one has come forward in all those years, even though the Village has not satisfied its affordable housing obligations, to say, you did it for them, do it for me. I don't think we would be required to do that, certainly not in Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 11
every case. Could I guarantee to you that no one could ever come forward and force us to do it in another case? No, I cannot. That would be a case by case basis. Depends on where it was. I can't guarantee it. I don't think anyone can guarantee that. We could vote this down, but it wouldn't change that. They could still come in and challenge that. So what we do here, as part of this application, will have no bearing on the ability of someone to challenge our zoning under the Fair Housing Act; that is always out there.
MR. BONFIGLITO: But you don't think you've set a precedence that all space between those is kind of fodder for it to be redeveloped?
MR. BRANCHEAU: No, I don't think so. I -- again, I'm not saying that nowhere could that challenge be successful. I am saying that this was a reasonable and well-reasoned approach to addressing not only our Fair Share Housing requirements, but towards balancing those requirements with other housing needs and satisfying the need to sustain the commercial district, as well as not wanting to completely replace commercial development with too much housing over the balance of housing.
So you can't answer that question black or white. It's gray. But I think we've made a reasonable effort to strike an appropriate balance with that. Could someone challenge it? Yes.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Blais.
MS. PRICE: Blais? Can I just ask you to address not the affordable housing side of it and the flip side which is the -- because I think that's part of where you're question's coming from, on the legal precedent side, and address the difference of someone coming in, when a town adopts a Master Plan Amendment, and the relevance of that Master Plan Amendment, and a subsequent application compared to the absence of Master Plan language that speaks directly to that particular use. And your opinion, if that is relevant to this gentleman's question, because I think that the question is: Is there anything that stops the flood gates from saying me too?
MR. BONFIGLITO: Yes.
MS. PRICE: And if there are any legal hurdles or extra legal hurdles that that applicant might have to overcome in terms of a zoning board application.
MR. BRANCHEAU: We're talking outside of affordable housing.
MS. PRICE: Outside of the affordable housing units.
MR. BRANCHEAU: And I said that because, as you know the recent Supreme Court Decision on affordable housing, which sort of changes the tenor of this. But outside of that, normally a municipality, as long as it doesn't really do something stupid, is presumed that their zoning is valid and that just because someone wants it or can argue that it would be a good thing, that a municipality is required to rezone, that's not the case. Let's say there is four different zoning options that would all be arguable that would do good things. Municipalities are allowed to choose which one. And if someone comes in and says, I have another one that's good, the municipality doesn't have to do that. The municipality only has to do something that is good in the public interest. It doesn't have to say to somebody who wants their property rezoned says, this would be good, too. The Village could say, what's there does good, so we're not going with your option. And so --
MS. PRICE: What about the legal precedence of a zoning board matter.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Okay. There are a number of case law where Medici and there's other cases that talk about the erosion of zone boundaries, where there's a certain development here and someone comes in and wants to do the same or similar development right next door. And it just happens to be in a different zone boundary.
The Courts have essentially said that -- assuming, again, the municipality didn't do something stupid and zone a property inappropriately that's not in the public interest, but assuming that the zoning of the property is in the public interest, the Court has said that you have a heavy burden to overcome to force a municipality to either grant you a variance or to force it to rezone. There has to be some compelling reason why the municipality would be forced to do that.
And so, as long as the basic zoning that was established in the Master Plan is done reasonably Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 12
and for valid reasons, I think it's protected against either their requirement that you grant a variance or that you rezone to give a developer something else.
MR. BONFIGLITO: Okay. Thank you. That's very helpful.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Thank you for your questions.
Does someone else have questions of Blais, again, specifically, on his testimony tonight.
Please state your name, spell your name, provide your address, and ask all three questions, if you have three.
MR. McCARTHY: Jim McCarthy, 153 Hope Street, Ridgewood, New Jersey.
My understanding is that we're due to redo the Master Plan by the end of '16. If we move this discussion to completion and make a modification to the plan, do we still have to modify the plan again by the end of '16, because we haven't dealt with parking, we haven't dealt with any of those other issues?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Is there another question?
MR. McCARTHY: Yeah, I have two other questions.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Okay. Well --
MR. McCARTHY: So --
MR. BRANCHEAU: I'm going to ask you before you go on to those, could you restate that question because I lost you somewhere.
MR. McCARTHY: So, we're modifying -- we're modifying the Master Plan in what seems like a very pinpoint way. We're due to have a Master Plan Amendment at the end of '16.
MS. PRICE: Re-exam.
MR. McCARTHY: Re-exam at the end of '16.
MR. BRANCHEAU: I'll respond to that.
MR. McCARTHY: And we haven't dealt with maybe the seminal issue in the town which is parking.
So, am I correct in my assumption that we will have to go through yet another Master Plan re-exam next year?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Okay.
MR. McCARTHY: Number 2, all of the plans that have been submitted by the developers are for rental properties, is that -- and if I'm correct in that, doesn't that make 35 the operative number and the 30 that's talked about in the for-sale column essentially illusory? Third, why in B-3-R would we have a 0 setback along Franklin Avenue right when you enter and exit the underpass which is -- so the buildings would loom right up against the property line as you enter a space that is both optically and actually very confined and kind of, you know, a caged environment coming in and out of the overpass, right, and you'll have a 50 foot tall escarpment right against the street there.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Okay. First, there's a little confusion. The reexamination that the Board has started on the Master Plan is not an amendment of the plan. It's merely a looking at the plan and the Village's development regulations to see what areas need to be updated, what areas are just fine the way they are, what changes in the law and circumstances require us to look at it again. The re-exam is not, itself, going to be an amendment of the plan. It's only going to identify those parts of the plan that need to be either studied or amended, as well as those aspects of development regulations that need to be studied or amended. So, as far as doing it again, I don't think so. I think that this is --
MR. McCARTHY: I'm sorry.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes?
MR. McCARTHY: Because we believe that by doing it in this corner of the Village, we're all done?
MR. BRANCHEAU: No. I didn't say we were all done. What I'm saying is that we looked at this aspect of it here. Just like we did historic preservation a couple of years ago, we do -- we did a Storm water Element a few years ago. We do piecemeal changes to the plan and to the Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 13
development regulations all of the time. But we're required by the law to do a comprehensive review every ten years. We will have to complete it by next year. And that's what we're working on. And the whole point of that is to -- not to -- the law doesn't require that you amend the plan every ten years. It only requires that you look at the plan and you look at the regulations every 10 years to see if they're still current, and if they aren't still current, if they aren't still valid and appropriate, based upon changing development, changing law and other things, then you identify what needs to be changed, and then you go through a process, either a study or an amendment which is separate from the re-examination itself. So we could always revisit this again if the Village feels it's appropriate. But for a number reasons, the timing of this, in part because of the need for the Village to adopt the new Housing Element of the Master Plan before the re-examination is completed, that this is critical –
MR. McCARTHY: I'm sorry. Did you use the word "necessity"?
MR. BRANCHEAU: By law, yes.
MR. McCARTHY: Okay.
MR. BRANCHEAU: The Supreme Court in March rendered a decision that said that for municipalities to comply with the Fair Housing Act, they're going to have to adopt a new Housing Element later this year, before 2016. So, like it or not -- and while some would like to -- I would like to wait certainly for the comprehensive review, the law doesn't allow us that luxury. So -- and this is directly linked to our housing plan, that's going to have to be adopted.
So, we really don't have a choice to wait for that comprehensive review in this case.
So -- but in any event, when we do that re-examination review, you always have the option, if we think this decision under that review was inappropriate, we can always change that at that time. It doesn't mean that we are locked into this. I'm not saying we will change it. I'm just saying that I don't see the duplicate effort to do this now to do that then. I don't know if that answers your question, but that's what I would say to you to your question. As to all the developers proposing rental units, my recollection is, is that the developer's expressed interest in rental, I think that's typically what's done in a downtown environment is rental.
That being said, the law, except in the case -- the law doesn't allow us to mandate rental or for-sale units. It doesn't tell you, for example, for your house, you have to live there. You can't rent it out. The law doesn't allow us that ability. And the same with this housing.
I do expect that most of it will be rental housing. Although, I do recollect in testimony that developers indicating that that was their plan and might want to change it to for-sale or condo housing later, and they will always have that option, except in the case of affordable units.
MR. McCARTHY: So, can I just ask a clarifying question? So, if we grant 35 --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
MR. McCARTHY: -- for-rental --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
MR. McCARTHY: -- when we would have granted 30 for-sale --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
MR. McCARTHY: -- and they decide to go Condo --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Right.
MR. McCARTHY: -- in that unit, they now have 35 units to sell as opposed to 30?
MR. BRANCHEAU: No, the only ones they can condo are the market rate units which they can always do because the law allows that.
The reason for that different density between for-sale and rental is the State's affordable housing laws require that we incentivize rental housing.
MR. McCARTHY: So, 25 to 30 would be a similar step?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes, it would.
MR. McCARTHY: Okay.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
And then on your last question about the B-3-R at the Station Motors' site, and I think you meant Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 14
any type of housing project in there, not just the B-3-R, but as to that location, that was looked at by the traffic consultant. It was -- by not just for the Board but the developers themselves and they agreed that the traffic could be accommodated there. They also indicated that the traffic in that location --
MR. McCARTHY: I'm sorry. I was referring to the aesthetic --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Oh, the aesthetic? Okay.
MR. McCARTHY: -- of a cliff as you go in and out of the underpass.
MR. BRANCHEAU: All right.
Well, I would suggest that that cliff could exist for both or as a result of a cliff in that sense, if that's how you want to characterize it.
MR. McCARTHY: Is it 0 setback now?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Right now, that is in the B-2 zone, I believe, and the setback in the B-2 zone is the setback of the adjacent building.
I don't know what the adjacent building is in that case.
MR. McCARTHY: The closest building to the street would be East Coast Burger, which is probably 25 feet back.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: No.
MS. PRICE: No.
MR. BRANCHEAU: No, there's a Thai restaurant, I think, that is between that and East Coast Burger. But I think -- yeah, Dim Sum, I think, is to the east of that.
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Sakura Bana.
FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: Sakura Bana on the corner.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Sakura Bana. And that's right up on the sidewalk.
FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: So, a building today could be built 45 feet tall, if it was commercial, 50 feet tall if it was with affordable housing and 0 setback, today if we -- if we deny this amendment, that would be the law. And then -- I forget what it says, as far as what was proposed there.
And the Village wants buildings right up on the sidewalk because it's always been part of the policy for the Village to have stores on the sidewalk to ensure and to encourage a pedestrian shopping environment. If stores were set back behind parking, it really isn't conducive to pedestrian shopping. And so the Village is trying to encourage stores to these setups.
So, as to the cliff, I mean, I could say the current zoning allows the cliff. And this, I don't think, is going to change that if you want to characterize it that way, as a cliff because that cliff was done by design, not be a mistake.
MR. McCARTHY: Okay.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Thank you, Mr. McCarthy --
MR. McCARTHY: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: -- for your questions.
I think if I can interject before we bring on the next question, I think it's a great time since you're asking to questions with regard to the impact on the affordable housing issue, Gail, perhaps what you can do is summarize that and also the letter to Michael referenced at the beginning of the meeting. So, let's go through that and then we'll resume the questions. It seems that there is a link with a lot of the questions.
MS. PRICE: So, as Blais referenced, as of March 10th of this year, things changed in the State when the Supreme Court issued its decision on affordable housing in New Jersey. And that impacts Ridgewood as it does all of the municipalities in the State of New Jersey.
The Court has -- basically, the third round regulations have been invalidated. The growth share methodology has been invalidated. And municipalities have been given a 30 day window, starting in June and ending in early July, to file what is known in legalese as a declaratory judgment action in the Superior Court of New Jersey.
Every town will be or should be filling that action. And that action will, in essence, be asking the Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 15
Court who will now be the trier of fact relative to affordable housing in New Jersey, unlike what was previously handled by the Council On Affordable Housing in Trenton. The Court will be in charge of affordable housing determinations. Municipalities will be asking the Court to basically allow them a period of up to five months, that's what the Supreme Court's opinion provides, up to five months to work on a housing plan that satisfies its fair share obligation under the Fair Housing Act.
That's a lot of words to try to understand, and the lot of things that need to happen.
But it basically means that municipalities, there are 60 or so municipalities that received third-round certification from either the Court or from COAH. There are 330 or so who are in the process of applying for third-round certification. And we're at some stage of that third-round certification, whether they had just submitted, whether they were in mediation, whether they were close to getting certification. And then the balance of the municipalities had done nothing relative to affordable housing.
Ridgewood falls in the middle group. We were in the process of mediation, had resolved successfully an objector status, and were dealing with a second objector to our plan. And we weren't able to successfully resolve that to obtain certification before the clock ran out, and because the rules of the game changed.
So, in essence, what needs to happen is every town needs to come up with a plan, how they're going to satisfy their obligation and tell the Court what available, suitable, realistic sites exist in their municipality to satisfy their individual obligation.
That's where reasonable minds are going to differ because the only set of numbers that exist as of today are the numbers that have been issued by the Fair Share Housing Center. And that's the group that was referenced earlier by Michael, who have issued a set of municipal obligation numbers for every municipality in the State.
And those numbers include present need, basically, what's your present need for low and moderate income housing? What's your prior round obligation? And prior round covers the time period from 1987 to 1990. And what is your prospective need for affordable housing, which takes us out to the year 2025. I hope I'm retired by then.
