Planning Board Public Meeting Minutes 20140331


The following minutes are a summary of the Planning Board meeting of March 31, 2014.

Call to Order & Statement of Compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act: Chairman Nalbantian called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. The following members were present: Mayor Aronsohn, Ms. Bigos, Chairman Nalbantian, Mr. Joel, Mr. Hurley, Mr. Reilly, Ms. Dockray and Ms. Peters. Also present were: Gail Price, Esq., Board Attorney; Blais Brancheau, Village Planner, and Jane Wondergem, Board Secretary. Councilman Pucciarelli is recused from the hearing on the H – Hospital zone and was absent from the meeting.
7:05 p.m. – Executive Session - The Board adjourned to Executive Session to discuss pending litigation.
Call to Order & Statement of Compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act: The Board returned from executive session and Chairman Nalbantian called the public portion of the meeting to order at 7:45 p.m. The following members were present: Mayor Aronsohn, Ms. Bigos, Chairman Nalbantian, Mr. Hurley, Mr. Joel, Mr. Reilly, Ms. Dockray and Ms. Peters.
Public Comments on Topics not Pending Before the Board – There were no comments at this time.
Correspondence received by the Board – Ms. Wondergem said the Board received an email from Dr. Kabir regarding the revised master plan amendment for the H – Hospital zone. The Board also received correspondence from Gordon Meth of R.B.A., the traffic expert retained by the Planning Board. Ms. Wondergem said the Board received a letter from Mr. Bruinooge, dated March 25, 2014, regarding 257 Ridgewood Avenue, LLC.
Public Hearing on Amendment to the Land Use Plan Element of the Master Plan for the H – Hospital Zone, The Valley Hospital, 223 N. Van Dien Avenue, Block 3301, Lot 51 – Continuation of Board expert presentations - Following is the transcript of this portion of the meeting, prepared by Laura A. Carucci, C.C.R., R.P.R.:
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Why don't we begin the public hearing to the Amendment to the Land Use Plan Element to the Master Plan for the H Hospital Zone, Valley Hospital, 223 North Van Dien Avenue, Block 3301, Lot 51. 
And this is a continuation of Board expert presentations.  Before we begin let me again remind you that we have members of the Village fire and police department for everyone's safety.  We have two    four exits in the back, two here in front of the stage.  And we also have two fire exits on the stage.
At the last meeting, we heard testimony from Jamie May of Perkins and Will as the board expert on hospital planning regarding design, plan and feasibility, based on the proposed improvements by Valley Hospital.
There seemed to be some confusion at the last meeting as to whether he was a municipal planner.  So there were questions that were directed to him with regard to specific fit in environments like Ridgewood, which is not his expertise.
Tonight, you will hear testimony from the Village planner, Ridgewood's Village Planner Blais Brancheau, who is a municipal planner.  And in part of his testimony he will cover that and, again, I encourage if you have questions that aren't addressed, to please ask them during the cross process.
Tonight, we're going to follow up with Mr. May's presentation.  He has some questions that he promised to respond to at the end of the last meeting.  So after Mr. May, we'll begin with Mr. Brancheau. 
After Mr. Brancheau's testimony, depending on the time, the Board will have opportunity to ask questions or cross examine his testimony, as will counsel from Valley.  And then we will open to public questions if, again, we have time.  If not, it will be at the next meeting.
We do not have a specific date for when tonight's meeting will be carried, although we will carry it until the 15th of April, at which time we will define a date.  It will probably be the last week in April or the first week in May when tonight's session will be carried. 
We will remind people again at the end of tonight's meeting.
Gail, do you have   
MS. PRICE:  Yes.  I'd just like to, before we start testimony, so we don't have to start and stop, mark a couple of board exhibits.  We have Dr. Kabir's Tuesday March 18th correspondence confirming that there are no objections to the revised Master Plan Amendment from his scope of expertise.  So I'd like to mark that as B 16. 
(Whereupon, Correspondence of Dr. Kabir, dated March 18, 2014 is received and marked as Exhibit B 16 in Evidence.)
MS. PRICE:  We have a similar letter from Gordon Meth from R.B.A., the Board's traffic engineer, indicating no need to change the previous conclusions reached by R.B.A.  So that will be B 17 for the record. 
(Whereupon, Correspondence of Gordon Meth is received and marked as Exhibit B 17 for identification.)
MS. PRICE:  And then we have the additional information requested at that March 10 meeting which has been supplied by Perkins and Will.  And we will hear testimony tonight from Mr. May, that's B 18.
(Whereupon, Additional Information of  Perkins and Will is received and marked as Exhibit B 18 in Evidence.) 
MS. PRICE:  And then we have the report bearing today's date from Mr. Brancheau and that is entitled "Proposed Amendment to Land Use Element of the Master Plan H Hospital Zone" and that will be exhibit B 19 for the record. 
(Whereupon, Report of Blais Brancheau "Proposed Amendment to Land Use Element of the Master Plan H Hospital Zone" dated March 31,2014 is received and marked as Exhibit B 19 in Evidence.)
MS. PRICE:  All bearing tonight's date.  That's it.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thank you. 
MS. PRICE:  So, we will just have to recall Mr. May. 
Now, Mr. May, you were sworn at the last meeting, you remain under oath.
MR. MAY:  Yes.
J A M E S    M A Y,   Having been previously sworn, continues to  testify as follows:
MS. PRICE:  And you will be utilizing the PowerPoint which was marked I just marked as B 18? 
MR. MAY:  Yes.
As I'm sure everyone will remember from the last meeting I presented a number of slides of hospital facilities that were similar, although not exactly the same, as The Valley Hospital here in the Village of Ridgewood. 
The purpose of that was specifically some questions had been answered    had been asked in earlier meetings if there were existing facilities that were similar to The Valley Hospital that were in similar locations. 
So, again before I start, it's not apples to apples.  There are no hospitals that are exactly the same as Valley Hospital.  There are no towns that are exactly the same as the Village of Ridgewood.
And I would also say that Blais was absolutely right, that even things that have been done elsewhere aren't always what you should be following.  Sometimes they're good ideas.  Sometimes they're bad ideas.  As always it depends on exactly where they are and what they are.
But the Mayor had asked some specific questions about:  The size of the hospitals, whether they were all single bedded hospitals, how tall they might be, how much lot coverage they had made.
I had two people doing research on this.  We called every hospital that was presented.  We talked to some of them, although not all of them returned our calls.  And the information you see here is pretty much what we found out. 
At the bottom of the slide, if you look at    just look at Valley Hospital, you'll see there are    I listed the sources from where we got any information for the individual pieces.  So Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, 200    451 beds on plus or minus 15 acres.  Existing is 71 feet tall, proposed is 94 feet tall.
Binghamton General Hospital, 228 patient beds, plus 20 transitional beds.  You'll notice there are some other numbers on here, 500 staffed stacked beds.  What that means is they have taken some of their existing    they had 481 licensed beds, they have taken some of those offline as licensed beds and then formed SNF, which is a Skilled Nursing facility, which is not a licensed bed, but the beds still exists in the facility and are staffed.  Their height is    they have seven stories, 99 feet high.  And they're on plus/minus 10 acres.
Geneva Hospital, you'll notice on this one I have clear information for the number of beds as this site is not available.  We actually spoke to the people at Geneva Hospital.  They are on 20 plus acres.  They are claiming they have all private rooms now.  They just built a new bed tower.  They just built a new ED that recently opened.  They added 106,000 square feet.  And they renovated 45,000 square feet.  They finished in the fall of last year.  They are moving their beds around also.  They are    they are calling out that they have 477 staffed beds and 142    142 licensed beds, all private rooms.
Ellis Hospital, 438 beds is a mixture of private and semi private, which are two bedded rooms, on plus/minus 14 acres.  Seven floors above ground, 99 feet tall.  They currently have an expansion project under way.  They will end up at 850,000 square feet on their site.
Huntington Hospital, 408 beds in semi private    private, semi private and triple bedded rooms.  So they actually have some three bedded rooms, on plus or minus 14 acres.  They have 450,000 square feet.  And their tallest building is six stories tall, which is 90 feet.
Long Beach Medical Center, 362 beds on plus or minus five acres, 105 feet tall.  You'll notice there's a small note on this one also that this hospital was closed by Hurricane Sandy.  We called them to try to speak to them but there are apparently no staff there that could actually answer the    any of the other questions we had.
Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey, 361 beds on 16 acres plus or minus.  They have six stories, 85 feet tall.  They just completed an ED addition in 2008.
Saint Vincent's Medical Center, 473 beds.  They have a very large nursery that's why I put in 520 with nurseries.  They have a mixed private and semi private.  They're on plus or minus 10 acres.  And they are 10 stories tall, at 142 feet.
And the last is just a map with pins in it of where those facilities are located. 
And, hopefully, that at least answers the question a little bit better of exactly what those buildings are.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thank you, Mr. May, for your research and for coming back with those. 
I would like to ask the board if they have follow up questions with regards to this testimony now.
Mayor, why don't you begin. 
MAYOR ARONSOHN:  Sure, I appreciate it.
Thanks for doing the additional research for us.  But, you know, looking at this, when I first sat down here and then as you walked through it, I'm trying to find the right word, I'm frustrated by this because we've spent so much time at the last meeting, and now we have this (indicating).  And it really doesn't tell us much.  And I know this, to your point you made last week that    or at the last meeting    that these comparisons are apples and oranges and what have you.  But the only reason we were having that conversation last time was because you introduced it.  You used about a third of your presentation.  It was actually entitled "Site Comparisons" if I remember correctly.  And at that time you gave us seven or eight pictures of hospital.  You told us how many beds.  And you told us the acreage.  You know, I asked you, you know, and so did some of the members of the public and other members of the board for square footage, height, other things that really, if we're going to make site comparisons, would be helpful. 
And you came back to us and I'm not    I don't know how easy or difficult the information is, but some of them we have square foot, some of them we don't. 
I found it interesting that on the acreage for Valley Hospital you didn't even rely on their information, you relied on Google Maps. 
It just seems to incomplete.  And this    this whole conversation just seems very frustrating and perhaps a waste of time.  And I    I don't mean that in a disrespectful way except I don't understand why this was introduced as a subject last time.  And I don't understand where we're supposed to go with this at this point.  This really doesn't help the conversation. 