And what you need to do is there's a mathematical equation that you add those three numbers together. But let me just say, our prospective need alone, just the third column that has been assigned to Ridgewood, is 896 affordable units. Blais, what's is the prior round, 200 and --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Two-twenty-nine.
MS. PRICE: Two-twenty-nine.
So, when you do that math, Ridgewood's number very quickly exceeds a thousand affordable units. Everybody understands that that's highly unlikely and not realistic. But every municipality, whether your numbers are in the hundreds or upwards of a thousand -- there's a thousand cap by the way, in that third column.
But, it's up to a municipality to come up with a plan to satisfy that. We have been told by the Fair Share Housing Center that they are watching Ridgewood very closely and that they want this Board and the governing body to ensure that Ridgewood's doing the right thing in terms of complying. They sent this letter which -- let me just -- I think it should just be read. It's only two paragraphs.
It's directed to the Mayor, the Chairman, and the Planning Board members.
"I am writing to urge the Village of Ridgewood when considering the Proposed Amendment to the Master Plan on May 2, 2015, to take steps that will assist the municipality meeting it's very substantial unmet Affordable Housing obligations. The law has long required Ridgewood to encourage inclusionary redevelopment, but the Supreme Court's March 10th, 2015 decision places a renewed focus on ensuring that municipalities meet their obligations in an expeditious fashion. This is especially important for lower income families who are priced out of Ridgewood's high cost housing market and priced out of much of Bergen County. Waitresses and diners and clerks in Ridgewood's commercial district deserve a chance to live in high Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 16
opportunity towns like Ridgewood. Our calculations of Ridgewood's third-round regional housing obligations indicate that Ridgewood has a third-round obligation of 896 units on top of its earlier substantially unmet prior round obligation. In this context, Ridgewood has an obligation to approve reasonable redevelopment proposals like the ones currently under consideration. Further, as we have previously discussed with Mayor Aronsohn, a 20 percent set aside of affordable housing is required by N.J.A.C. 5:93-5.6(b)1 in those developments. We further suggest the Village require very low income housing in those redevelopment projects to assist it in meeting the statutory 13 percent requirement for very low income housing. Our goal continues to be to ensure that our concerns are addressed without the need for adversarial proceedings. Thank you for your attention to this matter." And it's signed by Kevin D. Walsh, Executive Director of the Fair Share Housing Center. And Fair Share Housing Center's located at Cherry Hill. And the Fair Share Housing Center was the successful litigant in the Supreme Court's March 10th decision that changed the rules of the game.
So when Blais answers your questions as to the relevancy of affordable housing vis-à-vis the re-exam and vis-à-vis this amendment process, it's taken on a different characteristic in connection with the Supreme Court's opinion because the Board needs to pay attention to the mandate that the Supreme Court has issued, and how that mandate will not only play into what's before the Board now, but what will then play into the bigger picture of the bigger examination that will need to occur Village-wide in terms of satisfaction of the ultimate number that's come up with as the housing obligation.
And just I should say, there's data for 20 percent set aside. Blais and I are confident that the number is 15 percent set aside, but there's also some other numbers. There is a 13 percent requirement, very low income housing, and 50 percent of the municipality's obligation has to be family housing. And by family housing, that doesn't mean housing with families. It means housing that is not otherwise restricted. So "otherwise restricted" by age or by special needs. It has to be satisfied through the use of regular housing, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, three-bedroom. And those units need to be -- those units in a particular development need to satisfy the regulation with a mandatory bedroom distribution. So, while Blais is absolutely accurate that we can't mandate rental or market rate units in developments, what needs to happen is in any affordable component that those affordable units comply with regulations.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Thank you, Gail.
Okay. So, we're going to continue now with that information with any questions for Blais.
Come forward, stand at the mic, provide your names, spell it and your address, please.
MR. SLOMIN: Dave Slomin, S-L-O-M-I-N, 36 Heights Road.
Blais, I have a question on that density as it relates to that amendment revision, where the original Amendment to the Master Plan started was, I think, you know, the range 40 to 50 units an acre, and we know that that was -- those were numbers requested by the developers, by the Applicants, to revise the plan. I know that folks in Citizens for a Better Ridgewood were asked a while back by one of the developers if, as a compromise, they would accept a number maybe around 30 to 35. And it's interesting that the -- you know, the Applicants original numbers were in the original amendment. A number that was requested as a compromise as to whether that would suit the needs of CBR is in this revised amendment. But all along, I think that a lot of members of the public and Citizens For a Better Ridgewood have been asking for a number more along the range of 20 to 25, in that range. I'd like to know, did you ever consider 20 to 25? Let's use 25 as the number. Can you still consider that? And if, obviously, that's not the number, why is that not the number? Which is still 100 percent more than what our current zoning calls for.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Is that your only question?
MR. SLOMIN: That's one question.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Well, if you have three, you should ask them all right now.
MR. SLOMIN: I figured that one was confusing enough. Okay. Next question relates to the Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 17
Master Plan Amendment we're doing now, the need for the Master Plan Re-Examination in 2016 and the fact that we're looking at a whole bunch of zones here. There's also a redevelopment zone that's being separately considered by the Village Council that I don't believe is in front of the Planning Board which may result in a parking garage which could be obviously a good thing, but also to get that parking garage could have a large assisted living complex on the corner of Franklin and Walnut which, as I'm told, might be upwards of 100 units and 70 feet high. I mean, correct me if I'm wrong. But, to me, that's -- that's more housing units, it's more ambulances, cars, visitors in the downtown. It seems to fall into the concept of Master Planning and as our Village Planner, I guess it's a rhetorical question, shouldn't that be part of an overall comprehensive plan that Citizens For a Better Ridgewood has been asking for since day one? And why is that not part of this review process? I think I got an easy one after that. MS. PRICE: That question assumes that it wasn't before the Planning Board, correct?
MR. SLOMIN: My assumption, I know it's in front of the Council now so I don't think the assisted living center is being considered by the Planning Board presently.
MR. BRANCHEAU: I can answer that when the time comes.
MR. SLOMIN: Okay.
And the last one just a clarification it wasn't really my third question. I thought at the beginning of the meeting you said to the Board that you, in making -- in revising these amendments, you did not incorporate the public comments as they were made at some of the earlier meetings. Is that true or did I mishear that?
MS. PRICE: I think he said he incorporated the Board and the public comments.
MR. SLOMIN: He did, the Board and the public, okay. That's good. All right.
I guess the last question is: Again, we are revising numbers, we're changing height. Is there a way in all this, again, as I think Mr. Reilly has asked, you know, to guard against, you know, just boxes right on the street to make sure that there is, you know, positive aesthetics to all this in whatever numbers we come up with.
MR. BRANCHEAU: First question regarding whether we considered other than those two figures and whether the 20 to 25 was considered or could be considered.
Actually, we did consider and did adopt a housing plan in 2008 for the former Brogan Cadillac site and adjacent properties that had a maximum density of 25 when they have three acres. You heard the Board attorney refer to an objection being filed to that plan by that property owner or developers that were working with that property owner. One, their bases for the objection was that the density was too low. I personally feel that the density -- at that density, that the economics would be difficult to achieve and to provide for affordable housing, and to get the level of development that -- the quality of development that the Village is looking for.
So, while I think, yes, of course it's considerable, and for the reasons stated before I didn't view density as necessarily a bad thing but as a good thing with limits. It wouldn't achieve some of the purposes as much as the higher density that is proposed would achieve. So, for those reasons, while 25 is certainly considerable, it's not my recommendation.
MR. SLOMIN: What did you use to determine that that was not a --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Let me answer -- let me answer --
MR. SLOMIN: -- a financially --
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- the next question first please?
MR. SLOMIN: -- a financially viable number?
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- because we're getting into multiple questions.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Yes, answer the questions.
MR. BRANCHEAU: The second question related to other planning efforts and whether, for example, the Walnut Street Redevelopment Plan should have been considered. The Planning Board, in fact, prepared the Walnut Street Redevelopment Plan and recommended it to the Council when it was adopted. So, this Board is not ignorant of what that plan allows and doesn't allow. And I don't want to get into a whole debate on that plan because that's not the subject of Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 18
this hearing, but only to say that this Board is cognizant of that plan and prepared that plan and sent it to the Village Council. If and when that plan is ever implemented, it will come back to this Board for a site plan review, and the Board will see it again, so...
MS. PETERS: Charles, I have to ask Blais, I didn't understand what he just said here. Did he just say that we prepared a proposal?
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: The Planning Board.
MS. PRICE: The Redevelopment Plan.
MR. BRANCHEAU: The Planning Board --
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Maybe you can provide the background.
MR. BRANCHEAU: The process of that was started back --
MS. PETERS: That was prior to my being here?
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Yes, it was.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
MS. PETERS: And Wendy Dockray, that goes back several years ago?
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: So actually, I'm going to offer clarification on that.
The North Walnut Redevelopment Zone Plan was approximately 2006 or 2007, would that be about correct, Blais?
MR. BRANCHEAU: The original plan, the amendment was, I believe, either last year or the year before.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: So in February of 2014, there was an amendment proposed for comment from the Planning Board regarding the addition of assisted living facility as a modification to the North Walnut Redevelopment Zone. That came before this Board, I believe you were a member at the time.
MS. PETERS: Yes.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: For comment.
MS. PETERS: Yes, right.
MS. DOCKRAY: That's correct.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: Those changes, which had no density assigned to those --
MS. PETERS: Correct.
MS. DOCKRAY: Right.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: -- to that particular item, was -- came here for comment and then went to Council and was adopted as part of the North Walnut Redevelopment Zone Plan.
So, that you necessarily prepared that plan, I think Blais prepared the plan and asked the Board for comment. But I think there were a lot of varying comments to that and might be prudent to just review the material to bring yourself up-to-date on that.
MR. BRANCHEAU: There were obviously differing opinions on the plan.
MS. PETERS: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: This Board -- the plan was prepared with discussion by the Planning Board and, ultimately, the majority of the Board recommended that plan to Village Council.
So -- and that was within the last two years while this process --
MS. PETERS: Are you talking about last year, Blais?
MR. BRANCHEAU: I don't remember the exact date. I don't have it in front of me, but --
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: It was actually March 17, 2014.
MS. PETERS: That's last year.
MR. BRANCHEAU: But the point -- the point I'm trying to say, to answer your question, is that that happened while this process was ongoing. This started -- this process actually started before that amendment was adopted, before that amendment was considered by this Board.
So, they were done concurrently. They weren't finished concurrently, but they were certainly being studied concurrently.
MR. SLOMIN: But I believe the crux of my question was: As a planner, do you believe it's prudent to really, now with all we know, combine them and look at them together? Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 19
MR. BRANCHEAU: I don't think so personally. The redevelopment thing -- plan, the redevelopment plan, the reason for the assisted living was for different reasons than for this. And I don't think that whether it's assisted living or whether it's commercial development, both of those would generate some traffic, although assisted living would generate far, far less traffic than commercial development would in the same location; far, far less than multifamily housing would generate in the same location; far, far less than -- it would generate no school children. It would generate little demand for parking which commercial development and regular housing development would need far more parking to reduce the amount of public parking that would be provided in the redevelopment area, which is one of the primary goals in the redevelopment.
So, the reason for the assisted living would be that it could provide some type of commercial or non-residential -- I shouldn't say, some type of non-public development in the redevelopment area, without all the intensive impacts that other types of development would in the same location. So, because of that, I don't really view the issues with that amendment as really relevant development to what's being considered by the Board now. I think they're totally separate.
MR. SLOMIN: Okay. I'd like to recall my third question and ask a different third question; can I do that?
MS. PRICE: I just want Blais to finish answering --
MR. SLOMIN: Okay.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Let me answer the aesthetic question.
MR. SLOMIN: Yeah, well, that's the one I want to recall as -- unless you allow me to --
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: You will have an opportunity to ask your additional question after we hear --
MR. SLOMIN: If you'll allow me to ask an additional question, then I -- I'm all for this one then.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: That's fine now, unless somebody else has a question?
MR. BRANCHEAU: The plan continues to require aesthetic treatment to both roofs and facades, to avoid the box thing, so that wasn't changed.
MR. SLOMIN: Okay. So my third -- 3B --
MS. PRICE: That's three.
MR. SLOMIN: No. But I wanted to take that one off the table, so I could ask a third.
MS. PRICE: You'll have to come back after other people have their questions.
MR. SLOMIN: I asked before he answered it, can I -- can I have him not answer that.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: You have to come back.
MS. PRICE: You have to come back.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Yo have to come back after everybody has had a chance to ask their questions.
MR. SLOMIN: Except it has to a question he just answered.
FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: Let him ask the question.
MR. SLOMIN: Can I please ask --
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: How many more people have questions, raise your hands just so I can get an idea. (Audience Indicating.)
FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: I might have one.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Okay.
MR. SLOMIN: Okay. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: One question and then we have to move to the next person.
MR. SLOMIN: Blais, you mentioned as far as the reason you determined that the -- I guess, the developers or owners of the Brogan site, we'll call it the Brogan site, were not happy with the 25 units per acre that was originally specked, and you said you personally felt that that is not a number that was economically feasible. I'd like to know what specifically, and I mean specifically as you can, did you use to determine that that was not economically feasible? Do you know what they paid for the land? What cap rate did you use? What kind of return on Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 20
investment did you use to base that judgment on that 25 wouldn't work?
MS. PRICE: Wait a minute, Blais. That question is not part of this record in terms of the amendments that have been changed, that are pending before the Board tonight.
MR. SLOMIN: But -- well, it is because you've proposed 35 because that's economically feasible. I asked why isn't 25 economically feasible.
MS. PRICE: No, that's not what he testified. That's your question. And the testimony relative to the 25 relates to the objection before the Council on Affordable Housing. So, we're not going to get involved in the terms of all the objection and the elements of that objection, and mediation with COAH, tonight because that's not part of this amendment. So, you know, your question and I think we started the questions off with why did it go from 30 or 40 to 50, down to 30 to 40 or 30 to 35. That's a relevant question, but why the 25 is not economically feasible, then I --
MR. SLOMIN: Well, then why is 35 the lowest economically feasible number? I think that's a relevant question.
MS. PRICE: I don't think he testified by economic feasibility on 35.
MR. SLOMIN: I'm not going to -- I a hundred percent disagree with you --
MS. PRICE: There is no --
MR. SLOMIN: -- but I'm not going to push it further.
MS. PRICE: There is no -- no, but we just want to make the record clear that there's no economic feasibility testimony by Mr. Brancheau.
MR. SLOMIN: But he just said that he determined that level was not economically feasible.
MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: He just said it. He just said it in front of everybody.
MS. PETERS: He uses that language.
MR. BRANCHEAU: I did not --
MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: He used it.
MR. BRANCHEAU: I did not state --
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Let him clarify.
MR. BRANCHEAU: I said that based upon the prior objection, all right, that the only -- the only valid basis that would be acceptable in my opinion for that in the context of the Village of Ridgewood is that that would not be economically feasible. Do I have proof? No. So I said I suspect. I never said I determined that it was not economically feasible.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Please come forward. Come up, state and spell your name, provide your address. You can ask the three questions that you have.
MS. ANGUS: Felicia Angus, A-N-G-U-S, 82 Fairmount Road.
I'm so now confused. I guess the questions have to do with the economic feasibility of 35 in terms of affordable housing. I need to understand the affordable housing. And I appreciate what you did before because I had heard all these crazy numbers and those are crazy numbers.
So, what I'd like to know is with these developments, how many of those apartments are actually considered affordable housing, would fall under that $1,000.00 -- 1,000 unit mark? Would the assisted living, does that fall under that? And then how do we -- worst case scenario, we're on the line for a thousand units. I guess I'm assuming that whatever we have already doesn't count?
MS. PRICE: No, no. It would go -- whatever we have could go towards the --
MS. ANGUS: The 1,000 units --
MS. PRICE: -- demonstrating the middle number that I've gone through before on a prior round --
MS. ANGUS: So what do we have already?
MS. PRICE: -- obligation.
MR. BRANCHEAU: I'll answer.
MS. PRICE: Yeah, Blais can go through that.
MS. ANGUS: Okay. So that's where my confusion lay is -- that's what I'd like to know. What these guys add to -- Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 21
MS. PRICE: Right.
MS. ANGUS: -- our value in terms of the COAH obligations and then where do we actually place the rest of them?
MS. PRICE: Well, I don't know if that question is going to be able to be answered --
MR. BRANCHEAU: I'm not going to --
MS. PRICE: -- because that's going to be going forward.
But, if -- I think the good question that I think you're asking is, the number that Mr. Brancheau gave before of the maximum, if all of these sites were built out, and they were -- I think you said 256 units were built, what would be the affordable housing unit production out of that 256, how many affordable housing units would the Village realize at the 15 percent set aside number that I referenced.
Is that --
MS. ANGUS: Yes.
MS. PRICE: -- your question?
MS. ANGUS: Yes.
MS. PRICE: Okay. So, taking the 256, Blais, and --
MR. BRANCHEAU: I have -- I have those figures.
MS. PRICE: -- and 15 percent.
MR. BRANCHEAU: All right.
The first question was if they build rental projects, I believe, that the set aside would be 15 percent of the total number. If they build for-sale units, we're talking about only affordable, they could do whatever they want with the market rate units we cannot mandate that they do rental or sale, just like you can't mandate how you have your home whether you live in it or whether you rent it out. But we can mandate it when it comes to affordable housing -- we can't actually -- we can't mandate, all we can do is encourage it. Once it's built, we can require that it be deed restricted to stay rental. So someone can't do the bait and switch that was someone suggested earlier. They get the density bonus, so that they can build --
MS. ANGUS: So they can't. If they -- if they tell you they're building a rental, it has to stay a rental.
MR. BRANCHEAU: It has -- for the affordable units. They can change the market rate units at any time they want.
MS. ANGUS: So they can do a bait and switch, right?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Well, but remember the density that we're talking about, the increased density for rental units is designed to encourage the production of affordable rental units; that's what they're doing, and they're getting that density to do that.
But, in return, they have to deed restrict those units, to stay with those units.
MS. PRICE: So, taking the 256 --
MS. ANGUS: Okay. So that sounds like --
MS. PRICE: -- then the 15 percent set aside.
MS. ANGUS: Okay. So that sounds like 40.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Going back to the 256, okay, if every project in the green, yellow and red areas on that map (indicating) were developed at their maximum density under this as rental housing, there would be a 15 percent set aside, which would produce 38 affordable units for all -- for all four properties.
MS. ANGUS: And the assisted living doesn't count?
MR. BRANCHEAU: The assisted living -- my understanding, the assisted living under a separate requirement, under federal financing requirements, would produce ten percent of those assisted living units would have to be affordable.
MS. ANGUS: And how many is that?
MR. BRANCHEAU: I think the number is in the 90s, so ten percent would be nine --
MS. ANGUS: So, we're not even talking 50 yet, right? Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 22
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- nine or ten affordable units.
So, that -- if they do for-sale, 20 percent set aside in that case would result in 51 affordable units. Obviously, neither of those numbers with or without the assisted living is going to bring the Village anywhere within the moon of achieving compliance with the statutory requirement as calculated under the second round obligation.
MS. ANGUS: So --
MR. BRANCHEAU: So, to answer your question, I think that answers all three. As to how we're going to satisfy that, I don't feel we can satisfy it.
MS. PRICE: But that will be something that the Village will be looking at down the road in connection with your other proceeding, correct?
MR. BRANCHEAU: It would essentially have to make a best effort to do what it can.
MS. PRICE: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: And that's what we will be looking at when you start working at the housing.
MS. ANGUS: And the State wouldn't say, well, you know that we had -- you had this number, but you okayed these other housing projects, so somehow you have to figure it out?
MR. BRANCHEAU: I'm not sure I understood your question.
MS. ANGUS: Well, I mean, you're basically saying, we're going to put blinders on and hope for the best. So, my fear is that we okay all this extra housing, and then we're still going to be on -- you know, on the Board for all the rest of it as well. So, I guess my fear is that, as a Planning Board, you guys have to be taking all these numbers into account. It can't just because these guys got here before the State did --
MR. BRANCHEAU: No, here's --
MS. ANGUS: -- that we can pretend it doesn't exist.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Here's -- the State operates in what is known as rounds. With each round, it recalculates the number. The first two rounds were six-year periods. The last round now is, I think, up to 25 years long. We prepared a housing plan in the third round. In the second round, we prepared a housing plan. At that time, the number was 229 units. And I didn't answer one part of the question, is what do we have now? What we have today, we have 129 affordable units at Ridgecrest, that's operated by Bergen County Housing Authority. We have four units on South Broad Street. We have four units on Hunter Place (phonetic). We have 10 special needs unit on South Broad Street. And we have a smattering of other units in group homes. Basically special needs housing, a handful of units. So I'm going to say that if you add all those together, you're going to end up with something around 150 to 160 that we have today. So, even if our prospective third round obligation was 0, we would still have an obligation of 229 units versus 150 to 160. So we'd have a deficit still of 70 to 80 units to satisfy the second round.
The State in its infinite wisdom said, oh, the Village of Ridgewood can't meet the second round obligation, let's give them another 900 to meet. Okay? So, with all due respect, it's -- it's ridiculous. And yet it's the law. So write your legislators, try to get them to see the light on this because there's no way the Village can accommodate that without completely redeveloping the municipality. That being said, they're going to expect we do our best. So what we're doing here is part of doing our best. But that's not the only reason for what we're doing here.
MS. ANGUS: When you had -- and I will sit down after this, but when you had mentioned 25 versus 35 in terms of density, you sort of made it sound as if that had a lot to do with the COAH.
What is the difference between 25 units and 35 units in terms of that extra COAH housing?
MR. BRANCHEAU: I think you're talking about maybe a difference of 10 affordable units if you were to do 25.
MS. ANGUS: So it's not that much.
MR. BRANCHEAU: No, it isn't.
MS. ANGUS: Okay. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Are there other members of the public who have questions of Blais with regard to his testimony tonight? Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 23
MS. PRICE: Mr. Weiner, you're not handle this?
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Yeah.
MS. BOURQUE: This is in relation to affordable housing, which is separate.
MR. WEINER: I wasn't intending to call her as a witness. If I need do that now, or let her -- she's got, I think, just a question.
MS. PRICE: Just getting clear, since she's -- you're representing her.
MR. WEINER: Yeah, I am, but I'm...
MS. BOURQUE: Do you need my name again?
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: This is a question.
MS. BOURQUE: Amy Bourque, 133 Sheridan Terrace.
Yes, I have a question for Blais. I just want to refer to this map here (indicating).
Mr. Brancheau, in the name of affordable --
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Could you speak very loud because the mic --
MS. BOURQUE: Okay. I'm sorry.
I'm curious why you moved these zones because in an effort to show that we're genuinely addressing these properties (indicating), the affordable housing needs, it would seem that this entire zone going down to here (indicating), you know, it's showing a good effort towards addressing it, we could include that possibly. I'm just -- I'm wondering -- I read the -- in the New Jersey Law Journal, Ed Buzak in the New Jersey Law Journal, I read his position on showing a good effort towards addressing it. And you mentioned special needs housing. We own this public property down here (indicating). If we could have -- I'm just curious why we're not looking at this property more.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Well, I think --
MS. BOURQUE: Why you moved it?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Is that your only question?
MS. BOURQUE: Yes, it is.
I'll sit down.
MR. BRANCHEAU: The State, believe it or not, in its regulations even includes a statement that says that a municipality -- it cannot meet it's -- what the normal rule is, is that you look for sites that are either vacant and readily developable for housing or where you have developers waiting in the wings saying, we'll tear down what's there and build affordable housing. And it assumes, of course, that the location is a suitable location, that you're not putting, you know, a housing project in the middle of the interchange, in the middle of wetlands and things like that. When a municipality, despite its best efforts to identify which properties -- and I can assure you were did this in 2008, we found very little that was out there, the State then says, okay, we recognize you don't have vacant developable suitable land for such housing. We expect now that you look at areas that might be redeveloped in the future, and that you zone for those. So that when they redevelop, the zoning is already in place, and you can require that the housing be built at that time. It doesn't -- the State's regulations say the municipality may rezone the entire municipality to an overlay zone.
Now, maybe in some municipalities that makes sense. I can't' -- it's hard to imagine, but I don't think it makes sense in most of the municipalities. It certainly doesn't make sense in the Village of Ridgewood to do that. So, bringing it back down, does it make sense to rezone the entire C Zone for that? Part of the problem with doing that is that it would -- it could possibly happen in a piecemeal fashion. And I don't think that would be good planning, where you could now do a small piece here -- and I think to get a better coordinated development, one -- one of the reasons we have the minimum lot size of one acre is that we don't get a hodgepodge of small housing projects that aren't coordinated with their parking layouts or their access or their architectural design.
So, part of the problem with rezoning the rest of the C Zone for that is that: A, it would be difficult or impossible for people to accumulate land to do that. And if it did, now you'd have a Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 24
small little housing project next to a commercial project, maybe another small one and then you'd have a really difficult situation. So, -- oh, and part of it is the Village owns its fleet garage at the end of Chestnut Street and so forth. So it's -- and you have a utility station. You have the Y. And, although I'm not saying that every use in the C Zone needs to go, some -- some could probably go, some certainly need to be upgraded, some uses actually serve peoples' needs.
The YMCA, for example, is partially in the C Zone, but it serves a need in the community. Auto body shops that are at the northern end of the C Zone serve as -- certainly the Village's fleet garage serves a need that's there. The utility station that's there serves a need. West Bergen Mental Health serves a need for special needs populations. So, a lot of the remaining uses in the C Zone are addressing community needs. So, there's a number of reasons why I wouldn't necessarily recommend rezoning the whole C Zone for housing development. I know there's some...
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Okay. Thank you, Blais.
Last call for questions of Blais with regard to his testimony tonight.
MS. PRICE: Same question. Mr. Bruinooge, you're -- Mr. Saraceno's flying solo?
MR. BRUINOOGE: Yup. I see him.
MR. SARACENO: Yes, he does.
Blais, two questions, one is --
MS. PRICE: State your name for the record.
MR. SARACENO: John Saraceno, 17 Coventry Court, Ridgewood, New Jersey.
There was a comment made earlier -- and I just to understand from a calculus perspective if I'm right, There was a comment made earlier that there was support for 25 units to the acre when it was 10.86, which I think equals 271 units total that could be built; is that correct?
MR. BRANCHEAU: I never did the math on that, but it sounds right.
MR. SARACENO: I just did it.
And then if it's 35 units to the acre with 7.3 acres, a total of developable land, that's 256 units?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Correct.
MR. SARACENO: So that would be 15 less units developable for residential use in the downtown?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Correct.