I guess I don't have a question.  I just    I don't know what    what were you thinking?  You know, I don't know, you know, the intent was.
MR. MAY:  The intent was exactly what I stated, that there had been a number of questions:  Are there similar facilities within residential areas that you know of?  This was asked a number of times during the course of this meeting.  It was never answered nearly as well as I have answered it, if that makes any sense.  They were     
MAYOR ARONSOHN:  And what is your answer?
MR. MAY:  They were   
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Please let him finish.
MR. MAY:  Yes, there are similar    there are similar hospitals in similar settings.  Yes.
MAYOR ARONSOHN:  And these would be the similar ones?
MR. MAY:  Yes, those are examples of the similar ones. 
MS. PRICE:  Maybe I can help a little bit in terms of the foundation.  On April 2nd, 2013, and May 29th of 2013 when the members of the public were asking questions there were a number of questions posed by Genovese, Mr. Wolfson, Mr. Grant, Ms. Reynolds, Ms. Reynolds, Ms. Reynolds, Ms. Genovese, the Chairman, yourself Mr. Mayor. 
So, when Mr. May was preparing for his testimony, he asked to see those transcripts again so he could be responsive to questions that were asked by the public.  And those questions were the questions that specifically asked for additional information other than what the expert for Valley Hospital was able to supply.
MAYOR ARONSOHN:  And I appreciate that and that, therefore, begs the large question, knowing those questions that were asked of the Valley expert back last year on a couple of occasions, why then didn't you come prepared last time to answer those questions about square footage, about height.  I mean   
MR. MAY:  Those weren't the questions that were asked previously. 
MAYOR ARONSOHN:  We    we   
MR. MAY:  When I look at a hospital, I can look at a hospital in general and tell you normally that the number of licensed beds, like the demonstration I showed at the end of the presentation last time, we use a rule of thumb.  It's based off of the number of licensed beds the facility wants or the number of beds if you're doing SNF, but I wasn't taking that into consideration at the time; how many square feet that facility would be, as a rule of thumb, so I could get you in the ballpark of how large that facility would be.
As someone who does this for a living, if you had    if you were a hospital system coming to me asking how many square feet would a 400 bed hospital be, I could figure that out for you.
MAYOR ARONSOHN:  And I don't    and I don't mean to   
MR. MAY:  And so when I answer your question   
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Let finish answer the question.
MR. MAY:     if there are 450 beds at Valley Hospital, about how big should it be?  That was one of the questions that we looked at the last time I presented.  And it was one of the answers that I gave you, that they were doing a good job compared to that matrix.  They were definitely within what we would call the professional realm of where you should be and they were actually at the low end of that.
When I compare a hospital, literally I compare the number of beds and the number of acres it's on. 
It will have a bulk, compared to its beds, it's similar.  And I was hoping to just provide you with an answer to that particular question, are there similar sites. 
MAYOR ARONSOHN:  I appreciate that.  And I don't want you to go back and forth.  I just want to pick up on a point you just made, though.
You said that one of the key indicators, the key things you look at, is square footage.  But that was one of the key pieces of information that wasn't provided when you did the site comparison. 
MR. MAY:  Square    square footage is a comparative number that's based on many things.  When you ask the hospital how many square feet they are, they normally don't include their mechanical equipment rooms which can be up to 20 percent of the square footage of the facility, as an example.
Sometimes they include their basement space, which doesn't actually add to their bulk.  So if they have four floors underground, you don't see that within the bulk of the facility above ground.  It's not an exact science.
Perhaps I wasn't clear when I said in the beginning, as    as I was trying to, I was trying to be clear, that it wasn't an exact science.  And it would not be an exact comparison.  It would be similar.  And that    that was all I was trying to do.
MAYOR ARONSOHN:  Thank you.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Any questions from this side?  Nancy?  Morgan?
MS. BIGOS:  No questions.
MR. HURLEY:  No questions at this time.  Thank you. 
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Richard?
VICE CHAIRMAN JOEL:  No questions.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Kevin? 
MR. REILLY:  No questions.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Wendy? 
MS. DOCKRAY:  I have just one question.
In terms of Binghamton, I don't know Geneva, Schenectady, Ellis Hospital, and I don't know about Long Beach, but I do know about Bridgeport, having been to these places.  These are cities which probably have intense land use development, generally, you know, heights similar to what we're seeing here, which sort of differs from Ridgewood, is that not the case? 
MR. MAY:  I haven't been to all of these sites.  From what   
(Audience outburst.)
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Please, no comments.
MR. MAY:  From the description, again, it was requested of me was are there facilities in residential neighborhoods.  And these have single family houses on two to three sides of the existing facility.  Some of them have single family houses on all four sides, some of them have schools.  Some of them are larger areas than Ridgewood is.  Ridgewood is a very small community surrounded by other communities.
Again, you will not get an apples to apples comparison.  There is no place just like Ridgewood.  And there are    there is no hospital just like The Valley Hospital.  It's just meant for comparison. 
MS. DOCKRAY:  Okay.  Thank you. 
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thank you, Wendy.
Michele? 
MS. PETERS:  Thank you. 
I    I just want to repeat what our Mayor was saying because I think that there could have been a little more diligence made in order to get more specific as to these hospitals themselves.  And I'm sitting here thinking about when I was commenting at our last meeting, at your original presentation, about the impact this had on the residential areas around.  And I made the suggestion perhaps in Googling such like this (indicating).
I want to know what that information is.  And I think it's in keeping with what Wendy was saying about Binghamton, Schenectady and certain towns, and Geneva, where we have more larger cities as opposed to our community that we have here with what is proposed. 
What I believe I have understood is that the scope of what Valley has presented, what they wish to build, is feasible on the property as exists.  It's in keeping with other    excuse me, you can stop me at any time.  That it is appropriate    I should shut up? 
MS. DOCKRAY:  I'm only kidding.
MS. PETERS:  Is that it is appropriate, you see in other places where they are, however, I think what we are asking is that these places where these other hospitals are found are not all in keeping, as you said apples and oranges, but they're not    they're more cities as opposed to the Village.  And I really was hoping that we would hear more about the impact it was, was there anything that happened as far as the residences were concerned around there?  These were all    they're outside the scope of what we're permitted to do.  And I need to get this information from our experts or from other    other experts. 
And I guess I wasn't clear about that.
MR. MAY:  The effect of the facility on the surrounding community is not my expertise. 
MS. PETERS:  Now whose expertise would that be?
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  It would be a municipal planner, rather than the hospital design planner    
MS. PETERS:  A municipal planner's expertise? 
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Yes.
MS. PETERS:  Okay.  Thank you. 
Thank you.
MR. MAY:  You're welcome.
MS. PRICE:  The Chairman mentioned this at the beginning of the meeting, when the Board voted last year to retain Mr. May's services his scope of services, which have been also the subject of inaccurate information that's been in the press and other places.  His scope of services was limited to his field, which is hospital planning and hospital design, not community planning, not whether   
MS. PETERS:  That's a distinction.
MS. PRICE:     this is a planning exercise from starting from scratch and should a hospital belong on this particular site.
His expertise was take what we have been given as a board, as a community, from Valley, go through their plans and:  A, determine if those plans are faulty from someone with hospital background.  Is, in fact, the building that's being proposed necessary?  Is it in keeping with standard hospital design best practices?  Do they really need, you know, the height of the mechanical equipment, specific design issues.  That's what his expertise is. 
His expertise is not whether Valley Hospital should be allowed to be, you know, have 10,000 more square feet on this property.  That's what the Board will need to determine based upon the comprehensive review of this record involving all of the experts' testimony and all of the members of the public's testimony at the conclusion of the hearing.  And weighing all of that testimony and evidence at the end, and determining the credibility that should be assigned to the individual witnesses and the evidence that's been presented.
Blais, as the Village planner, will present issues that are relevant to planning matters specifically geared towards the Village of Ridgewood.
And remembering that this is a policy document, it will go somewhat more detailed than a policy document, and the revised amendment that the board has had since two meetings ago makes it a bit more general because it's been taken down from 16 or 17 pages, down to 10 pages or so.  But it's Blais' testimony that will make that Ridgewood planning relevant. 
Mr. May's testimony and the questions for Mr. May should be directed at whether the plan comports with accepted hospital design and planning practices based upon his expertise, his training and his experience.  And to that end, although there was an effort to explain and answer questions that have been asked early on in the hearing about purported comps that The Valley team presented, and I think some of those were like Allentown, Pennsylvania and some other sites.  This board knows whether it's   whether it's a small mom and pop application or whether it's this large application, you have to look at the specific application that's before the board and the specific request. 
So other sites and other site development may be relevant, but it's only    it's only flavor, per se.  It's not being offered for the board to rely upon and say, okay, well these three hospitals in New York State or this one on Long Island makes this    makes me feel good about this application. 
In law it refers, you know, a judge can give an opinion and the holding is what counts, but the judge may go on and on for 10 extra pages, in terms of other things that he's thinking about and that's called dicta, extra stuff in the opinion.  That's what this testimony is, in terms of the comps.
So, I would urge the board to focus on with each expert, what that expert has been retained to do, environmental, traffic, hospital planning.  And then tonight we'll move on to Blais and hear that nitty gritty on the planning issues. 
That was probably very wordy, but... 
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thank you.
MS. DOCKRAY:  Thank you.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  So, any further questions from the board? 
(NO RESPONSE.)
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  If not, Blais, so you have any questions for Mr. May? 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  No questions. 
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Okay.
Mr. Drill? 
MR. DRILL:  No questions. 
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Okay.  Thank you.
Members of the public, are there any questions with regard to Mr. May's specific testimony this evening only? 
(NO RESPONSE.)
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Are there any?  None.  Okay. 
Mr. May, thank you very much    oh, wait we do have one.  Please come forward. 
State and spell your name and provide your address please.  Again, it's a question with regard to his testimony tonight. 
MR. GIOIA:  Sure.  Right.
Daniel Gioia, G i o i a, 447 Fairway Road. 
So the site    I apologize I missed last week, these are the sites that you're    I guess you spoke to at the previous meeting that are    I guess have been built in these residential neighborhoods? 
I guess we got to this point, no one here or you has, you know, verified or seen where these sites are?
MR. MAY:  I've seen some of them. 
MR. GIOIA:  Which ones? 
MR. MAY:  I worked at Huntington Hospital for instance.
MR. GIOIA:  Have you been to Geneva?