MR. SARACENO: Second question is: With regard to the way COAH regs and the Court ruling, isn't it really about the number of credits that Ridgewood gets relative to the 38 units, and not necessarily the number of units that are built?
MR. BRANCHEAU: That is correct.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Blais, wait --
MR. SARACENO: That's it. I'm done.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Blais, let John ask his questions.
MR. SARACENO: That's it. I'm finished.
MR. BRANCHEAU: That is correct that there -- in certain circumstances, bonus credits are granted for units, so -- you know, the -- the obligation which is a number is not necessarily the same as the number of units. It's possible to satisfy the obligation with lesser units. But I think the general, overall conclusion is that with the number at roughly 1100 units, the maximum there could ever be -- and I don't even think this is achievable -- would be a one for one bonus.
MR. SARACENO: Uh-huh.
MR. BRANCHEAU: So that would still meet an obligation of over 550 affordable units, assuming every unit was given that one and one bonus, which is, I think, not allowed.
But -- so -- but the bottom line is the number of affordable units is likely to be or hopefully to be less than the obligation, but still there a very significant and practically unachievable number.
MR. SARACENO: Understood.
Thank you. Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 25
MS. PRICE: Can I just translate that a little bit because I saw some puzzled looks, that there's an available rental bonus. Blais, that's what you were talking about that the regs provide for, that if a project does rental units, for instance, you could get a two for one credit, but there's a cap on that, correct, on the overall number?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
It depends on whether they're age restricted or not.
MS. PRICE: Okay.
MR. BRANCHEAU: There's bonuses for developments in Smart Growth areas and so forth.
MS. PRICE: Okay.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Okay. Thank you, Blais.
At this time then, do you have another question?
MR. SLOMIN: I have another question.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: It is just one?
MR. SLOMIN: It is, I only have one.
MS. PRICE: State your name.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: You have to state your name again.
MR. SLOMIN: Dave Slomin, 36 Heights Road. Might be one or two.
Blais, when the zone was originally ten and, I guess, .3 acres?
MR. BRANCHEAU: It was 10.86.
MR. SLOMIN: 10.86 acres, there were -- there were several parcels in the middle that were eliminated for those two acres that were taken out that I believe you said really weren't prime for development now or as you see it any time in the near future that's the power station, West Bergen Mental Health, and I believe another -- another parcel there; is that correct?
MR. BRANCHEAU: That's correct.
MR. SLOMIN: So you don't really think that they would be developed now or any time in the near future?
MR. BRANCHEAU: I don't think so.
MR. SLOMIN: Okay. So those numbers -- those units probably wouldn't be added to that total any time that you can see?
MR. BRANCHEAU: No, I think I said in a prior portion of the hearing that people wanted to know what was the worse case scenario --
MR. SLOMIN: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- if everything was developed, what the number would be.
And I said I don't agree with the worst case scenario, but for -- to answer your question, that's what it would be, it's 10.86 times 50 units per acre. And I gave it also at 30 units per acre which was the minimum -- minimum/maximum in the range. But I never believed, and I still don't believe, that all of the units, even under this scenario, all of the acreage will be developed.
I think that the number that would be developed would be less because there's some properties in these zones that don't meet the minimum one acre lot size. And the only way they could be developed would be if they were acquired and merged with an adjacent property to form more than an acre. So even the 256 that I've cited tonight, under the proposal, would only be achievable if, for example, the Brake-A-Rama site were to be demolished and bought to made part of the adjacent property. And even if -- and for the full number to be achieved, the -- there are several properties on Chestnut Street that have to be acquired and merged with the Station Motors property to get to the one acre minimum. So, whether that's realistic or not, I don't think it is. So the 256 would actually be less.
MR. SLOMIN: So another resident made a comment that you might end at the full 10.86 acres at 25 units an acre or 271.
If you were at 25 units an acre as opposed to 35, you probably wouldn't see that 271 because these properties are really got prime for development.
MR. BRANCHEAU: No. Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 26
And, again, it's an apples and apples comparison. It's looking at the scenario. If every property was developed at the maximum density, then those are what the numbers would be. If every property isn't developed or the property isn't developed at the maximum, then the numbers are obviously going down. And I think that's the most likely to happen, is that the numbers are going to be less than what I've quoted. But, again, to make a fair comparison of a maximum to maximum, that's the amount.
MR. SLOMIN: Okay. Thank you.
MS. PRICE: Blais, can I just ask a follow up on that because since we're focusing on Chestnut Street, the Supreme Court's opinion and the need for nonspeculative actions to be taken by this Board and other boards and governing bodies, does that play into your opinion in terms of the amendment that's pending before the Board tonight more than the prior amendment and the exclusion of those properties, the power station and West Bergen and the office buildings?
So whether you play number games or not and the units -- you know, the unit count sounds like it's the same, isn't it, in fact, that the Court is going to be looking very carefully at whether properties are realistically going to be built.
MR. BRANCHEAU: I think they will, yes.
I think they'll be looking at that and they will be looking at properties that they feel may redevelop in the future. So, for example, if we include the Brake-O-Rama site, if we include those Chestnut properties, there is some potential, maybe they'll look at that. If they view them as unrealistic, they probably won't accept them towards our obligation. If they view them as -- as realistic, then they will.
MS. PRICE: Okay.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Why don't we move on, if there are no further questions from the public, to Counsel.
Ira, do you have cross-examination or questions for Blais?
MR. WEINER: Well, I -- having not been here the last couple of times, in light of the hour, I'd ask to defer that. I thought the Board was -- normally, this was not the procedure the Board would ask questions first. And in my finding, I find sometimes that they cover a lot of what I wanted to cover. So I might curtail it, if you don't mind.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: So you're going to pass on that?
MR. WEINER: Yeah. I don't expect I'm going to have a lot anyway.
But after hearing this tonight, I want to like kind of think about whether or not I may even want to go down certain roads to ask Blais some questions.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Mr. Bruinooge?
MR. BRUINOOGE: No questions at this time.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Mr. Wells?
MR. WELLS: No questions.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: At this time, I would like to ask the Members of the Board if they have questions for Blais given his testimony this evening.
Let's start on my right with Nancy.
MS. BIGOS: I don't have any questions.
Thank you, Blais.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Susan?
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: Blais, certainly you said that the B-3-R zone that you changed the one property from C-R to B-3-R because of the similarities in The Enclave and essentially more downtown.
Was that an accurate statement?
MR. BRANCHEAU: That's accurate.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: So did you find that the traffic conditions and what -- I mean, I'm just trying to wrap my head around what testimony was provided that -- other than the fact that they're similar because they're more downtown, what would have been evidence that was Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 27
provided that made you think that those two were similar in traffic and -- and just pedestrian traffic, et cetera. What -- how were they -- could you just define, I guess, how they're similar?
MR. BRANCHEAU: I think the traffic and the pedestrian activity levels would be comparable whether it was C-R or B-3-R. It was more related to the other bulk regulations than it was to traffic activity because again, keep in mind, the density is the same. And the density and floor area ratio requirements are the same. So they would basically allow the same level of development and the same level of development, the same type of development, generally the same type of traffic, whether it's vehicular or pedestrian.
So, it wasn't for those considerations that I felt the zone would be better as a B-3-R. It was more the setbacks and the coverage issues.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: Okay. Did you ever feel that either of those particular properties was -- and I asked this question at our last meeting, did you feel that one of those two properties was more conducive to the density levels than the other?
MR. BRANCHEAU: I'm not sure I understand the question, more conducive to the density levels?
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: Well, just the area, itself, was one property area located in an area that was more conducive to higher density and could absorb more of that level of density and traffic that would be coming with it? Was one of those properties just better capable of handling a higher density where one might have been better off with a lower density?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Well, I think that -- there's a lot of factors to consider in looking at that. The zones currently allow the same height. They allow similar coverage. They allow similar floor areas, similar -- similar setbacks. So --
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: Well, they're the same?
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- from that perspective, the density was fairly equal.
From a traffic perspective both, I think, have traffic issues that will have to be addressed as part of any site plan. Both have advantages and disadvantages from a traffic perspective. The southern end is closer to a heavily travelled road, but it's also at a traffic signal so it has a little more traffic control than the Chestnut Street site. The Chestnut Street site, while it's more remote from the heavily traveled area, is also on a narrower street, and is more likely to generate traffic that's going to go in a direction. So, there's pros and cons from both from a traffic perspective. And -- but, again the traffic issues were all reviewed and neither of the properties were determined, even at the higher densities, to create a traffic condition that was considered unacceptable by traffic standards. So, I did not, from that perspective, feel that the density should be different for the two sites.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: Okay. I thought I understood you, and I may have misunderstood what you said earlier.
But I understood earlier that you said the property that was removed from this CR-2 zone --
MR. BRANCHEAU: C-R Zone.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: CR-2.
MR. BRANCHEAU: There's no CR-2.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: I mean, the C-R Zone.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: So, the property was actually removed from that zone.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: I understood you earlier to say that you removed the properties to not shift too much housing.
Did I understand that accurately?
MR. BRANCHEAU: The sense I got from the Board was that they felt that if all of this were to be developed for housing, it might be too much. It might shift too much of the land use mix in the area towards housing and away from commercial. So, by taking those out from that mix, that prevented that from happening in that location. Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 28
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: But then in another moment, I thought I understood you to say that it wasn't feasible for those to be developed. Did I -- again, did I misunderstand that?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Right, I said -- I said I don't view it likely --
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: Likely.
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- if it were -- if -- if, for example, that three-story office building and West Bergen and the power station were to get together and demolish everything and rebuild, then it could happen. I don't think it's likely.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: I wanted to go to first one quick comment. I think that Mr. Slomin may have asked earlier about the boxy buildings and the architectural detail. But in all of the three separate zones, it only reads that a flat roof should be discouraged. It doesn't say they're prohibited; is that correct?
MR. BRANCHEAU: That's correct.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: Okay. So is that something you would be interested in changing?
MR. BRANCHEAU: When we -- I did not get into a lot of detail with the Master Plan on this.
My intent was when we get to an ordinance, we're clearly going to need to do that.
And, for example, one way we could do that would be to say that we could give a -- a limited height exception to provide for a different roof. Not to increase floor area, not to increase density, but to provide for a more attractive building.
There are provisions in the code today that, for example, allows a limited exceeding of the maximum height for things such as a cupola, such as an pediment or something like that. It's limited. And it's for that purpose.
We will -- I would imagine if this gets to an ordinance, that we would review that again and we would strengthen that to achieve that objective. But I didn't want to get bogged down with details for purposes of the Master Plan.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: So my other questions were relative to the floor area ratio.
By my calculations, the difference between when we -- we'll just take, for instance, the AH-2 zone and the rental. I'm only -- I'm going to focus for this purpose only on the rental component.
So we went from what was essentially a 56,628 square foot potential to a 60,984 potential maximum now in this new plan and the only difference between that was 65,340 to 69,600, so it wasn't -- on that one, it was a much significant -- much more significant difference than the changes to the B-3-R and the C-R Zone. Those are only about -- those square footages are actually the same. We went -- we were at 65,340 and 69,6 and it went down to 69,084 and 65,340. Those two are the same. So, the difference really isn't that significant.
But the piece of it that I was troubled by is the removal then of the social areas, because initially that wasn't listed in your original plan. It didn't distinguish that that area wasn't included. So for practical purposes, one might have included the social areas whether it be common gathering room, maybe a cafeteria, I don't know what else is in an apartment building, maybe a gymnasium.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Well, gym --
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: So --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Let's say you live in an apartment and you want to have a party and your apartment's not big enough for a party, you might want to have a party room or a meeting room, something like that where you could have a birthday party for your child.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: So then my question is: If you had -- and we'll just take, for instance, because you took it out of the new plan, so when you reduced the floor area ratio and took that piece out, if you were in a building of 65,000 square feet with 35 units, approximately how much space -- excuse me, I'm losing my voice. Can somebody take my questions for me?
How much space would be necessarily allocated, in your mind, would you say would be an appropriate amount of space, to accommodate 35 units in a 65,000 square foot building?
MR. BRANCHEAU: I think it's going to be dependent upon -- you're talking about -- when you're Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 29
looking at floor area, you're looking at the units themselves, you're looking at the hallways --
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- you're looking at stairwells, entry lobbies, you're looking at other common areas, maybe mailrooms, things like that. And It comes down to what size units you want.
As I said previously, it is my understanding that the Board wanted to accommodate larger units that would sell for a higher rent that would attract Ridgewood residents who are seeking to downsize from a single-family dwelling to apartment living and, yet, still command a higher rent. People with disposable income that would spend that income downtown, and that that floor area reflected that. I -- I looked at this every which way, I have my own notes on this in my folder. And I looked at various floor area ratios and various sizes. And I looked at it, and I took a typical unit, average unit size, this includes hallways and common areas, everything.
I said the average per unit was 1200 square feet, 1500 square feet and 1800 square feet.
I looked at the FARs based upon that.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: So, in other words, when we reduce -- when we remove the social area out of the floor area ratio, when we removed it --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Well, we never removed it out because it was never a requirement.
MS. PRICE: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: I added the requirement for social area, but we never discussed how much or what configuration. So I didn't know how much would -- how that would affect floor area ratio. That's why I excluded it. I expect when we get to an ordinance -- if and when we get to an ordinance, that it would be included in the floor area ratio and that's one of the reasons why there's a range of FAR. So it could be included. But, without knowing how much of that space is going to be agreed to by the Board and by the Council, I decided to leave it out. But I do think it should be included in it, once we get to an ordinance. But I don't know how much to include here right now. So that range of 130 to 140 percent, if that's what it is, might end up in the ordinance as 135, including that, as opposed to 130, not including it. It depends upon how much we require and what configuration we're talking about. Then I can more reasonably provide an estimate.