MR. MAY:  I have not.
MR. GIOIA:  This might run over my number of three    my    my three questions. 
Have you been to Schenectady.
MR. MAY:  No, I have not. 
MR. GIOIA:  Have you been to Bridgeport? 
MR. MAY:  Yes.
MR. GIOIA:  And what type of neighborhood was that?
MR. MAY:  Two sides of the facility have housing on them.  The road that it's on    it's on is a little bit wider, it's a four lane road as opposed to a two lane road.  And there are some medical office buildings that are catty corner to the facility I believe. 
MR. GIOIA:  And the design that is proposed    I guess, that's more of a planning question, what the    the design of the    I guess the community or the surrounding neighborhood. 
Like Valley in this    next to this neighborhood that's more a planning question   
MR. MAY:  Again, I'll just go back to it is   
MR. GIOIA:     maybe   
MR. MAY:    not the same.  It will    it is not the same as the Village of Ridgewood.
MR. GIOIA:  Okay.  I'm assuming that someone will tie    will actually connect the dots here with respect to these facilities.  And, you know, how they relate to Ridgewood.  It's probably the planner's job. 
I know that's not a question that's more of a statement or a request given that, you know, I think this was done in the past where they provide their    there have been some site provided and they don't necessarily, you know, match up to what we have next door here. 
I grew up in the town next to Schenectady, believe me, Ellis Hospital is pretty much of an eyesore where that    that whole construction is a block away of the school, but it's an eyesore.  And Geneva, I don't know if anyone here as been to Geneva, New York.  You would have no    if you're going to Hobart College, you have no other reason to be in that town.  But that's it. 
Thank you. 
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thank you, Mr. Gioia.
Please state your name, spell your name and give your address.
MR. PUTNINS:  Zigi Putnins, Z i g i P u t n i n s, 572 Fairway Road. 
You made a statement, some of the hospitals you made a distinction between licensed beds and I think you called them staffing beds.
MR. MAY:  It's a skilled nursing facility. 
MR. PUTNINS:  Can you maybe talk a little bit about the impact of those other types of beds in terms of traffic and intensity of use and things like that? 
Like how are they particularly used?  Are they just for training purposes or real patients or how do you   
MR. MAY:  A standard skilled nursing facility is a long term care facility for people who rarely get out of bed, let's put it that way. 
So, they are    who need medical attention, maybe I should clarify that. 
So, they have visitors.  They have staff.  Their staffing ratios are a little bit lower than the staffing ratios of a medical/surgical facility.  But they have the    they have many of    many comparable things to a patient bed room, so they still have foods.  They still have laundry.  They still have cleaning.  They still have all of those things.  The    the number of visitors per se, is probably less than that of a medical/surgical unit. 
MR. PUTNINS:  Okay, thank you.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thank you. 
No further questions for Mr. May?
(NO RESPONSE.)
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Okay.  Thank you, Mr. May. 
MR. MAY:  Thank you.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thank you for your testimony.  Thanks again for your follow up tonight.

Okay, at this time I'd like to introduce our Village Planner, Blais Brancheau.
Gail? 
MS. PRICE:  Blais, you've been previously sworn.  Let's just, since you're going to give the whole report, do you swear that the testimony you are about to give this evening in connection with this matter is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Yes, I do.
B L A I S   B R A N C H E A U,    
Having been duly sworn, testifies as follows: 
MS. PRICE:  Okay.  You have given testimony two meetings ago regarding the revised and modified Master Plan Amendment that is currently before the Board, correct?
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Yes. 
MS. PRICE:  And the report that you are going to be discussing tonight is the report that I marked as B 19 for the record, that's dated March 31st?
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Yes.
MS. PRICE:  All right. So, why don't you take the board and the public through your presentation, Mr. Brancheau?
MR. BRANCHEAU:  My report, as you mentioned, dated March 31st, it consists of 13 pages and a brief outline of the report.  There are six parts to the report.  There's an introduction and background.  There's a description of the proposed amendment.  There's some discussion of what criteria to be used for evaluating the amendment.  There's a section that discusses the identification of the public interests involved in the amendment.  There's also a discussion of the identification of the detrimental effect of the amendment, if it were to be implemented and efforts to mitigate or reduce those detrimental effects.  And then there's a conclusion with some specific recommendations.
And I will go through each of those parts.  Introduction and background really shouldn't be much new here.  The proposal before the board is an upgrade and an enlargement of the hospital facility.  The key changes, as I see it, are a change from double beds to larger single bed inpatient rooms; An increase in staff support and other support areas in the patient care units; an enlargement of diagnostic and treatment rooms and suites; an enlargement of administrative areas, logistical support areas, the public lobby, the general circulation areas; and an increase in the floor to ceiling heights.
As most people are aware, the current Master Plan was adopted    concerning the H zone that is    was adopted in 2010, that was after more than three years of discussion, analysis and hearings.
The Planning Board then, after that was adopted, submitted an ordinance to the Village Council which the Council declined to introduce.  And the Council cited a number of concerns including the heights of the building, the increased traffic, the construction impacts and what they felt was an over intensive development of the site.
Also, occurring at about the same time was a litigation by the Concerned Citizens of Ridgewood challenging the amendment.  And that litigation was dismissed last year with certain stipulations which my report contains:  One, that Valley was to pursue a revised amendment to the Master Plan; that, two, the board was to hear and deliberate upon that amendment in a prompt manner; and, three, that no ordinance amendments would be implemented while this amendment is before the board.
So, subsequently, Valley filed an amended Master Plan policy statement for the H zone.  And over the past year the board has been discussing that amendment and conducting hearings on that amendment. 
Recently as was already mentioned, I prepared a revised amendment of that which eliminated some contradictions, cleaned up some language in the document, eliminated certain language that is better suited for either the ordinance or site plan review or the developer's agreement, should those things ever happen. 
There's one typographical error, at the bottom of page two of my report I reference the amendment as having a date of February 29th, it's really February 28th, 2014.
Next page is    and this is the second part of my report, I describe the proposed amendment.  And by that I mean what's different about this plan than the plan that the board adopted in 2010.
And, generally speaking, the proposal before the board is somewhat smaller than what we saw before.  And that reduction was accomplished in a number of ways, there was a subbasement level that was eliminated from the original plan.  There was a reduction in floor levels on the west and south buildings from five stories to four.  There    recently, as a result of the recommendation of the Village Engineer and the Board's traffic consultant, a reduction in parking that eliminated underground parking, occurred which has relevance to a number of things.  Some surface parking was also relocated into the parking deck and a level was added without increasing the height of the building.  And there was reduction in total parking on the site from 2,000 maximum to 1700 maximum.  That was a recent amendment, not part of the original amendment filed last year.
Those    again, there are a lot smaller, less significant changes, but those are, in my mind, the key changes from the amendment that was adopted by the board in 2010. 
The next part of my report talks about the criteria for evaluating the requested amendment.  And in this there is no hard and fast rule in the sense of this is how you always do it.  It's not a cook book approach.  It's not something that is precise.  It's part art, part science. 
The board is given broad discretion in its policy making.  Decisions certainly have to be reasonable, they can't be arbitrary or capricious or not based upon sound information.  But within those limits, the board is able to decide in its own way and in its own time, what's best and what should be the policy of the Village in the Master Plan. 
There are some legal restrictions, the Municipal Land Use Law says that the plan is supposed to reflect the community's development objectives and principles; supposed to be in the public interest, not private interest; zoning is supposed to be drawn with reasonable consideration to the character of each district and its particular suitability for particular uses and to encourage the most appropriate use of land.
We tried to reflect that in the Master Plan document.  And we've talked about the fact, in the Master Plan document, that the hospital is already here.  It's an existing site.  So, the analysis that we're looking at here is a little different than if it were a vacant piece of property or it was already single family homes and we were proposing to tear them down or to develop that vacant property with a hospital.  If that were the case, certainly the    the discussion would be going in a different direction.  But it's an existing facility that's been present for 60 plus years in the Village.
So, certainly the appropriateness for the hospital is somewhat waived by the fact that it's already here. 
There's also the surrounding neighborhood, which as we all know is largely single family housing with a school.  And there are impacts that need to be considered as far as the hospital in that context that relate to the appropriateness of the proposed development.  And so when we talk about reasonable consideration to the character of the district, and its particular suitability for particular uses, we have on one hand the fact that there's an existing hospital here.  And on the other hand we have the fact that it's in a larger neighborhood of residential development.  Those two are generally at odds with each other. 
In reviewing the course of the hearings and the presentations so far, it struck me that what the board has been doing, and I think what the board has been doing is appropriate, is very similar to a procedure that's laid out for use variances in a court decision referred to as Sica versus The Board of Adjustment of Wall Township.  And an inherently beneficial use is defined in the Municipal Land Use Law, and it includes hospitals within that definition.  And the key phrase in the definition is that an inherently beneficial use is, and I quote:
“universally considered a value to the community because it fundamentally serves the public good and promotes the general welfare”.  Other uses that are lumped with that include schools, many public facilities are within that definition as well.  Some facilities are beneficial because of their location and their need in a particular location.  But, generally, the use of hospitals is considered inherently beneficial.  I think that's obviously easy to understand why is because people need healthcare.  And in our society hospitals provide the healthcare for the majority of the population. 
So, anyway, to go back to the procedure laid out in the Sica case, which again is a variance decision.  I'm sort of borrowing it here for the purposes of my analysis.  And it bears a striking similarity to what we have been doing because it deals with inherently beneficial uses which the hospital is, and felt that it's an appropriate decision to use in evaluating the proposal. 
There's really a four step process that the court laid out that should be done in these types of variances, but obviously we're not talking about a variance here. 
One is to identify the public interest at stake.  Again, inherently beneficial uses benefit the public by their very nature.  But we need to identify specifically how they benefit the public.
Two, identify the detrimental effects if the property in question is developed as proposed.  So all development has some detrimental impact.  Single family homes have detrimental impact.  Office buildings have detrimental impacts.  Parks have detrimental impacts. 
It's very unusual to find a development that doesn't have any detrimental impact.  But it's part of the balancing test that the Sica court upon is first identify what's good about it, what benefits this would bring.  Then secondly identify what detriments it brings.  And then balance the two.  The third step in that balancing test is to determine whether any of the detrimental effects can be reduced by imposing reasonable conditions.  And if so, determine the extent of the reduced effects. 
The case of the Master Plan, in the case of testimony that's been before the board, there's been extensive testimony on the efforts that are proposed to mitigate the negative effects of a Hospital's proposal.  We've talked about those during construction.  We've talked about efforts to reduce site traffic by reducing site parking.  We talked about efforts to increase buffers, we've talked about efforts to, a number of different things that are intended to either minimize or eliminate negative effects from the development. 
And then lastly, once the board has done those three things, it should balance the positives of public interest against the detriment to determine what's    on balance, if the development would cause a substantial detriment to the public good. 
So, it's really like scales, you know, on one hand you've got, I think everyone here would recognize that hospitals are a necessary thing.  On the other hand, you've got a hospital in a single family neighborhood.  It's not something one would normally do, but it happens. 
I think Mr. May's presentation showed that it happened in many communities.  And I think in many of those communities it's probably a similar story to what has happened here, where it started small and over the years, as my experience, most healthcare institutions have increased in size, not just due to in a population growth but due to technological change, due to industry change and how healthcare is    is handled and performed within an institutional setting. 
So it's here.  And so the question is balancing, I think not just the needs of the hospital, but the needs of the general public for adequate healthcare, against what we all recognize are detrimental impacts that will result from them.
So really the key thing for the board is going to be that balancing of those pros and cons, pluses and minuses.
My next section of report tries to go into some detail as to what the public interest is.  And there's really two areas in which I feel that key benefits proposed are.  First is, again, the healthcare aspect of this.  And there's been testimony by both board and the Hospital's experts as to current trends in hospital planning, current trends in hospital care and facilities.  The benefits of single bed rooms.  The benefits of larger rooms.  The benefits of larger diagnostic and treatment facilities.  The size needs that go along with a hospital of this scale.  And the public benefits from that.  Obviously improved healthcare benefits to anybody who has to go to the hospital.  The single bedroom benefits even visitors, not just in privacy, but in disease and so forth.  And I'm not going to try to repeat what was testimony, but I think the testimony was clear in that that is clearly in the public interest, that the upgrades to the facility would, in fact, benefit the public. 
I cite a number of statistics and facts that I think support the Hospital's being in the public benefit.  One is that a certificate of need or whatever the equivalent is, as has been given by the State of New Jersey for 454 beds for the hospital; that the changes that are proposed are consistent with construction standards that apply to new construction or substantial modification of hospital facilities.  I think the key area to that related to the single bed rooms; related to the size of rooms and the size of units; related to floor to ceiling heights.  It was interesting in listening to Mr. May's presentation of the heights of those buildings and the number of stories, I was doing the math as he was going through it, and how many times that it came out to 14 feet per floor, which is, of course, what has been testified is needed in this proposal before the board.
Mr. May and the hospital testified at some length as to comparable hospital facilities and their sizes.  And while there is no apples and apples comparison, I think, at least from my perspective, that the size proposed here is not exorbitant.  And I agree from what I've seen is on the lower side of hospitals, again it's not talking about the context that the hospital is in, just talking about hospitals themselves.  And the size proposed, I feel, is within industry standards.  And I agree with Mr. May that, yes, it is at the low end of what I've seen.
There's other ways in which the proposal can benefit the general public.  And I've listed those in my report.  And those would include such items as:  Improved buffers and screening    and, again, I'm comparing the existing conditions    Increased setback; reduced improvement coverage, and its corollary increased landscaped area; reduced traffic to and from the site; and improved traffic flow that would result from the proposed street improvements.  So, those are the public benefits as well. 
So, if those are the two main areas of public benefits is, one, is generally speaking the healthcare component; two, is the surrounding area in certain respects, can benefit by these changes to the existing facility that would help to mitigate the negative effects of the hospital in this immediate neighborhood.
Next section of my report talks about identifying the detrimental effects of the hospital and what has been done and can be done to try to reduce or mitigate those effects.  And I kind of itemized about six key detriments from the Hospital's operation or potential detriments.  One is the impacts from the increased intensity of use, the loss of light, air and open space and the increased visual impacts related to the heights of the building, the building mass, the setbacks and the buffers in building design.  Second would be the increased traffic flow and reduced traffic safety, both vehicular and pedestrian I'm talking potentially here.  So, these are concerns that, you know, have to be considered.  Third would be the increased impacts from site illumination.  Four would be potentially increased noise.  Five would be construction impact, there's been a lot of testimony and exhibits and questions about how long the construction would take and the specific impacts related to construction including the truck traffic, the excavation activity, the vibration, dewatering, the noise and the pollution.  And then there's the question of long term environmental impacts.  And that's not really construction related, but just the operation of the hospital, itself.  And by those I'm focusing primarily on stormwater runoff, noise, vibration and pollution. 
The next section in the report tries to look at each of these in some detail and describe what they are and whether I feel personally that they are significant or not for the board's balancing. 
Then I have a table in the report, it's called Table 1 on page five of the report, that provides a comparison between the existing hospital facility and the proposal represented in the Master Plan.  And that actually goes on to page six as well.  And just to do a quick comparison, I highlighted in color in the report, with green, those aspects of the proposal that would improve site conditions and when I say improve, I mean they would reduce negative impacts from the existing facility.  And if it was highlighted in the pinkish red color, then it would increase, potentially, the negative impacts from the hospital operation. 
And I'm using, as far as the various policies, the policies laid out in the national plan sort of at the structure.  So, concerning lot area there's no change there.  So it's the same either way.  Concerning the number of beds, it's 451 versus 454.  Again not a significant change.  Regarding the intensity of use, there are changes in floor area and type of    use of floor area.  I do not view these as    from an intensity of use standpoint as a significant change.  I do view them as a significant change when we talk about the mass of the building, the size of the building.  But as far as the intensity of the use, I think it's been represented that the increase in the size is driven by what we've talked about already; going from double bed to single bed rooms; going to larger rooms; going to larger suites; going to larger diagnostic and treatment areas.  It's not    I don't believe from the testimony that has been presented, that it's a more intensive use.  So even though the area of those components of the building, including this overall floor area are increasing, I view it as generally equivalent.  Will there be some changes plus or minus?  That's possible. 
But the Master Plan clearly states in the policy that the intensity of use is to be maintained at its current levels.  And again the Master Plan provides various standards to try to ensure that that will happen.
One area in which there is an improvement from existing conditions is a reduction of parking on site.  I know there is some variation in these numbers.  I'm taking my numbers from the last Board of Adjustment approval for the hospital which approved 1,772 parking spaces.  I know I've heard numbers of 1740 used during the hearing.  The key isn't the specific number, and I don't want to get lost in that level of detail.  The point is, is that it's being reduced to 1700.  So there is a slight reduction in onsite parking which relates to traffic, which relates to site activity.
Next, comparing the building mass above grade.  No surprise here, the building above grade is increasing.  Its more than doubling in size from 405,000 square feet to over a million square feet.  One caveat here is that 405,000 square feet came from    some of these numbers by the way, came from a study we did as part of the last Master Plan Amendment.  And there was a table that was submitted to the board.  Some of these numbers came from my review of a survey of the hospital that was dated from 2006, and updated through 2008, there may be minor deviations from that but I believe that's reasonably reflective of current conditions since there's been no applications before the boards during that time that would indicate a significant change.  So there is a significant increase in the building mass above grade. 
Regarding the building coverage, again there's a change in that, again more than doubling the coverage from 128,000 plus square feet, that's based upon 2002 variance approved by the Board of Adjustment, to 288,000 which is what's in the Master Plan. 
Regarding building eight, the existing is    again, this is the tallest buildings on the site; 65 feet including rooftop equipment today, which is a 48 feet high building and 17 foot high rooftop equipment versus the tallest building proposed is the north building which is 94 feet, 70 feet building and 24 feet of rooftop equipment enclosures.  So that's obviously the increase in height. 
Regarding setbacks, the number of ways was proposed is reducing setbacks from existing conditions that somewhat goes along with the building getting bigger.  It's very hard to get bigger without reducing setback.  So, briefly just to recap what those are today.  The setback from Linwood Avenue, the right of way that is, is 227 feet.  That's to the Phillips building, proposed is 200 feet in the Master Plan.  There is no North building today so the    bringing in the North building would obviously reduce light and air in that area.  So I considered that a negative as far as impact goes visually.  Van Dien Avenue, 208 feet to the Cheel building was proposed in the Master Plan of 100 feet.  From Van Dien 125 to the Bergen building.  What's proposed is actually an improvement in this regard, it's 200 feet to the South building which is generally in the same location as the Bergen building.
Regarding the setback to the Phillips building, it's 70 feet from Van Dien was proposed, is an improvement; 85 feet to the parking deck in this case. 
Regarding the setback from the Steilen Avenue properties, again the North building from the Steilen Avenue property, there is no North building today, so there is a reduction of open space in that location.
Regarding the setback to the Cheel building from the back of the Steilen Avenue properties today is 157 feet, what's proposed is a reduction to 70 to 120 feet, based on the height of the building. 
Regarding the Bergen building, today is 217 feet from the Steilen Avenue property.  What's proposed is 130 feet in the Master Plan.
Regarding the setback to the Phillips building, today it's 94 feet to a two section story building and 162 feet to a four story section of the building.  What's proposed is 80 feet to a 40 foot high parking deck.
And then the last setback is from the Ben Franklin property.  Today there's 218 feet from the property to the Cheel building.  What's proposed is obviously a new building in this location, the North building.  The setback would vary from 40 feet to 75 feet. 
So, in many respects the setbacks are getting worse.  In a couple they're getting better.
Improvement coverage, I showed this as improvement today based upon the 2001 site plan from the Board of Adjustment was 83    a little over 83 percent of the lot area or 556,000 plus square feet of improvement coverage.  What's proposed is 469,000 square feet.  Again, there may be some discrepancies in what's counted and what's excluded in these two calculations, so that I have an asterisk in the report noting that.  But the 469,000 in the proposed Master Plan excludes certain things including green roofs, includes covered walkways, sidewalks and patios.
Regarding buffers and landscaping, today there's a 20 foot buffer, and when I say there's a buffer, I mean a planted area.  I'm not referring to a lawn when I talk about a buffer, 20 feet measured from the curb easement, what's proposed is 20 feet from Linwood Avenue, no change.  Van Dien Avenue, today there's a 10 foot planted area along the sidewalk on Van Dien.  What's proposed is a minimum of 20 feet and more for taller buildings that are over 45 feet tall.  So, that's an improvement.