And we have to, at that time, look at such things as, okay, if you want to encourage larger, more luxurious units, and you factor in a certain amount for halls and stairs and entry lobbies and now you want add in a gym, a reading room, a meeting room, a rec room, game room or something like that, how many of those things are we adding in? Then I can tell you how much floor area that's going to mean and then come up with a final number on the FAR. That's basically why it's not included. Not because I was trying to provide some bonus, it's just uncertainty.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: So, if you added it in then what would happen is those units would be reduced in size, if -- and you had an X --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Well...
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: Or less units? Something -- was something you --
MR. BRANCHEAU: That would be up to how the developer chooses to configure.
I mean, the way it's structured right now, there's both the maximum floor area and a maximum density. The developer will have the choice to go for the maximum density or go for the maximum sized units. If he chooses to go with larger units and he can't comply with the floor area ratio, then he'd have to reduce the density to make that work. If, on the other hand, he wants to go for the maximum density, it may mean smaller units. But, again, our -- our objective -- my objective, as I understand it from the Board, was not to force someone to build small units in order to achieve the density limits, but to be able to encourage a developer to build a more luxurious type of unit. So that's why the units are larger, that's why the floor area ratio is larger.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: So just one last question, on the B-3-R zone, the similarity to The Enclave, the more downtown comment, is there any reason that we wouldn't want to have some retail in those areas? That it shouldn't be a choice, that it should be required since it is more downtown and that is a focus of our Central Business District, is business. Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 30
So, is there a reason that we simply wouldn't have made that a part of, not a choice?
As it is now, it's required on the ground floor.
MR. BRANCHEAU: That's twice before. Certainly you could require it.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: Okay. Thank you.
I have no other questions.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Mayor?
MAYOR ARONSOHN: Yes. Great.
Thank you, Blais. Thank you for your testimony tonight and all the work you've done on this. You know and thank you really for reducing some of the size here. I mean, I appreciate the decrease in the acreage. I appreciate that decrease in the density number, the decrease in the height. I think these are all very important changes that have been made.
And on this issue of public space, I think that's what's really important because that is a new addition. You haven't talked about it really tonight. We talked about it at the last meeting. But that's a new requirement. And to me, that's really important for a couple of reasons, and this is a requirement that is written in there that requires additional public space both internally and externally. And so from my mind, that increased the likelihood of these will be luxury apartments because it will require a community space, a community room, a fitness center inside. And it would increase the likelihood of having green space on the outside. So, I think this is an important change and I really appreciate you doing that. I have three sort of outstanding questions or issues. We can talk about them tonight or not.
One is with respect to affordable housing. As we discussed throughout this process, you know, there's always been this possibility of looking at our affordable housing obligation and either meeting that obligation with affordable housing units or through special needs units within the apartment buildings, these complexes or the possibility of quantifying what that obligation is and putting money into a fund. And what that means is, and correct me if I'm wrong, but that means that let's say on one of these sites there was a 15 percent obligation and rather than putting -- let's say, if there were 100 units, rather than putting 15 affordable units on that site, they could possibly pay, if we could quantify that, there was a formula, pay into a fund that would allow us, the Village, to provide affordable or special needs housing in a different location. So that's one issue I want to address here tonight or going forward. Another issue is, you know, whether or not it makes sense to move forward with one vote on an amendment or to move forward with four votes or some combination thereof. Again, I've raised that on a few occasions and I just think it warrants some consideration. And then the third issue, I can't remember, I think it's late, I can't -- I can't remember. But I don't know if you want to address those and maybe while you're talking I'll remember what the --
MR. BRANCHEAU: All right. You know, both of these are -- I think the issue on the affordable housing is best dealt with as part of the Housing Element preparation. Certainly, the Village is allowed a certain amount of special needs housing to satisfy its obligation. Gail mentioned previously, though, that 50 percent of the total has to be family housing. All right. So depending upon how the mix works out, that will determine how many special needs units we can include in the plan.
As to what's referred to as a Payment in Lieu, the rules, I believe would allow that under certain circumstances. But without getting into the details of the plan, I can't really answer right now as to whether that's an option for the Village and, if so, how much of an option it will be.
MAYOR ARONSOHN: So is that something we could address down the road --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Will -- will have to address as part of the Housing Element.
MAYOR ARONSOHN: I remember my third question.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Okay.
The second question as to one vote versus multiple votes, I guess it's more of a legal question. But I will venture to say as I said in our deliberations at the last meeting, is I think as a Board can split a site plan application, votes on separate issues where there is unanimity, I think you Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 31
could do it. But I would subject that to Gail's advice because it's not really a planning issue.
MAYOR ARONSOHN: And the third issue, and I don't know how I forgot this because of this issue, is parking. And, you know, we had talked about at one point about the possibility of maybe -- I don't know if it's in this part of the process, if it's in the ordinance part of the process, if it's site plan review, if we ever get to that point. But it would be great if we could built things in some kind of incentive where the property owners, you know, help us, you know, provide -- help us provide relief from parking, that is whether they pay into a fund that allows us to build a parking deck or provide some parking on their property that would be for municipal use or something. Just is there some way to use this process to help us address the parking situation?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Again, it's a legal question. I'll only say that I've never seen that done. And I'm not aware of any provision in the law that would allow that. But, again, it's ultimately up to legal counsel.
MS. PRICE: We're going to defer that for tonight.
MAYOR ARONSOHN: All right.
MS. PRICE: But I heard you.
MAYOR ARONSOHN: Great.
MS. PRICE: You'll get an answer.
MAYOR ARONSOHN: Great, thanks.
MS. PRICE: And it's certainly not for right now for the Master Plan, you know, it certainly is something for down the road.
MAYOR ARONSOHN: Okay.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Just so it's clear, the plan, as proposed, mandates compliance with the required parking on the site, which rests fully, 100 percent fully, the needs of the residents and visitors and patrons to these properties. So that there should be no effect on public parking, except if someone chooses to drive from their unit to the downtown and parking in a public space, that could happen. And, obviously, it would have an effect. I mean, it's a good effect in one way because they're coming into our downtown to go to a restaurant or go to a store.
But, as far as the direct need of these units, the Master Plan is intended to ensure that 100 percent of the need for that use is addressed on-site.
MAYOR ARONSOHN: Again, and I appreciate that. What I'm looking for, is there a way to say, you know, for the right to develop X, we need you to help us build a garage. Something to that effect. You know we had talked about that in the context of the traffic, the Improvement District or whatever that concept was, we were talking about in terms of the traffic improvements.
I'm wondering if there's any way to use this process to sort of help us build a parking deck.
Anyway, thanks. Thank you, Blais.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Richard.
VICE CHAIRMAN JOEL: Thanks, Blais.
You took a thoughtful balancing of a lot of different factors to tonight's production and a good job on it. And I just have one question, I guess following up with Susan on the social areas. It's not without limits. We have bulk requirements anyway, height, setbacks and things like that. So it's not going to --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
VICE CHAIRMAN JOEL: Yeah, so it won't be unlimited.
MR. BRANCHEAU: No.
And like I said, when we get to an ordinance, it won't --
VICE CHAIRMAN JOEL: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- that open-ended question will be closed.
VICE CHAIRMAN JOEL: Yes, yes. Thank you.
No further questions.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Kevin?
MR. REILLY: No questions. Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 32
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Wendy?
MS. DOCKRAY: Okay. Almost falling asleep here, but not really. I just have a few questions --
MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: Microphone.
MS. DOCKRAY: Can you hear me? I'm sorry. I want to go back to -- I'm sorry, just really quick, but back to the floor area ratio. And, my -- you know, my understanding having sat through I mean all these hearings, I think I may have missed one, but I did review the transcripts. I didn't hear a lot of testimony that said we should be enlarging the units. I just didn't. And we've heard extensive testimony, I believe, based on an average of 13 to 1400 square feet. And now you're proposing 1500 to 1600 square feet. I think that's probably about right. And I have to be really honest, I'd be a lot more comfortable with remaining at the square foot we started out with because a lot of the testimony with regard to unit distribution, the cost benefit analysis that was done, was based on a certain size unit. And we start decreasing the unit then, you know, we could be talking about more two-bedroom apartments, three-bedroom apartments? I'm not sure here. But, you know, I was just relying on the testimony of the planners, and they were talking about smaller units. And I'd really like to keep it there, and I think it would also be helpful in terms of keeping the mass of these buildings down perhaps? Maybe not, but that's just my thoughts. Okay. I'd like to see you come back.
MR. BRANCHEAU: So do you have a question on the --
MS. DOCKRAY: Yes, the question is: Can you reduce the floor area ratio to a ratio that would keep the units at a 1300 to 1400 square feet parameter?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Obviously, you could reduce it to make them even smaller than that, but that would then go against the idea of trying to keep these as luxury units.
Just so it's clear --
MS. DOCKRAY: But we have testimony that 13 to 1400 square feet, they were luxurious, so I don't know why we --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Well, I can --
MS. DOCKRAY: -- so I don't know why we --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Well, I can tell you what the floor area per unit is.
MS. DOCKRAY: The what? I didn't hear you, sorry.
MR. BRANCHEAU: First let me go to The Enclave work, the -- again these are my calculations, based upon the floor plans that were given to us. Chestnut Village and The Enclave both had units in the range of 1300 square feet, that's gross, that includes hallways and stairwells and things like that.
MS. DOCKRAY: Uh-huh.
MR. BRANCHEAU: The Dayton was around 1800 square feet per unit, again, gross, my calculation. So there's a range there of 13 to 18. And I think the range that's in the plan is comparable to that range, I mean there's some cases it's larger than what was proposed and in some cases it's smaller than what was proposed. And some cases we're combining commercial with that, which affects the floor area ratio as well. So, it's certainly possible to do that, but you'll end up with smaller units if you do that.
MS. DOCKRAY: Well, we'll end up with what was --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Or less commercial.
MS. DOCKRAY: -- was 90 percent of our -- or 99 percent of our testimony was based upon those -- that sized unit, that average. So my point --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Well, I --
MS. DOCKRAY: Even though you're saying, you know, that was what was in the original amendment, that size, that framework.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Well, what was -- well, I --
MS. DOCKRAY: And then what happened was we changed the density down.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Both the density and the floor area went down.
MS. DOCKRAY: But you didn't adjust the floor area -- Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 33
MR. BRANCHEAU: Right --
MS. DOCKRAY: -- by the same amount.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Let Blais finish please.
MR. BRANCHEAU: The effect --
MS. DOCKRAY: Okay.
MR. BRANCHEAU: The effect of the reduction was that it could accommodate a slightly larger unit, but fewer of them. And I think we had, you know, some discussion about that.
So -- but the total floor area went down. It was a reduction, like I said, 10 percent in one zone, 20 percent in the other zones. And, again, 10 percent in two zones, 20 percent in one zone. And the difference was because in the other zone, that only had a ten percent reduction, we didn't reduce the commercial aspect of it. So I didn't feel I could do a commiserate reduction of commercial space. So, that was the reason for the difference there. But the simple answer is if you want to require smaller units, you certainly can. Whether that's a good idea, obviously, you're right in the sense you're reducing the mass, but it also is going to reduce the value of the units and make them 10 feet, that much less from a luxury perspective.
MS. DOCKRAY: I just think that we weren't -- I didn't hear any arguments over the course of the testimony about we should be reducing the size, the average size. That we should be increasing the average size, I didn't hear that.
MR. BRANCHEAU: No, and then that was --
MS. DOCKRAY: But then when you made these adjustments you did that.
And I'm thinking maybe we should go back to what was original. But that's my --
MR. BRANCHEAU: The -- the adjustment --
MAYOR ARONSOHN: I for one asked if we wanted larger apartments, and I thought that actually gets to the luxury apartments that I think this town's missing, so I mean that's --
MS. DOCKRAY: I -- I thought the developer said based on the 13 to 1400, at least Mr. Burgis -- and, you know, that what was proposed, that amendment that was proposed, here which was -- which gives them 13 to 1400 was going to give them luxury apartments.
MAYOR ARONSOHN: Sure, but the developers also wanted 50 units per acre. That's something we're not --
MS. DOCKRAY: Right, right. No, but I'm just trying to get everything scaled back and proportioned. That's it.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: So, Blais, actually, to Wendy's point --
MS. DOCKRAY: That's all.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: -- I don't mean to interrupt because I know it's late and --
MS. DOCKRAY: It's all right. If Nobody wants to do it that's okay.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: -- it's Michele, and Isabella and Khidir's turn, but just real quick to Wendy's point, and I'm just really trying to find a comfort zone with all of this.
So, to Wendy's point, is it something to reduce the floor area ratio and then you have a maximum density units per acre. And if someone chooses as a developer to build -- to create less larger units or more smaller units, that becomes their prerogative and not on the backs of anyone else. So just by reducing the floor area ratio and moving those now much larger units, that would be their choice whether or not they wanted to then have, say, 25, 1500 square foot units or 30, 1,000-square foot units. So is that something that we can actually do, and it balances it a little bit better.
MR. BRANCHEAU: I'm not going to say you can't do it. I'm saying that what was done was, again -- a lot of this seems to be that we're sort of begrudgingly allowing something whereas I'm viewing this more from a positive respect that -- that this a good thing and that by allowing more units and larger units, we'll have a better result than if we had smaller units and fewer of them.