Regarding the buffer from Steilen Avenue properties, today the buffer varies in depth from 8 to 12 feet and there's the 6 to 8 foot high wall with some plantings.  What's proposed from a buffer standpoint is 20 foot, which is an improvement, with a taller wall and plantings.  So I believe that's an improvement on that side.
Regarding Ben Franklin, minor reduction.  Today there's a buffer of 15 feet.  What's proposed is 12 feet.
So, there's a mix.  Some areas are improving, a number of areas that it's not improving as far as the impacts and    these indices, I should say, of impacts.
When the board approved in 2010, many of these were considered and the board felt at that time that on balance, the public benefits of the hospital outweighed those negatives and that on balance, it was worthy to put forth a policy that would allow the expansion. 
Now, we have a different plan.  So the second part of this was to see how things have changed since that plan.  Have they gotten better?  Have they gotten worse? 
So, table two begins on page seven and goes on to page eight, provide that comparison.
Again not a comparison with existing conditions, but a comparison with the prior Master Plan or I should say the current Master Plan versus the proposed.  Many of these are the same.  I'm not going to go through all of the areas where they are the same between the two.  What I am going to do is focus on the areas that have changed.
Regarding intensity of use, total floor area of the hospital has gone down from 1,170,000 square feet to 900,000 square feet.  Both of those figures exclude the parking deck.
Regarding onsite parking, current Master Plan the maximum on site at 2,000 spaces, the proposal in the amendment is 1700.  So again there's an improvement in that regards.
Regarding the building setbacks, the current Master Plan has a setback from Linwood Avenue of 200 feet, as does the proposed Master Plan.  However, the current Master Plan measures that from the road widening easement whereas the proposed Master Plan has it being measured from the Linwood Avenue right of way.  That effectively is a 10 foot reduction.  I don't know whether that was the intent, and I've put in my report that I think the board should find out, get some clarification on that from the hospital.  But if that stands    if that remains as stated, it would reflect a 10 foot reduction in setback from Linwood Avenue.
Regarding the setbacks from Van Dien Avenue, two areas it's improved, the other areas it's remained the same.  The setback, I shouldn't say the setback has improved, but the West and the South buildings keep the same setback, but they're lower in height.  So the visual effect is actually less for those two buildings than it would be under the current Master Plan which has five story buildings with the same setbacks than what's proposed, which is four story building.  So, again I view that as an improvement. 
Regarding setbacks from Steilen Avenue, in one way it's improved, in another way it's gotten worse.  The setback from the North building has increased, it's just a flat 60 feet in the current Master Plan, whereas in the proposal it's 70 feet for buildings up to 45 feet and 120 feet for buildings greater than 45 feet.  So an improvement in the setback in that location. 
Regarding the setback of the Cheel building, it's currently 120 feet in the Master Plan and the proposal would have it at 70 feet for buildings up to 45 feet high and 120 feet for buildings over 45 feet.  And I believe the reason for this was    is related to the    I mentioned earlier about elimination of a subbasement as one of the changes between this plan and the last plan.  And I think in the elimination of the basement, some of that space had to go on the above ground and it went in this location (indicating) and that I believe, and the hospital can confirm that, that's what resulted in the reduction of setback.
Then regarding improvement coverage, there's a change    the current Master Plan says 60 percent of the lot area.  And that's based upon buildings with paved areas, but it excludes green roofs and landscaped areas.  The proposal is 70 percent of the lot area and that excludes green roofs, walkways, sidewalks and patios. 
In trying to understand the reason for this change, I reviewed the prior hearing testimony from the 2010 amendment and looked at the various exhibits and documents.
And much of this, I think, is explained in the fact that when we adopted the 2010 amendment, the 60 percent coverage figure was reflecting phase two of the development, where the improvement coverage goes down; whereas in the proposed amendment, the figure is reflecting phase one of the development, where improvement coverage is higher.
My review of the prior record indicated that coverage at phase one was 67 to 68 percent of the lot area, whereas today it's 70.  So there is still a minor increase in    even at phase one in the improvement coverage and I'm not sure whether that's a difference in what's included and what's excluded, whether it's a miscalculation or what.  You might ask for clarification on that from the hospital.
So, there have been both improvements and reductions when you compare the two Master Plans.
And I have a number of qualifiers regarding both those tables and that is the figure in table two represents the worst case for each component. 
It's    in preparing the Master Plan, the thinking was if the hospital is seeking a plan that will give them rights to develop something, to establish a standard that would require them to get a variance, didn't make much sense. 
So the standards show what the worst would be at phase one and what the worst would be at phase two and takes the worst of the two.  So what this means however, is that there's not     I don't want to use that term again, but there's not an apples and apples comparison of each phase.  It's sort of a hybrid of phases one and two in those tables. 
So, if you were to do a comparison that just showed phase one and just showed phase two, the numbers would be somewhat different.  In some ways they wouldn't be, but in some ways they would be different.  That includes, you know, the floor area of the building, the mass of the building, the building coverage, the setbacks to the West building and the South building. 
What I'm saying is that what the tables are presenting is somewhat of a worst case scenario in certain respects, particularly like improvement coverage, it's going down in phase two, but the table shows that it as phase one.  Again, phase two is something that is distant, in the future, it may not happen.  So I felt it was more logical to show phase one which is much more certain from a current    when it comes to improvement coverage.
I also provide a comparison of the improvement coverage in the two phases based upon current Master Plan and proposed amendment? 
Current Master Plan, again, based upon my review of the record, anticipated improvement coverage of 67 to 68 percent at the completion of phase one, whereas the proposed amendment is 70 percent.  So it's a minor increase in improvement coverage. 
Phase two, the current Master Plan says 60 percent of the lot area, and the proposed amendment based upon exhibits that were presented to the board, indicate a 64 percent in phase two.  So, again, an increase    and I'm not sure of the reason for that increase, and again I'm asking for clarification of that calculation, because it may not be an apples to apples comparison of what was included in that coverage and what was not included.
Both plans didn't include everything.
Again we were dealing with concepts and the only thing we could estimate at the time of the preparation of the Master Plan were buildings and paved areas, meaning parking areas and driveways and loading areas. 
We couldn't estimate how much sidewalk area there would be and green roofs and so forth.  So they weren't included in those numbers. 
But even so, even with this, I'm seeing an increase and I'm not sure of the reason for that.
The table says 94 feet is the proposed building height.  And it is in the Master Plan, however, that's the only building that's at that height.  Other buildings are going to be lower in height, that's five stories at 14 feet per floor, that's 70 feet plus 14 foot    I mean a 24 foot rooftop enclosure area, that's how we get to the 94 feet. 
The four story buildings would be four times 14 is 56, plus that same 24, and you throw in a one foot factor for sloping, area to calculate building height.  And we end up with buildings that are 81 feet.  So they're somewhat lower by one floor.
And, of course, the parking deck is 45 feet, so even though the table says 94 feet, I don't want everyone thinking that that's for the whole facility.
There was a proposal by the hospital to include a policy statement in the Master Plan that would limit the amount of fifth floor area to the area of the North building.  In the preparation of the plan that didn't make it in, that was an omission.  But it's my recommendation that if the board were to adopt the plan, that that be included in, to limit the amount of floor area that could be five stories or above. 
Again, I already mentioned the issue regarding the setback from Linwood Avenue, I'm not sure of the reason for the change.  The numbers the same, but where you measure it from has changed.  And I don't know if that was intended or not. 
And, again, I mention the caveat on the buffer depth.  In some cases, the setback to actual pavement is far, far greater than what I have represented in the table as a buffer depth.  And as a buffer depth I meant a planted area and I don't mean grass planted, I mean trees.  But in some cases, the parking areas and driveways are set back significantly further from the property line than represented in the table. 
Today, the Master Plan has no policy statement on parking setbacks for the hospital.  What I'm suggesting here is that it might be an appropriate thing to include because when preparing the ordinance, you want to know whether it's consistent with the Master Plan and if there is some standards that relate to setbacks, not just to buildings, but of pavement areas and increased green area, that would help strengthen that component of the plan.
So, in looking at those two tables, you can see that one thing that jumps out at you is the size of the building.  And there's no question about it, that the size of the building, in relation to the size of the site, is probably the number one issue that I see from looking at the detrimental impacts that would result.  And, again, this is somewhat contextual. 
Mr. May has indicated that the same size occurs in other communities and there's been lots of debate back and forth as to whether those are fair comparisons or not, it's a very difficult thing.  Certainly if this size building were in Manhattan, no one would think twice about it.  But in a suburb community like Ridgewood, it's certainly viewed considerably differently, in the mind's eye. 
And I've indicated in my report that the hospital is a one of a kind use in the Village.  There is no comparison to make with the hospital in the Village.  It's the largest scale development in the Village for a single property.  And, so, it's difficult to say:  Okay, well, we already have another building over here of similar size and therefore    and I'm trying to avoid comparisons with other municipalities because I am aware of the pitfall of apples to apples.  And we can debate that till the cows come home.
And as I said at the last meeting, even if I were to find a mirror image of Valley Hospital in another suburban community, I'm sure the question would be, that doesn't make it right, does it? 
So, I'm trying not to go there.  All I'm trying to say is that there has to be some recognition that there is no real comparable in the Village for a facility of this size and scale. 
I have done some analysis of the other non residential zones in the Village of Ridgewood and the standards for those zones.  And there's no big surprise there that in many ways what's proposed here greatly exceeds what we would permit in other nonresidential zones.
I look at floor area ratios, and what we permit elsewhere in the other nonresidential zones is    varies from 25 percent to 65 percent of the lot, whereas what's proposed here is floor area ratio would be 134 percent.  And the building mass, which includes the parking deck, whereas floor area ratio does not, is 153 percent.  So, it's significantly larger than what we permit elsewhere, on a ratio of lot size that is. 
The height is also larger.  What we permit in other zones ranges from 35 to 50 feet not including rooftop equipment.  What's proposed here ranges from 45 feet for the deck to 57 feet for the West and South building, plus the rooftop equipment of 24 feet and 70 feet for the North building, plus the rooftop equipment.  So these buildings, some of them anyway, are taller than what we permit in other zones. 
On the other hand, the building coverage that is proposed is from    on a percentage basis, comparable to the range that we permit in other zones.  We permit today a range of 20 percent to in some cases they don't have a standard at all, but other factors limit how much building coverage you can have. 