So, you know, you're right in the sense of what's possibly could be done. But from a policy standpoint, I'm saying that I think the result would be better with the larger units and the densities proposed. Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 34
But that's up to the Board ultimately.
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: So -- and just to that point, though, if somebody had the floor area ratio with this number, and they had 35 units per acre, theoretically they could maybe go to the Board of Adjustment and say, well, we're not going --
MS. PRICE: They can't do that?
MS. DOCKRAY: What?
MR. BRANCHEAU: I think it -- I think it would be very --
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: No, no, no, no.
MR. BRANCHEAU: I think it would be very difficult for a developer to go to the Board of Adjustment to seek a variance given the extensive analysis that we've done and the recent amendments to the Board of Adjustment to now throw it out the window at say, we know better. We've studied this for 30 days. It would be --
COUNCILWOMAN KNUDSEN: Well, but is it possible that someone might go to the Board of Adjustment and say, we're not going to exceed the floor area ratio, but instead of 30 units we would like 33? It --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Same thing. I would say the same issue would be there.
For them to basically tell the Planning Board or the governing body they don't know what they're doing. You know we're going to grant a variance because we think this is better. I think it would be tantamount to rezoning. And I think they're prohibited from doing that, especially given the size of these zones. I mean, when you grant variance relief, it's supposed to be because when you zone, you zone for a typical situation. And you have an unusual circumstance that the typical situation doesn't fit; whereas, in these small zones that we're talking about it's probably either all of the zone or most of the zone that you can obviously grant a variance for, and I would suggest that in case law that the courts have considered that to be tantamount to rezoning which the Board of Adjustment has no authority to implement. I don't think this board is --
MS. PRICE: That's exactly why I jumped in there because I'm a hundred percent in agreement with Blais on that.
MR. BRANCHEAU: I mean, if we had 100 lots --
MS. PRICE: It would be a huge problem.
MR. BRANCHEAU: If we had 100 lots and someone comes in and says, okay, I'm buying one lot because of the unique circumstances for this lot or these two lots out of 100, I would want relief. That's when the Board should be granting relief from it. But to grant relief for an entire zone or 90 percent of the zone, I think would be Ultra Vires. I just don't think they have that power. And that's one of the reasons, again, to answer one of the members of the public's question, does this create a precedent or something that would cause a domino effect, either by additional properties or by any one of these properties to seek additional development, I think that would, in fact, limit them.
MS. PRICE: I'm sorry.
MS. DOCKRAY: Oh, that's okay.
Blais, just if you get a chance, it's not too much trouble, if you could, maybe the next time, just let me know what the associated floor area ratio would be if 13 to 1400 square feet apartment were the standard amount --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Sure.
MS. DOCKRAY: -- be slightly larger or less, just so I can see what that --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Are you talking about AH-2 or all of them because the problem with the mixed use zones is now you start to make assumptions about how much commercial would be developed. And, again, unless we do as Susan suggested, where we require a certain amount of commercial, that becomes a much more conjectural analysis.
MS. DOCKRAY: I'm sure it does.
MR. BRANCHEAU: I can tell you -- Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 35
MS. DOCKRAY: I don't want to just stay up all night.
MR. BRANCHEAU: I could you tell what it could be if they did the maximum commercial or if they did no commercial --
MS. DOCKRAY: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- that gives you the range.
MS. DOCKRAY: Okay. That would be good, range is good.
MS. PRICE: Wendy, do you have a reference because I just looked at the three reports and I just wanted to have a reference so I can look back on where you -- where the 13 and 1400 is coming from? Are they coming --
MS. DOCKRAY: You know what, it's in my head. It's in my head.
Somewhere along in three -- three years, I remember we started out in the -- on the -- when we were doing that committee, we were at 1500. Okay? And I think I had a discussion with Blais once and this is what he told me it was. In fact, I was looking back in my e-mails to see if I was correct.
MS. PRICE: Okay. I thought you had said that the developers had said that that's where they were --
MS. DOCKRAY: Ph, no, no, no. No. My understanding is -- the developers didn't say 13 to 1400, but by understanding was the way the amendment was crafted it would result in an average unit size of 13 to 1400. And that's, you know, when the developers were speaking, they were speaking to the amendment that we're considering and I assumed they understood the 13 to 1400 and they were testifying about providing luxury housing at that site at that size.
And then what happens, you know, Blais has now changed this. And he's reduced the density. And -- but he didn't make the same adjustment to the floor area ratio. So, now -- and it's not by the same proportion. So, it appears to me that the -- that the -- the average size of the units would be higher. And I think that's not correct.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Wendy, I can give you --
MS. DOCKRAY: They --
MR. BRANCHEAU: I've done, as part of what I did in my analysis --
MS. DOCKRAY: Yes.
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- I looked at different floor area ratios that would result, if you assumed certain unit sizes, gross, again, counting hallways, counting lobbies --
MS. DOCKRAY: Correct.
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- stairwell, storage, et cetera.
MS. DOCKRAY: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: And at 35 units per acre, if you had a 1200 square foot average unit size, you would have a floor area -- and no commercial at all --
MS. DOCKRAY: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- you'd have a floor ratio of 96 percent.
MS. DOCKRAY: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: If you had an average unit size of 1500 square feet, same density --
MS. DOCKRAY: I think that's where we originally started.
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- 35 you would have a floor area ratio of 121 percent.
MS. DOCKRAY: I think that's where we originally started it three years ago.
MR. BRANCHEAU: And if you had an average unit size of 1800 square feet at 35 units per acre, you would have the floor area ratio of 1.5 percent.
That's assuming no commercial whatsoever. If you added commercial now to that mix --
MS. DOCKRAY: I guess that's --
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- the number goes up.
MS. DOCKRAY: I understand that.
MR. BRANCHEAU: You know, so that you can -- you know, if you wanted to find out what it was at 1300, between the 1200 and 1500 which was at that density between 96 and 121, it Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 36
would be probably something in the range of 105 percent FAR. If you said no commercial and just 1300 square feet per unit.
MS. DOCKRAY: Okay.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Including those --
MS. DOCKRAY: Thank you. Okay. I'm going to move on, I know it's late.
I'll always get to my very detailed questions very late.
And the AH-2 has density figures of 30 and 35, but no commercial on the ground floor; that's correct? Right? I got that, right?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
MS. DOCKRAY: Now, B-3-R, we also have 30/35, but we allow first floor commercial; is that correct?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Correct.
MS. DOCKRAY: Then why, if we have the same size building, which I think they mostly are, 50 feet, you know, high, whatever, and similar floor area ratio, whatever, why aren't we reducing that 30 to 35 in the instances where there's commercial on the first floor?
So, to keep everything --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Well, it's not.
MS. DOCKRAY: -- uniform?
MR. BRANCHEAU: It's the same height building.
MS. DOCKRAY: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: It's not necessarily the same size building. All right?
MS. DOCKRAY: I don't get it.
MR. BRANCHEAU: They're still limited to 50 feet.
MS. DOCKRAY: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: All right. But you could have a bigger building of the same height as commercial.
MS. DOCKRAY: So if you could tell me -- all right, you could have a bigger building.
MR. BRANCHEAU: You could have a bigger building, same height as your AH-2 --
MS. DOCKRAY: If there's commercial on the floor -- the first floor --
MR. BRANCHEAU: If you had commercial on the ground floor --
MS. DOCKRAY: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- then you could have, possibly, a larger floor area ratio.
MS. DOCKRAY: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: That's going to determine --
MS. DOCKRAY: I'm just talking about the density. I'm just talking about --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Just the density, all right.
Well, you could have a straight housing project which is why the density is --
MS. DOCKRAY: Right, right. I understand that.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Okay.
MS. DOCKRAY: But what happens if it's -- they put in commercial on the first floor, all right?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
MS. DOCKRAY: There's commercial on the first floor and then they have three stories, let's say, of residences, that would compare, why would we allow the same amount of density as if they have four stories of residential?
Why are we saying if there's commercial on the ground floor, then your density for residential will be 30 percent less or 25 percent less?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Well, I guess your question is really more floor area ratio because if you could achieve that -- again, if you could fit that in -- and, again, I'm operating on the assumption that density up to a point to put -- I'm not trying to reduce density, except when that density results in an unacceptable condition. All right. I'm suggesting that it's actually beneficial to have the highest density that you can achieve until you start to cross the line into unacceptable Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 37
conditions, whether it's excess traffic, whether it's excess bulk and mass of the building, whether it's -- whatever it is that is a legitimate zoning consideration, once you hit that, stop. But I'm saying short of that, density is a good thing for all the reasons that we're doing this, is to satisfy housing units, to help downtown and, therefore, the more units you could get up to that point is better so --
MS. DOCKRAY: But those are likely then -- they would be really small units, 25 percent less.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Well, but again the floor area ratio is set high enough that even if that were to happen, you wouldn't be talking about 800 square foot units anymore. You're still talking about the units that are large enough to be of a more luxurious nature.
MS. DOCKRAY: You know I'd like to think about it. It's late, I'm going to, you know, take it -- take it into my head and think about it for the next hearing. But --
MR. BRANCHEAU: So we -- okay. Never mind.
MS. DOCKRAY: Right. Seriously, it's late.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Something to consider though --
MS. DOCKRAY: Yeah, I would just think that they --
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- if someone were to put --
MS. DOCKRAY: -- would say, you know, you've got commercial on the ground floor that -- that you would expect somewhat more units than if you were all residential.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Here's one thing that's going to be a self-limiting factor. If someone were to do commercial on the ground floor --
MS. DOCKRAY: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- they're going to have to satisfy the parking for that commercial.
MS. DOCKRAY: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Plus they're losing that ground floor that you could put to use as parking, itself. And when I did my analyses of a hypothetical build-out, I said, let's look at three floors of space, with ground floor parking. If you now use that ground floor for commercial, you're getting hit twice. You've got a parking demand for that commercial you've got to satisfy. You're taking away parking supply for the housing. And you're losing parking space, that would have been put under the building because it's now being put for commercial. So, twice you're getting hammered -- I shouldn't say hammered -- You're being -- it will force -- it will force a reduction in something if you put commercial on the full ground floor because you won't be able to satisfy the parking requirements for both. So something's going to have to give. You're either going to give on housing or --
MS. DOCKRAY: Right, but I just --
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- you're going to give on commercial --
MS. DOCKRAY: All right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- to make that useable.
MS. DOCKRAY: All right. Right. I'll look at -- right, I understand what you're saying.
But I also think it seems to make sense that we should be a little bit more -- Quick question, can you let me know the appropriate density and FAR, if you can find it, at the School House Apartments? I just --
MR. BRANCHEAU: I can -- I can --
MS. DOCKRAY: I -- I -- in fact, you gave me that question --
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- look it up.
MS. DOCKRAY: And I thought maybe Gail would bring the answer tonight.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes. And I looked at that and I --
MS. DOCKRAY: I know it's --
MR. BRANCHEAU: I looked at that and I didn't -- I didn't talk to you about that.
Are you talking about --
MS. DOCKRAY: We had a lot of testimony at the end.
MR. BRANCHEAU: I have density of every multifamily project -- Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 38
MS. DOCKRAY: Yeah, but I want to --
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- in town.
MS. DOCKRAY: Yes.
MR. BRANCHEAU: And I can get that. It's just identifying and making sure it's --
MS. DOCKRAY: It's School House apartments, okay. The 25 feet, we have -- we didn't talk very much, you know, the distance from the railroad. Am I correct on that, that would -- would that accommodate one parking spot --
MR. BRANCHEAU: I'm sorry?
MS. DOCKRAY: -- vertically with 25 feet, if they were to cut -- is that one parking spot vertically?
MR. BRANCHEAU: What are you talking about --
MS. DOCKRAY: Now, we have a 25 foot setback, right, from the railroad?
MR. BRANCHEAU: That's for the building.
MS. DOCKRAY: Uh-huh. For the building.
MR. BRANCHEAU: That's for the building.
MS. DOCKRAY: If they were to put parking there, would it accommodate just one spot vertically?
MR. BRANCHEAU: A typical -- vertically?
MS. DOCKRAY: Yeah. Not backing up, let's say --
MS. PETERS: Horizontally.
MS. DOCKRAY: Horizontal.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Well, it's not only depth, deep, one space deep?
MS. DOCKRAY: Yes.
MR. BRANCHEAU: A typical parking space is, for residential, 9 by 18.
MS. DOCKRAY: Is what?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Nine feet wide by eighteen feet deep.
MS. DOCKRAY: Right, right.
So then you would have space behind it to get out? Would there be room?
MS. PRICE: It depends on --
MR. BRANCHEAU: You get out of -- well, the aisle --
MS. DOCKRAY: I'm just trying to gauge, you know -- you know, for -- we're saying 25 --
MR. BRANCHEAU: If you had -- if you had a building that was 25 feet from the railroad.
MS. DOCKRAY: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: All right? And it goes all the way to the ground.
MS. DOCKRAY: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: There's no way you're going to get a parking space in that 25 feet.
MS. DOCKRAY: That's what I'm trying to establish. Okay.
Thank you. And --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Not -- not and the aisle that goes with it so.
MS. DOCKRAY: Okay. I see in the C-R Zone you don't allow -- we no longer allow all commercial development?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Again, that was because of the affordable housing issue that I feel the Village has an obligation to address that. And I shifted this version from the prior version away from the commercial for that reason, because I feel that to do otherwise would subject us to challenge.
MS. DOCKRAY: Okay. But how does this differ from the AH-2 zone then?
MR. BRANCHEAU: The AH-2 doesn't allow any commercial use.
MS. PRICE: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: All right. But that's already in our housing plan.
MS. DOCKRAY: Right. But then now you're saying you will allow commercial if someone wants -- what are we allowing in the Sealfons, this commercial use. Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 39
MR. BRANCHEAU: We're allowing either straight residential or a mixed use with commercial on the ground floor.
MS. DOCKRAY: Oh, we are? That's what I --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
MS. DOCKRAY: -- I didn't understand. I'm sorry.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
MS. DOCKRAY: I didn't understand that.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
MS. DOCKRAY: All right. That's it. Thank you. Sorry for the questions. I appreciate, by the way, all of this and -- I really do. It's a lot of work. It's a lot of work. And I think, Gail -- Gail, I think the 13 to 1400 came from Blais in an e-mail a long time ago when I asked him that question. I'm trying to find it but --
MS. PRICE: Okay. Because I --
MS. DOCKRAY: If it's different, I'd be glad to know that it's different.
MS. PRICE: It would just be helpful, I think, because I tried to go through the reports and in one of those reports I saw 2000 from one of the developers, so in that report --
MS. DOCKRAY: Yeah. I was just working off the amendment --
MS. PRICE: So --
MS. DOCKRAY: -- so that's not what their -- their --
MS. PRICE: The testimony --
MS. DOCKRAY: -- their plans say.
MS. PRICE: The testimony was 2,000 on one of them, in terms of what some of the unit sizes were.
MS. DOCKRAY: Yeah, but what was the average?
MS. PRICE: I don't know, but I will --
MS. DOCKRAY: Yeah, I'll check.
MS. PRICE: I looked at the floor --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Mine is average. It's based upon averages.
MS. DOCKRAY: Yes.
VICE CHAIRMAN JOEL: Yes.
MS. PRICE: Yes, I mean, that's why I was trying to look at the exhibits. I have an exhibit book with me.
MS. DOCKRAY: Yeah, no, it came -- but I also did 1500 from when I was on -- remember we did that subcommittee and we did calculations and then we used that. But we used 1500 as the base. And then we adjusted the space. And that's where that came out of my head.
MS. PRICE: Okay. Well, Blais is going to look at that question for you.
MS. DOCKRAY: Okay. He can straighten us out.
MS. PRICE: Yes.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yeah. I could tell you what hypothetically, if you had to be an average unit size of 1300 square feet, what the FAR would be --
MS. DOCKRAY: Uh-huh.
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- and straighten that out. That's easy.
MS. DOCKRAY: Right. Well, if you could just -- whatever --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
MS. DOCKRAY: Whatever the original amendment was, what the average was that we were considering all long, I'd just like if you could compare that to what you're proposing here, that would be helpful.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Thank you, Wendy.
MS. PETERS: Hi, at 11:15. Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 40
Blais, again, thank you very much. I think I was confused. I thought that our review at our last meeting I thought was testimony as to what is drafted here, so I -- I ask forgiveness for my interrupting you early on in the proceedings. I wanted to address one -- and I know you want all the questions from me. But one of our residents commented about we appear to be speaking only about this area and we need to look at other areas. Mayor Aronsohn did comment about this. We have spoken about this on other occasions, about the Master Plan as a whole, and looking at other areas, for example, just Goffle Road, perhaps this might be an area that you considered for different uses, and just to let persons know that we are -- this is to be continued and discussed in the overall use of the Village. I wanted -- again, I am the big advocate over here with your C Zone. And I expressed this in our last meeting that we have a C-R.
Blais, I know that you gave your opinion as to the nonspeculative actions, and I just keep going back to being that we would be given some type of credit for what we foresee as an overlay, I do propose still having that C Zone being all C-R.
I believe that the C Zone, even for Chestnut Village, has been recommended to be developed has -- in my opinion, for whatever it's worth, it has an area where housing could go up that I could see more readily because of the way the land is graded in this area coming from the train tracks. The area where the Y is, we have a parklike setting. In this respect, I believe that we're outside of the immediate traffic of our business zone. And I am an advocate of having at least half that is -- or half going closer towards Ridgewood Avenue, as being then the C-R Zone as an overlay zone.
I also -- Mr. Slomin commented about this, and it's a matter that I'm bringing up to be on the record publicly, that I am disturbed about and it has to do with the proposed assisted living that's being discussed with the City Council with a very large density. And I'm sure I'm going to be criticized for bringing this up here, but since it was raised tonight, this was discussed last year. We were given opinions. I know I expressed an opinion as to difficulties I saw about the proposed usage, but we're talking about a density and a height that is going above and beyond what we're discussing here with our Planning Board. And I think it should be incorporated in our discussions of what's happening here. So I want to go on the record with that. Economic feasibility, I've discussed this a lot. I've criticized that that should not --
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Michele, are you going to ask him a question or are you going to focus on his testimony?
MS. PETERS: Can there be -- just please forgive me, because I feel that the Planning Board -- I'm sorry I sound so angry, but I am angry. We as Planning Board members are given so little time to discuss what is going on. And I sound angry. I'm very sorry. I apologize. We've given three years, hearing testimony from developers. We've given time, very little, for the public to speak. And we as Planning Board members are given the least amount of time to discuss these important issues. So, please forgive me, but I am angry about it. I feel we should have an open discourse, and as they come up from questions that are raised, they bring up questions that we should be dealing. So please forgive me. Blais, I know that when you're doing the Master Plan, the official plan, when we're looking at N.J.S.A. 40-1, the content of the Master Plan, you have written in here on page 6, and also on page 10, about the architectural elements that was raised earlier.
May I just ask if it's possible to have that brought to the front of your amendment because you're speaking about the objective and the principals which are what we're supposed to be discussing in a Master Plan. I think that will incorporate that more with what I'm hearing concerns are.
Is it possible to have that come towards the front in your introduction?
MR. BRANCHEAU: You mean just talking about a relocation of the section of text to the front of the document?
MS. PETERS: Yes. Just incorporating that into the beginning, yes.
MR. BRANCHEAU: I mean, it's certainly possible.
If the Board wants to do that I will -- Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 41
MS. PETERS: Because I think that's in keeping with objectives and principals.
And also, we are quoting here N.J.S.A. 40:55D-21 about encouraging senior citizen community housing. We have heard from our developers that they're not considering this usage because it's not economically feasible. So I do have a question as to whether that is appropriate to be quoted at this point.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Well, I quoted it in the sense that -- not in the sense of age restricted housing, but in the sense of seeing who may want to stay in the Village, but not own and maintain a single-family home, and that these types of apartment would be attractive to some, not all, of those seniors. So it was quoted in more of a context of that situation, rather than a typical an age restricted development.
MS. PETERS: Thank you for the ongoing session.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Thank you, Michele.
Isabella, questions for Blais on his testimony?
MS. ALTANO: Sure. First of all, I want to say thank you for going back to the drawing board and shaving the density off for all of us. I think it's wonderful that we're beginning to see some revisions. I think it's a wonderful step for Ridgewood to see that these units now are beginning to reflect some of the comments the public has made and the Board has made also. And so I think you did wonderful job in doing that. I'm also pleased to see that you are including the allocation to common space both the inside of the units and also the outside. But I'm really concerned actually more to the point of what Councilwoman Knudsen said, we need to know how much space, common space is going to take, would it will effect the density, and actually, the developers would have to deal with the full construction codes, by building by the code according to the occupancy; is that correct?
MR. BRANCHEAU: I'm sorry. There was background noise. And I couldn't hear you.
MS. ALTANO: I don't know if that is -- what I was saying is --
MR. BRANCHEAU: I didn't hear you.
MS. ALTANO: What is that?
MAYOR ARONSOHN: It could be someone's phone.
MS. ALTANO: No, what I was saying is --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Just the last part.
MS. ALTANO: Yes. I'm just concerned because if they're going to -- if this wonderful space that is to be allocated both inside and outside to create a setback to the units, and the additional common space is a wonderful addition to the unit, they would actually take away from the number of -- I'm assuming, this is a question to you, will they take away the number of units and also the developers would have to allocate the right amount of space to those common floor spaces per the Uniform Construction Code, and what is required by the code.
MR. BRANCHEAU: I'm not sure that the building code -- I've asked the code officials, again, I didn't get an answer. But I'm not sure that the building code requires the type of amenities that I'm talking about.
But, certainly, if those amenities are provided, I'm sure there will be building code requirements that pertain to those and would have to be addressed at the time of construction.
MS. ALTANO: But it will take away from the --
MR. BRANCHEAU: It might. It depends upon --
MS. ALTANO: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- on the configuration, the amount and everything.
MS. ALTANO: Yes.
MR. BRANCHEAU: It could reduce either the number of units --
MS. ALTANO: Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- or the size of the units.
MS. ALTANO: Right. Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 42
MR. BRANCHEAU: If it's -- but it may or may not, depends on the design.
MS. ALTANO: Thank you so much.
MR. BRANCHEAU: You're welcome.
MS. DOCKRAY: And so I just -- were you saying that, let's say they decide to do a gym and they have 50 units in the building and the gym would have to be a certain size, you're not -- there has to be -- there's nothing in the code that says that, right?
MS. ALTANO: Well, there's some rooms that have an occupancy relative to building code and it would have to build all the things by the criteria. These are residential buildings or you create a space, and so all that criteria, you can't build a very small room --
MS. DOCKRAY: I see.
MS. ALTANO: -- that is going to be used by persons, this is going to be an occupancy according to the building code --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes, I mean you're right. There's occupancy loads and fire, you know, codes and regs, just like there is for this room. And you can't design a room to accommodate a large gathering if it's not sized properly.
MS. ALTANO: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Thank you, Isabella.
MR. ABDALLA: Oh, thank you. No questions.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Any other questions?
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Okay. It's 11:25.
What we're going to do is plan to do public comment at the next session which would be on the 2nd of June. We have a re-exam and other issues and a full agenda at our next meeting. So, what we'll try to do is devote the June 2nd meeting to any wrap up issues and public comment.
So, why don't we plan for that at this point, unless there are questions? (NO RESPONSE.)
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: So we'll carry tonight's meeting to June 2nd.
MR. WEINER: I was going to say, I may have a few questions, I don't know, after discussing with my client.
If I do, it'll be a short period of time.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: For Blais?
MR. WELLS: In all due respect, I believe we've been here this long. If he has questions to ask, he should ask them tonight. Everybody else has done it.
MR. WEINER: Well, no --
MR. WELLS: I think --
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: If you can ask them tonight, Ira, let's come forward.
You said you didn't comment earlier that you wanted to hear what people had to say. We have a few minutes.
MR. WEINER: Okay. I have -- sorry to make you move.
I have a question on -- that has to do with density.
In this plan, you have the -sale units at 30 per acre. You believe that that's an appropriate number, I gather, by the fact that you're recommending it and you had issues with going below that; am I correct?
MR. BRANCHEAU: I -- I have concerns.
MR. WEINER: Okay. So you felt 30 was an appropriate number for residential development in this plan?
MR. BRANCHEAU: I think it's -- it's in the bottom of what I think is --
MS. PETERS: Blais, talk into mic.
MS. PRICE: Blais -- yes.
MS. DOCKRAY: Yeah.
MR. BRANCHEAU: I'm sorry. I think it's -- yes, I do. Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 43
MS. PETERS: Thank you.
MR. WEINER: Okay. Now, at -- with the 15 percent set aside on rental at 35, that would yield how many units of affordable housing? That comes out to 5.25 I think?
MR. BRANCHEAU: For all of -- for all of the units.
MR. WEINER: No, let's do -- I'm doing an example. Let's say we have a 30 unit building on one acre, just I want to get the ratio, so...
MR. BRANCHEAU: If you have 30-unit building, 15 percent of that --
MR. WEINER: I'm sorry, 35. You have 35 units.
MR. BRANCHEAU: So 35 Units, one-and-a-half of -- or 15 percent of 35 would be roughly --
MR. WEINER: Five point -- 5.25.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Okay. You've already -- you know the answer. All right.
MR. WEINER: At 11:30 I already did this.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Okay.
MR. WEINER: So, is that -- how does -- how does that come up? Is that five units?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Five, yes, round that down.
MR. WEINER: All right. Now, if you had scheduled -- recommended 30 units per acre for rental at the .15 percent or 15 percent -- I'm sorry -- it would be 4.5.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Four units.
MR. WEINER: Is that four units?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes, because the percent set aside would then have to go over 15 percent to get to the five. So, that density is -- the State's regs, as I read them, say the maximum set aside is 15 percent. So --
MR. WEINER: All right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- 15.6 percent would be higher than 15.
MR. WEINER: All right.
MR. BRANCHEAU: So --
MR. WEINER: The real -- the heart of the question I have is if we know that these developers have told you that they want to build apartments, why do we need to give a density bonus if we know apartments are going to be built anyway?
MR. BRANCHEAU: I believe the State regs -- A, we don't know it. It's likely, I agree. A, we don't know. B, we can't require it. B, the State Affordable Housing regulations require that we incentivize rental.
MR. WEINER: But is there -- is there -- is there a state regulation that requires us to give greater density for residential? Has that required?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Greater density for residential?
MR. WEINER: I'm sorry, for -- excuse me. It's late. For apartments versus for --
MR. BRANCHEAU: For rental.