So, for example, if there is a maximum floor area ratio of 50 percent, but no building coverage standard, a one story building could not exceed 50 percent building coverage because that would also be limited to floor area ratio.  So I estimated, based upon other things, but a range of 20 to 65 percent is what we permit in other nonresidential zones for building coverage. 
What's proposed here is 43 percent, so it's within the range of the Village of Ridgewood what it permits for nonresidential use.
Regarding setbacks, the setbacks in the front yard are significantly greater in the Hospital's proposal than what we require in other zones for nonresidential use.  Generally in the Village, the front yards vary, the minimum front yards vary from zero in the downtown area to 70 feet in the most restrictive zone, that's front yard. 
The H zone, itself, today only requires a front yard of 40 feet.  What's proposed ranges from 85 to 200 feet in the H zone.  So while the building is taller and the building is bigger, the setback, at least from the street, is also greater.
Regarding the side and rear yard setbacks, it's sort of a mixed story here.  What's proposed in the Master Plan for the H zone is lesser than some nonresidential uses, but greater than others. 
In the Village today in the nonresidential zones we have side and    minimum side and rear yard requirements that are anywhere from zero in the downtown area to 50 feet, and in some cases, three times the building height. 
What's proposed    in fact that's the standard today in the H zone, is three times the building height for side and rear yard. 
Whereas what's proposed for the side and rear yard ranges from 40 to 130 feet in the H zone.  So it's greater than it is required in a number of zones, but it's certainly not three times the building height.
And then looking at improvement coverage, what's proposed here is within, actually, believe it or not, the lower range of improvement coverage that we permit for nonresidential use in the Village. 
Today, depending upon where you are, that range is from 65 to 100 percent of the lot area.  What's proposed here ranges from 64 percent in phase two to 70 percent in phase one.  And, again, there are certain qualifiers with that, that need to be addressed. 
So, as I indicated earlier on in the report, the question is if the proposal drawn with reasonable consideration to the character of the district and its particular suitability for particular uses and to encourage the most appropriate use of land.  In one way I look at this is to say that if you're going to permit a hospital, the standards for a hospital need to be reasonable for that use. 
Same with any other use, if you're going to put in a single family dwelling, the standards have to allow reasonable development of the single family dwelling.  It would make no sense to allow use and then hamstring it by not allowing it to develop in a normal fashion. 
So, that's a consideration that the board needs to include in its balancing of whether this is an appropriate standard and policy for the hospital zone.  I've indicated that    already that I think the proposed facility viewed in isolation is reasonably sized, given the number of beds and industry standards for hospitals. 
On the other hand when you look at it in this location, as I said already that the height mass, the setbacks, there is no getting around it.  It's one of a kind in the Village.  And in many ways its larger scale and a taller building than anything we have by significant margins. 
So, that's    that's the key of the balancing, I think, that needs to be done by the board, is to look at the positives and negatives. 
Much of that focus has been on what I would call typical zoning policies. 
I then, in my report, go through a number of other potential negative detriments and I comment on my opinion as to each of those based upon the record to date. 
The first of those is traffic, and both the Hospital's expert and the Board's expert have indicated that provided that there is off site relocation of certain aspects of the facility, and there is a cap on the number of onsite parking spaces and a shuttling of employees from off site parking to the hospital, that there should actually be a reduction in the amount of site generated traffic, regarding    that's the volume of traffic. 
Regarding the flow and safety of traffic, there's a number of proposals for street improvements including signalization and other improvements that are proposed that, again, the expert testimony as indicated, will actually improve traffic flow and provide reasonable traffic safety within the area. 
I don't    in my perspective, I don't view traffic as a significant detriment at this point and time, based upon the testimony that I've seen.
Regarding site illumination, the Master Plan has a number of policy statements regarding site illumination, including limiting the height of fixtures, shielding the fixtures, in some cases limiting nighttime activities so no illumination is needed. 
And I believe that if those are implemented in a reasonable fashion, that the impact from site illumination will have been mitigated within reasonable levels.  There will always be some effective illumination, there's no getting around that.
Regarding noise, I comment that the Hospital's proposal has made some efforts to mitigate noise impact, particularly in the area of the loading docks whereby a sound barrier is proposed as well as a roofing enclosure of loading areas.  I think that will help mitigate for some of the noise impacts, to residents on Steilen Avenue.
One recommendation that I have here is that the Village have the authority to require a sound barrier, not just in the area of the loading docks, but along the entire rear of the Steilen Avenue properties. 
We discussed this in the last hearing series that resulted in the 2010 Master Plan, and I'd like to keep that option open.  I think it would depend upon the details at site plan review.  But I would want the Master Plan to reflect that that is something that the Village may require, if appropriate.  I know there's a balancing there that maybe the residents on Steilen Avenue would rather not have a tall wall right at the property line or near the property line, but that's something that I think could be dealt with at the time of site plan review. 
And, again, the reasons for that is largely to deal with noise effects because that's where most of the truck traffic to the hospital is going, at the rear of those properties.
Regarding general noise, the hospital is, like any facility, so they have to abide by state noise control standards.  And that includes noise from HVAC equipment, which again is in an enclosure, so the simple answer is they have to comply with that.  And if they do comply with that, then I don't think there's anything more that can be asked regarding the noise from equipment and operation.
Regarding construction, extensive testimony, and I don't want to go into a lot of detail on that, that's not my area of expertise.  But both the Board's expert and the Hospital's expert have gone into detail about issues:  Such as dewatering; such as settling; such as truck traffic; such as bedrock excavation; such as pollution, noise, smoke and so forth.  And while there will be impacts, there's no getting around that, I feel that the measures proposed, again, assuming they're implemented appropriately and monitored and enforced, have done all that they can do to mitigate those construction impacts.  But there will be impacts. 
It's impossible, not just for the hospital, but for any construction project to not have any impacts.  There will be truck traffic on area streets.  There will be noise that's unavoidable.  You mitigate it to a certain extent, but there will be some impact.
Regarding the environmental impact, regarding stormwater runoff and the effect upon the area water table, from what I saw in the expert testimony there will be no unreasonable or inappropriate impact from those aspects of the development that those can be mitigated and addressed and that some proper technologies are followed.
So I'm coming now to my conclusions and my recommendations.  Again, the keyword here, I think, is going to be the balancing test.  There is both pros for this proposal, related to public benefits, like to improvement, not just in healthcare, but improving conditions at the facility.  And there's areas in which there is clearly going to have greater impacts than currently today, if this were implemented.  And the board is going to have to balance those impacts.
I have a number of specific proposals that I would recommend be addressed or included in the Master Plan.  And one of them is the issue of phase two.  It's been stated on a number of occasions, that phase two may never occur or it may be very far off, and because what's in the Master Plan includes both phases, there's not a clear identification in my mind of what happens if phase two doesn't get built.  And by that I mean how would this table, how would that evaluation, that comparison    in some ways certain benefits would be lost.  In some ways certain detriments would be lost.
But without that    without more detailed information, I don't feel that a full comparison can be provided if phase two didn't happen. 
And so I think that's something that the board should consider whether it wants to include as part of its deliberation.
I already mentioned the issue of the amount of improvement coverage, and what's included and what's excluded from the figures. 
I've already mentioned the issue of the setback from Linwood Avenue whether that was an inadvertent mistake in calculating the setback differently than in the current Master Plan or whether it was intentional.
I've already indicated, and I suggest, that the Hospital's proposal to limit the amount of building floor area that can exceed four stories or 57 feet in height be included in the plan, it was left out by mistake. 
And then the    I'm suggesting that the plan include some language that deals with parking setbacks, not just buffers but actual setbacks to pavement, which I consider to be a different thing.
And then the    the wall along the rear of the Steilen Avenue properties that, I think the plan should include statement to reflect that that be an option to be imposed as appropriate to be determined at the time of site plan approval. 
So that is my report.  And I would be happy to try to answer any questions. 
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Blais, thank you for a thorough report.  Its 9:15, and I think some folks could benefit from a break.
So why don't we say we'll resume at 9:30 promptly.  Thank you.
All in favor?
All those in favor?
(Whereupon, all Board Members respond in the affirmative.)
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Anybody opposed?
(NO RESPONSE.) 
(Whereupon, a brief recess is taken.)
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Ladies and gentlemen, we're about to begin.
Okay.  We just concluded Blais' fine report and testimony covering a good number of issues so at this time I'd like to ask the board to offer your questions   
MS. PRICE:  Roll call.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Yes, do the roll call again.
MS. PRICE:  Yes.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Attendance    or excuse me    questions regarding his testimony.
So before we begin, Jane, a roll call please? 
MS. WONDERGEM:  Mayor Aronsohn?
MAYOR ARONSOHN:  Here.
MS. WONDERGEM:  Ms. Bigos? 
MR. BIGOS:  Here.
MS. WONDERGEM:  Mr. Nalbantian?
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Here.
MS. WONDERGEM:  Mr. Hurley?
MR. HURLEY:  Here. 
MS. WONDERGEM:  Mr. Reilly?
MR. REILLY:  Here. 
MS. WONDERGEM:  Mr. Joel?
VICE CHAIRMAN JOEL:  Here.
MS. WONDERGEM:  Ms. Dockray?
MS. DOCKRAY:  Here.
MS. WONDERGEM:  Ms. Peters?
MS. PETERS:  Here.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thank you, Jane.
Everyone is here.  So why don't we begin, Michele, if you have questions for Blais? 
MS. PETERS:  Oh, sure. 
First of all, Blais, I thank you so much.  It was an excellent, excellent report and very in depth.  And I feel the comments always about the balancing act that we are in the midst of, I think you did a really wonderful in depth job in discussing the fors and against.  And I greatly appreciate the charts that you created here. 
I did want to just    just for myself, get a little clarity, and it had to do with the traffic.  And if I could just repeat, and this is really refreshing my recollection, we had one of our traffic experts commented that currently the traffic at the hospital, around the hospital area is for a facility the size of what is being proposed.  Now is it true that, I believe the Valley Hospital's testimony has been, that they're removing a great many of the services that are creating that traffic off site.  I believe these would be the    the outpatient services are being moved off site.  And in this respect it's going to reduce the traffic. 
Am I correct in remembering that? 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  I think the reduction in traffic is created by two things.  Part of it is relocation of facilities to offsite locations. 
I think it's also the limitation of parking on the site and requiring that offsite parking be used to address the parking needs.
And, thereby, if you can get six or eight people or ten people in a shuttle van instead of ten cars, you're reducing traffic that way as well, so I think it's twofold. 
MS. PETERS:  Okay.  Thank you. 
That's it.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Okay.  Thank you, Michele.
MS. PETERS:  And thank you.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Wendy? 
MS. DOCKRAY:  Okay.  Blais, on page three when you went through the Sica criteria, I just have a question on that. 
Are we obligated to apply the Sica criteria or is this your suggestion? 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Technically, it's a legal question that   
MS. PRICE:  Yes.
MR. BRANCHEAU:     that when I help people plan, I wouldn't say that we follow this literally every time.  I think what keyed me into it in this case was:  A, we're dealing with inherently beneficial use, which many zoning is not.  And the Sica case dealt with an inherently beneficial use.  And then, secondly, in looking at it, it struck me as very similar to the process that we are following and followed with the last Amendment of trying to see both sides and balance the pros and cons. 
So, literally, technically no, we're not required to follow it.  But I thought it was appropriate and that's why I structured my presentation on it.
MS. DOCKRAY:  So you structured your presentation around it?
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Yes.
MS. DOCKRAY:  In terms of guiding our thinking?  Yes?
MR. BRANCHEAU:  I'm sorry.  I didn't hear   
MS. DOCKRAY:  In terms of guiding our thinking or our approach?
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Yes.  Yes. 
MS. DOCKRAY:  Okay.  But it's not a requirement then   
MR. BRANCHEAU:  No, like I said there is no strict legal book as to this is the process you follow.
MS. DOCKRAY:  Okay. 
Moving over to page six, I'm a little confused on building setbacks for the North building, I believe, where you show pink, one, two, three, four, five, six    six blocks down, you have 70 feet less than 40 feet high and 120 greater than 40 feet high.  Okay.
When I    I remember looking at the proposal, Valley's proposal, and I was pretty sure that the setbacks from Steilen were roughly 70 feet to the North building and not 120.
Are you sure of that? 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Instead of the    this is    just to make sure that I'm looking at the same page   
MS. DOCKRAY:  And the North building is the 94 foot building, right?
MR. BRANCHEAU:  The North building is 94 including the rooftop equipment.
MS. DOCKRAY:  Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU:  So are you looking    you're at page six, are you looking at   
MS. DOCKRAY:  Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU:     at the Cheel building? 
MS. DOCKRAY:  No.  I'm looking at    it says "NA."
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Yes.
MS. DOCKRAY:  And then over on the right   
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Okay.
MS. DOCKRAY:     this is the sixth block down it says if the building is less than 40 feet high the setback    where it's less than 40 feet high, the setback is 70.  And where it is greater than 45 feet high, the setback is 120. 
And I    what I'm saying is when I look at the proposal, the layout, I was pretty sure that the setback along the eastern side, the Steilen side of the North building was totally no more than 70 feet, I never saw 120. 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  The    the taller portion of the building is what's 120.  The lower portion, near the loading docks is 70. 
MS. DOCKRAY:  Oh, okay.
MR. BRANCHEAU:  And, again, I'm not doing this based upon a site plan.  I'm doing this based upon standards in the Master Plan.
MS. DOCKRAY:  Uh huh.
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Those standards, I believe, are generally reflective of the site plan.
But there may be some deviations in certain locations, but the standards in this table that I'm using, except for existing conditions which do reflect the site plan, the existing site plan, those standards that are    I'm preparing are merely policy standards in the plan not    not measurements to a building.
MS. DOCKRAY:  Okay.  So probably my recollection is that the loading dock is 70 feet.
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Yes, I mean I have the plans here.  There's a diagram     
MS. DOCKRAY:  Yes.  So that's, you know, I just... 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  That mentions the   
MS. DOCKRAY:  Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU:     shows the 70 and the 120.
MS. DOCKRAY:  Okay.  Thank you.
I was just a little confused by that because I remember measuring it out and    and thinking it was around 70 or 80 feet.  Okay.
Nowhere in your report, I mean this is an amazing report, and it's very helpful in terms of how it's structured, thank you for doing it this way actually, do you talk about the heights of the buildings in the adjacent property.  And I think in terms of, you know, setting the context for the height of the    the height and the mass of the hospital, that that's an important factor. 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  I don't mention that in the report.  I do mention that it's a single family neighborhood except for the school.
MS. DOCKRAY:  Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Single family homes typically are at a range of 30 to 35 feet high.  I don't know what the height of Ben Franklin is, the school. 
MS. DOCKRAY:  Right, I think that's what, two stories?  Well we're in it. 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Yes, I don't know   
MS. DOCKRAY:  Look around.
MR. BRANCHEAU:  I don't know    I don't know the dimensions, though, or the height as far as how many feet.
MS. DOCKRAY:  Right, right.  But I don't think it's higher than 35 feet, do you?  Not much?
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Don't know. 
MS. DOCKRAY:  No, but don't    in terms of considering the height of the hospital, I think that's an important consideration in terms of the impact, do you not?
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Well, it's certainly taller than buildings around it, I did, you know, mention that context is important.  I mentioned, you know, that if we were doing this in Manhattan we would be looking at it totally differently than looking at it in Ridgewood. 
On the other hand    to some extent, yes, it's relevant.
MS. DOCKRAY:  Okay.
MR. BRANCHEAU:  But on the other hand I did mention that if you are going to permit a hospital, you have to have standards that are reasonable for a hospital.  And the standards that are reasonable for a single family dwelling are probably not the same standards   
MS. DOCKRAY:  No, I wouldn't expect   
MR. BRANCHEAU:     a hospital would follow   
MS. DOCKRAY:  Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU:  So While I acknowledge that context is important, at the same time there's an aspect of saying, you know, some compromise between the two is probably the best you're going to get, you know, to    to require the hospital not be more than 35 feet would probably be   
MS. DOCKRAY:  I'm not    I'm not proposing that. 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  No, I know, I'm just saying context is important   
MS. DOCKRAY:  Right.
MR. BRANCHEAU:     clearly acknowledged that.
MS. DOCKRAY:  Okay.  Thank you, that's my    the end of my questions.  Thank you.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thank you, Wendy.
MR. REILLY:  Yeah, sure, Blais, it's a very handy guide as I go through the transcripts and the evidence, this    these tables you have put it in perspective. 
I    I particularly like that you're comparing not only to what's currently allowable under the current Master Plan, of course the Master Plan that's currently allowable isn't in effect, but it's useful, I think, to what's actually there right.  The greatest observable difference between what's there now and what's being proposed in the amendment.
So I like the way you have all three scenarios lined up and the introductory material is very helpful too. 
Thank you.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thank you, Kevin.
Richard? 
VICE CHAIRMAN JOEL:  Thank you, Blais, for your hard work on this, again, for the tables and it puts it in context where you lay it out the existing conditions, proposed and then you have the existing    current Master Plan.  So I guess our job is going to be a tough balancing act to determine which way it weighs down in favor, public interest and then the detrimental effects.  And if the mitigation or reduction is going to, you know, be enough to balance in that    in the favor of one way or the other, so I guess we just have to use our reasonable judgment just take into account all those factors when we make our decision and deliberate on this. 
Are you comfortable with all of the information you've received to date?  Is there anything that you're lacking in at all, do you think? 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Other than what I've mentioned, I'm comfortable.
VICE CHAIRMAN JOEL:  Okay.
MR. BRANCHEAU:  You know my suggestions and recommendations at the end there are a few areas that I think will be helpful if we had clarification on.
VICE CHAIRMAN JOEL:  And do you know of any similar hospital renovations anywhere in New Jersey that you've kind of looked at to give context to this? 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Well, again, I'm    I'm leery to go there, but for many years I was planning consultant to the Borough of Somerville.  And Somerville is home to Somerset Medical Center.  And I went through a process quite similar to this one in Somerville, where Somerset Medical Center is single family homes on at least two sides, I think there was multi family on the third side and I think there was a mixture of uses on the fourth side.
And they went through a major expansion, this goes back probably ten years or so now, maybe a little more. 
And many of the same issues were faced there. 
VICE CHAIRMAN JOEL:  Okay.  But it kind of sensitized you to help you in drafting this I'm sure.  And we get the benefit of that.
But, you know, I guess we just have to look at the size, this will be like a tripling of the mass, no? 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  I forget the exact numbers, but it's at least doubling.  Though I have mass as existing at 405 and again    405,000 that is whereas proposed is just over a million.  I'm not sure that they all include or exclude the same things, so it may not be exactly comparable, but the order of magnitude is twice or more.
VICE CHAIRMAN JOEL:  Okay.  All right.  Thanks for your help, Blais.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Blais, Two quick questions, one with regard    you know, it's always a difficult situation to maintain operations and relocate buildings before others are torn down, but mindful of the point you're raising here with respect to the setbacks on both Van Dien and Steilen is changing, not necessarily in favor of the neighbors on that side.  Specifically, Steilen Avenue and the mitigation of that with a larger wall and the proper location of that wall as it relates to planting buffers will that, in your view, serve as an effective reduction of noise for the neighbors on Steilen Avenue?
MR. BRANCHEAU:  I think it'll be effective.  I think that between the roofing of the loading area, the enclosure of the loading area, the installation of the sound barrier and the increased buffer of 20 feet that there will be a beneficial effect from that.  I do have the recommendation, though, that if the opportunity is there and if it would provide a benefit as reasonable, that that wall be extended.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thank you.
Mayor? 
MAYOR ARONSOHN:  Thank you, Blais.  We're used to thanking you for all the work we throw at you and the products you sort of throw back at us, but I think you've really gone above and beyond with this one.  This is, arguably, one of the most important documents we'll have in this process.  I think it's going to be a tremendous resource for all of us, the public, the board, both in terms of its content and the way you've structured it so I want to thank you for that.
Because it's so important, I would ask, Mr. Chairman, if maybe    I don't know how many comments from the public we're going to get tonight, but maybe we could carry this over a little bit because I know I'd like some time to digest this and maybe come back with some questions for Blais at some point.  I don't know if that's possible. 
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Well, let's see how this evening goes   
MAYOR ARONSOHN:  Okay.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:     and we should have opportunity for follow up questions.