MR. WEINER: Rentals.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
MR. WEINER: You're telling me that there's a State regulation that says in every multifamily development that -- that a town is doing, they have to have a greater density for rental than --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Until you -- no, the regulation is that until your affordable housing obligation is satisfied, you must incentivize rental housing that is being used to satisfy affordable housing obligation.
MR. WEINER: And the only way to do that is by having a density bonus?
MR. BRANCHEAU: The state regulations specify a density and a set aside difference.
For example, for-sale units, the set aside is 20 percent with one density minimum, and then the for-rental units the density is higher and the set aside is less under the State regs.
MR. WEINER: All right.
I understand that. But you're saying that's the only way to do it? There's nothing else on the regs -- Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 44
MR. BRANCHEAU: I'm only telling you what the State regs say.
Affordable housing don't --
MR. BRANCHEAU: They specifically say density and set aside.
MR. WEINER: Is that the only -- but there's no other methodologies under the State regs?
In other words, you can't --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Not --
MR. WEINER: -- the State regs don't say you can make an agreement with developers?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Well, I'm sure that the developer -- yes, the regs do say that you can -- if you have a developer who's willing to sign an agreement saying I'll do it under somewhere number or some other way, and I'll provide that rental housing that way, then the State regs will allow that.
MR. WEINER: All right.
Did we explore that here we have developers who have already told us that they want to build apartment?
MR. BRANCHEAU: I --
MS. PRICE: No, wait. We're not in the midst of: A, litigation yet; B, mediation; and we're not exploring developer agreements with developers.
MR. WEINER: Well --
MS. PRICE: We're in the midst of -- wait, Mr. Weiner. Let me just finish my sentence.
We're in the middle of a Master Plan Amendment proceeding. We're not in ordinances. We're not in site plan. And we're not in litigation.
So exploring -- for this Board to engage in exploration of agreements, how would that be viewed, Mr. Weiner, by any one of the number of judges --
MR. WEINER: I don't want to -- I don't want to get in a fencing match.
Your planner has said that this is the only way to do it --
MS. PRICE: Well, what --
MR. WEINER: -- and I'm saying that that's not what the regs say.
MS. PRICE: Well, what reg are you referring to?
MR. WEINER: The substantive rules.
Frankly -- frankly, the new rules don't have any incentive in them, but that's -- we don't even want to get there.
MS. PRICE: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.
The new rules --
MR. WEINER: Are not adopted.
MS. PRICE: -- are not adopted.
MR. WEINER: I agree with you.
MS. PRICE: They're specifically invalidated. They were ruled --
MR. WEINER: Well, not -- not entirely.
MS. PRICE: Yes. Yes. Yes, they were invalidated.
But, Mr. Weiner, it's 11:30 so if you're -- if you're --
MR. WEINER: Well, it would been 10:30 if you didn't do the executive session for an hour. I'm sorry.
MS. PRICE: All right.
MR. WEINER: I didn't make it 11:30. It's late so what could I tell you?
MS. PRICE: All I'm trying to say is --
MR. WEINER: And you insisted that I ask the questions now.
MS. PRICE: If you have a specific regulation, it would just be helpful if you could refer --
MR. WEINER: Well, that's -- that's -- that's --
MS. PRICE: -- you could refer to --
MR. WEINER: That's why I wanted to do it next time, so I could look it up and simplify it.
If you want me to go here, then you're going to have to put up with this. I'm sorry. Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 45
MS. PRICE: But if you know the regulation, then you can ask him about it --
MR. WEINER: I don't know it off the -- well, I mean, I know the old one. I don't know the new -- I didn't have a chance to go and run that down; that's all.
MS. PRICE: The regulations in effect are the second round.
MR. WEINER: I understand that.
Are you asking me for a number?
MS. PRICE: Mr. Brancheau, do you know any of the second round regulations that are in effect and applicable for when Ridgewood and any other municipalities file their declaratory judgment actions that would be responsive to Mr. Weiner's question, other than density and rental?
MR. BRANCHEAU: No, other than -- other than what I just said, the regs say that to satisfy the rental obligations and a series of different alternatives.
And in my opinion, the only alternatives that are relevant to this discussion are the density and the set aside incentives, and if you can reach some private agreement with the developer or some separate agreement with the developer to achieve the same thing, to guarantee the production of rental housing. The State is trying to -- is essentially saying, is that the development community, much of it is -- and the need is much greater for rental housing than the market is providing, particularly for affordable housing. And, therefore, we need to compensate for that by incentivizing it. How you do it one way is through density --
MR. WEINER: And --
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- and in -- in a -- in a venue such as this, in a hearing such as this, that to me is the most appropriate solution. Now, if the developer wants to come forward to the Board and say, I'll do it. I'll take the hit. I'll do less density, and I'll still provide the rental housing, well, I'm sure they're free to do that. But I don't think that this Board is in a position to demand it.
MR. WEINER: And the regs we're talking about, the second rounds are -- go through what year?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Well, it's my understanding and I --
MR. WEINER: No, I'm not arguing that they're not in effect. I didn't say that.
What I'm asking is: What year were they designed to go through?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Through 1999.
MR. WEINER: 1999.
So, in 1999, when that -- presumably back in that time period apartments and rental housing wasn't a big deal -- wasn't being built. So things changed in the last 15 or 20 years. And you have developers here that are saying to you, we want to build apartments, right? Building them is more important than having some theoretical incentive in your -- in your ordinance.
MR. BRANCHEAU: I've also had developers say we might want to do condos.
So I can't guarantee to the State or to a board, that this will result in rental housing. I can't guarantee that.
MR. WEINER: Well, all right, then let ask this question: So, how did you decide that it had to be five? Why not 32, instead of 35?
MR. WELLS: Objection, asked and answered.
MR. WEINER: Excuse me, Mr. Wells? Did you want to answer the question?
MR. WELLS: I said objection, asked and answered.
MR. WEINER: Oh, please, you have an objection?
You want to rule on it?
MR. WELLS: Asked and answered.
MR. WEINER: Well, then stand up and say it like a lawyer. I object. And let them rule on it, instead of calling out from the audience.
I don't think that was asked and answered.
MS. PRICE: Is the question how he arrived --
MR. WEINER: I was asking why -- why -- why --
MS. PRICE: -- at that number. Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 46
MR. WEINER: -- why'd he pick 35 instead of 32 for the -- for the incentive.
How did he determine that five was the right incentive?
MS. PRICE: I think Jodi Irwin started the night with that question in terms of why he picked 35 as the number.
MR. WEINER: I -- No, she was asking in terms of why not 25 or 30.
What I'm saying is you can have a -- if we're saying there's an incentive, why isn't -- why did we pick five as opposed to three or two? How did you determine -- I mean what was -- what went into that?
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Blais, answer the question.
MR. BRANCHEAU: There -- this is not a scientific thing. The State's rules, for example, provide four units per acre in the different densities that they're applying.
But, again, we're talking about rules that apply to 565 municipalities with different circumstances, with different land use conditions, with different values, with different costs, all throughout the State. And I don't believe that a one size fits all rule is going to apply in every case. The rules also say that those densities may or may not be appropriate in all cases and that the Court or COAH as the case may be has the ability to require higher densities in those cases where the densities, the default densities established in the rules, are no adequate to result in the production of affordable housing. And as a matter of fact, the densities that have been in the downtown for last 20 years, which exceed the densities in the rules, have not produced a single unit of housing in over 20 years. So that tells me --
MR. WEINER: And -- and --
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- that despite the housing market that's been out there that you eluded to, it has not been economically feasible for people to do it at that density.
MR. WEINER: And the ordinances now require commercial on the first floor.
MR. BRANCHEAU: That's correct.
MR. WEINER: So, you're saying that it hasn't produced any because you have ordinances that say if you want to build multifamily, you also have to build commercial.
MR. BRANCHEAU: No.
MR. WEINER: This is the only multifamily. So we don't know had you changed that and just provided for multifamily at the current densities, whether somebody would have built that?
MR. BRANCHEAU: We have, for example, you can tear a building down for one. We have a zone already on the R-7 zone which permits multifamily housing. It's existed for over 30 years. No one has built a single unit of housing.
MR. WEINER: And what --
MR. BRANCHEAU: I mean that's --
MR. WEINER: I'm unfamiliar with where the R-7 is. I --
MR. BRANCHEAU: I have the ordinance. The R-7 zone is on Ackerman by that railroad, Ridgewood Tennis Club is there and there may be an office.
MR. WEINER: Is that --
FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: That's not empty.
MR. WEINER: That's not part of the downtown area?
MR. BRANCHEAU: No.
FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: And there's buildings in there.
MR. BRANCHEAU: There -- yes, there's buildings there. But what I'm saying is that despite the density that is far greater than the 12 units per acre that the current zoning allows, it hasn't been enough of an incentive for anyone to want to build housing there.
MR. WEINER: Well, let me ask the question: Is there any kind of housing there or just some --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Multifamily.
MR. WEINER: Any multifamily?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes. I could tell you the densities permitted there, 22.11 units per acre.
MS. PRICE: How many, Blais? Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 47
MR. BRANCHEAU: It's 22.11 units per acre is permitted and it's been there for many, many years.
MR. WEINER: All right. So 22.1 -- 22.11?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Correct.
MR. WEINER: All right. So, we don't know if you had -- if it had said 30 units per acre, somebody might have built it? That could have been -- that could be, right?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
MR. WEINER: So, you don't know that you need to go to 35 to do that?
MR. BRANCHEAU: No, I don't.
MR. WEINER: So, you could have -- you could have -- my point I'm making is this: I'm not trying to argue with you. I know you have your own certain way you came to your numbers.
But if the Board wanted to look at this and say, 28 units for-sale and 32 for-rental, that would be an incentive. They -- they have a right to -- it's ultimately their decision.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Ultimately, of course.
MR. WEINER: All right. And that wouldn't -- that's wouldn't be out of line if they wanted to do something along those lines, because you didn't -- I mean you didn't really do --
MR. BRANCHEAU: I don't know what "out of line" means, but what I'm saying is, as I've said before tonight, that I don't view density as a bad thing until it results in an unacceptable condition. Now, some people would say 28 is unacceptable. Obviously, the Board disagreed over what is acceptable and unacceptable. We've had testimony regarding architecture. We've had testimony regarding traffic. We've had testimony regarding the uses themselves. We've had lots of different testimony on the things as to both the impacts and the benefits of these units. And, ultimately, the Board is going to decide whether the density that I put in this plan results in unacceptable conditions or not. And they're going to balance those conditions against the positive benefits that the zoning is trying to achieve and they're going to make a decision as to whether it's an appropriate balance or not.
MR. WEINER: Well, I -- and I appreciate that.
My concern is that earlier this evening you seemed to indicate that 25 units would -- you had an issue with, that -- you said that earlier.
MR. BRANCHEAU: What I said was --
MR. WEINER: But --
MR. BRANCHEAU: -- we've tried -- we've tried 22.11 in one location. That wasn't sufficient. We've tried 25.5 on South Broad Street. That resulted in a challenge, specifically on the issue of density. That suggests to me that that density -- I can't prove it, no, but it suggests to me that those densities are not sufficient to compel someone to tear down a commercial building and build housing.
MR. WEINER: Well --
MR. BRANCHEAU: I could be wrong, but that's -- that's just my opinion.
MR. WEINER: All right. So that's the basis for it --
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
MR. WEINER: For your opinion?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
MR. WEINER: Those two items?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Absolutely.
MR. WEINER: Because you didn't -- obviously, I'm not going to ask in detail, but you didn't go into any economic analysis?
MR. BRANCHEAU: I did not do any pro forma analysis.
MR. WEINER: And during the course of these hearings, did the developers provide the Board with any economic analysis to demonstrate that they needed to have a certain number in order to be economically viable?
MR. BRANCHEAU: No. Absolutely not. Ridgewood Planning Board May 5, 2015 Page 48
MR. WEINER: No. And they could have provided that to the Board to demonstrate why they needed at least a certain density and they didn't do that.
MR. BRANCHEAU: They could have.
MR. WEINER: All right. And just to tie up the two examples you gave, the challenge and the R-7 zone, that's not really -- the challenge was in the downtown area, that's what you said, Broad Street.
MR. BRANCHEAU: It's The Brogan site.
MR. WEINER: All right. And when was that?
MR. BRANCHEAU: That was 2009-2010.
MR. WEINER: All right. Okay. Thank you.
MS. DOCKRAY: Blais, 2009 to 2010?
MR. WEINER: Okay. Thank you.
MS. PRICE: Blais, can I just ask a question, with regard to the 25.1, that density doesn't account for a 30,000 square feet of commercial that was included as well, correct?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes, that was in addition to the 30,000 commercial.
MS. PRICE: So, that density was exclusive of 30,000 square feet of commercial?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Correct.
MS. PRICE: And that was a subject of the objection that you referenced in terms of the AH-2, that property?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
MS. PRICE: And the Zoning Ordinance was never adopted for the AH-2 to effectuate the numbers?
MR. BRANCHEAU: The what?
MS. PRICE: The ordinance was never adopted?
MR. BRANCHEAU: It was not adopted, no.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Any further questions?
MAYOR ARONSOHN: I have a few.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Do you?
MAYOR ARONSOHN: No.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN: Blais, thank you very much again for your time and questions also for the Board.
Tonight's meeting is carried then until June 2nd, we will be here. Whereupon, this matter will be continuing at a future date. Time noted 11:50 p.m.
Approval of Minutes: March 30, 2014; May 6, 2014 - Adopted as written.
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