MAYOR ARONSOHN:  Yes, because I definitely I    I know as one Board member I would like an opportunity to read through this and sort of study it a little bit more.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  I think it's getting close to 10, we have another meeting tomorrow.  We might be able to begin, depending on where we are tonight, with public questions, I doubt we would get through everybody. 
MAYOR ARONSOHN:  All right.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  So, we would probably carry, and then we could, again, allow the board to ask follow up questions after then. 
MAYOR ARONSOHN:  That would be great, I appreciate that. 
I do have one question and it might have been for Mr. May, I'm going to throw it at Blais and tell me if I am throwing it at the wrong person.
I'm wondering if you know of any examples of hospitals that have gone through a similar renovation, perhaps to enlarge, you know, diagnostic and treatment rooms to go from double beds to single beds?  Do you know of any examples of hospitals that have done this, but have actually decreased the number of beds in their hospital? 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  No, I don't.  I'm not saying they're not there, I just don't know of any.
MAYOR ARONSOHN:  Because that would be useful I mean if we could see it.  I mean, again, I know we don't do comparisons here, but it would be an interesting thing to see if that's even possible because that's obviously the one issue that's been on my mind and other people's minds is whether or not, when we talk about size, when we look at these issues, whether in fact it has to be the same bed    number of beds or maybe it can be smaller, I don't    I don't know.  I don't know if it's been done.  I don't know of any hospital that has ever sort of walked down that path.  But if it's at all possible, I'd appreciate that kind of information. 
Thank you. 
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Morgan. 
MR. HURLEY:  Yes.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 
Thank you, Blais, for a great job as usual.  I don't have any questions.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Nancy? 
MS. BIGOS:  Thank you, Blais. 
I'm most grateful for this accumulation of official facts and figures. 
I think that I really needed, this report provides for me an excellent summation of what has been presented from both sides and the middle.  So I think that this is a great document for me and an unbiased document. 
I also find that the conclusions and the recommendations are beneficial, primarily where you outline the detrimental impacts and how to mitigate those moving forward, so thank you. 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  You're welcome. 
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thank you, Blais.
Gail, do you have any questions for Blais? 
MS. PRICE:  No.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Mr. Drill? 
MR. DRILL:  I just have one question.
EXAMINATION
BY MR. DRILL:
Q. Blais, you referenced in your report, I think it's on page two, the Municipal Land Use Law provision section 62A.  Am I right that the reason you're referencing that as the standard, because in the event that the board grants the Master Plan Amendment and then it goes to an ordinance, that's the provision which would govern  
A. Yes.
Q.    what goes into the ordinance?
A. Correct.
Q. Okay.  And then I guess I have one follow up.  I also assume that you would agree that section 28 of the MLUL, which governs the adoption and amendment of the Master Plan, would apply, correct? 
A. Yes.
Q. And I'm just reading from it, I just want to know that this is also your understanding that what it provides is the Planning Board may prepare, adopt or amend a Master Plan or a component thereof, which would include a Land Use Plan Element like this one in a manner, and I'm quoting, “which protects public health and safety and promotes the general welfare". 
That's correct?
A. Yes.
MR. DRILL:  I have no further questions. 
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thank you. 
That reminded me, Blais, of a question I had.  Earlier in your report you referred to, again let me find it, public benefit    community or public benefit. 
How do you distinguish the difference between the broader community and the municipality as it relates to that requirement? 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  How do you distinguish them?  I think both are important. 
There's    a municipality is not obligated to plan only for the needs within its own community, but to accommodate the needs of a larger region.  If no community accepted certain uses, they wouldn't be able to go anywhere.  If no community accepted, for example, uses that are exempt from property taxes, what would happen?  Affordable housing is another case where the state says, you know, there's a need    there's a need beyond your borders that needs to be included within your borders. 
So, in one sense, the healthcare needs of the region need to be considered in the Board's deliberations.  But at the same time, you only have, to some extent, control over what happens within your own borders.  So    and what happens within your own borders you're obviously most knowledgeable about and most sensitive to.  So it's a combination of both.  Both the needs and the goals of the local community as well as the needs of one or two regions, so that applies not only to healthcare needs but, you know, we're all familiar with where a town might do something on their border that affects their adjacent neighbor and the law includes a requirement that, for example, when you pass an ordinance or a Master Plan Amendment within a certain distance of a municipal border, you have to notify them so they know what's going on.  And you have to take into account the incompatibility or compatibility of what you're doing with what is in the neighbor.  And the traffic that gets generated by a certain development, how it might affect the neighboring community streets or stormwater flow and the flooding that occurs in your town is going to go downstream and affect another town.  So there's a lot of ways in which planning and zoning and development impact one town that are effected by other municipalities.  So this is no different that than certainly the healthcare needs of the region have to be considered in your    in your deliberations.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Is there any difference in how you would treat that for an inherently beneficial use versus something that isn't? 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  To the extent of what you're talking about, they say hospitals, every town doesn't have a hospital, you know, whereas you're talking about a convenience store, you know, it would probably be a little different.  Whereas, you know, you may not look at the larger region if you're talking about should we permit convenience store in this location, you might if it were near a border, but the land use patterns in that area of an adjacent town you might consider in your deliberations.  But you're talking about a large scale use such as the hospital that serves a larger area, it's almost necessarily involved both with what happens in your own town and the whole region.  And it's really different in some ways than other uses. 
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thanks, Blais. 
Before I suggest that we open to public questioning, are there any last minute questions from the board for this evening? 
(NO RESPONSE.)
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  No?  Okay. 
How many people have questions for Blais with regard to his testimony tonight, a show of hands?  Okay.
What we'll do is we will begin the process, we'll continue until 20 after at which time we will stop and then carry follow up questions to the next meeting.
So is there a motion to open to public question? 
VICE CHAIRMAN JOEL:  Motion to open.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Is there a second?
MR. HURLEY:  Second.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  All in favor?
(Whereupon, all Board Members respond in the affirmative.)
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Why don't we form a line, you know you can come up as you will but why don't we get the first few folks up.  You have three questions, one at a time.  If you can do all three questions and allow Blais to address them after you've asked all three.  If there is a need to repeat the questions, Laura will repeat them.  So why don't you start with your name, spell your name and your address please.
MR. ROTH:  Okay.  My name is Steven Roth, I'm at 217 Sollas Court.  Oh, Steven with a "v", 217 Sollas Court.  It's spelled S o l l a s in Ridgewood.
First question is you made a reference to proposed street improvements and I was wondering, aside from the    the traffic lights that you mentioned, what they were?  That's my first question.
Second question was you referenced a number of parking spaces, the number of valet parking spaces is never    was never defined, so the question is do you know the number of valet parking spaces before and after?  And I would want to point out that I could reduce the number of on site parking plus valet parking from 2,000 to 1,700 just by eliminating    by increasing the number of valet parking spaces by 300.  So in other words we need to know what that number is.
The third question, which may not be appropriate for you but was mentioned in this so I'll forgive you if you can't answer it, is there was a certificate of need issued by the state    I'm looking for it here, okay    issued a certificate of need for 454 beds for The Valley Hospital in this location.  And the question is how is a location identified by the state?  How do they specify:  We need those beds in this location versus another location nearby.
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Thank you, Mr. Roth. 
MR. ROTH:  Those are my question.
MR. BRANCHEAU:  I'll answer the last one first, I don't know.  You were right. 
MR. ROTH:  Should I stand here or...
MR. BRANCHEAU:  As to the valet parking, it's my understanding that the amount of valet parking is to remain the same and that would probably be put in the ordinance or it could even be put in the plan, it was a fair question.  The exact number, it's my understanding of how the valet is working at the hospital is that some of the striped spaces are also valet spaces, so when I say there's 1700 spaces proposed that's a maximum and there is 1772 today.  Some of those are used as valet parking.  It's not just in addition to.  Also there is some valet parking that occurs in the aisle, like stacked parking, like you go to a parking garage in Manhattan and they, you know, they have a valet.  You can't get to your car, they have to move several cars to get your car out.  And I think the same thing is happening at the hospital. 
So, it's not just added to the 1,700, there's an overlap.  There are some valet vehicles I should say, parked vehicles, that are not in striped spaces and those are in addition to the 1700.  And they're also in addition to the 1772 today.  My understanding is that that amount of parking is not proposed to change, but it's a fair question.  Could it change?  Yeah.  And I think we would need to specify something to deal with that. 
MR. ROTH:  Okay.  Just can I   
MR. BRANCHEAU:  How many that is?  I don't remember.  I don't know if I even know the exact number, I may have seen it somewhere, but I'm going to guess it's somewhere in the range of 40 to 70 spaces, maybe even up to 100 at a peak time.
MR. ROTH:  And they're blocked off and they were empty a few weeks ago when we went there looking for a space.  They are blocked off, so I doubt that they will be multiple use and shared. 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Let me answer your street improvement   
MR. ROTH:  Okay.
MR. BRANCHEAU:     question. 
The Master Plan on page nine contains a number of traffic and street improvement recommendations.  One is a dedicated left turn on Van Dien Avenue southbound at the intersection of Linwood, that would be along the hospital's frontage.  So coming south from Ben Franklin towards Linwood Avenue, they would have a left turn lane dedicated so they could go east on Linwood Avenue towards Route 17.  Second is a signal improvement at the intersection of Linwood and Van Dien, which you mentioned.  Third, synchronization of the signal timing at the intersections of Linwood and Van Dien and Linwood and North Pleasant.  My understanding of that is that if you go through one light you'll get backed up at the next one, with the timing synchronized so you can keep going through.  The
fourth is a traffic    installation of a new traffic signal at the intersection of North Van Dien, Red Birch and East Glen Avenues where there's no signals at all today.  Fifth is improved crosswalks and pedestrian crossings signalization at Linwood and Van Dien, the intersection.  And then, sixth, improvements and/or controls for turning movements at the intersection of John Street at Linwood Avenue.  The details of that have not yet been resolved but it's basically saying that something needs to be done at some point in time and that will have to get worked out as part of any site plan.
All of these improvements, by the way, are indicated in the plan as our best guesstimate of what we think is appropriate at this time.  That's subject to change once there's an actual application and we determine the traffic conditions at that time and the scale of the development.  It's theoretically possible the Hospital could come in with something different or less than what is shown here in stage one.  If that were the case, maybe some of the traffic improvements would be less as well.  It depends, but this is our best guesstimate based upon the traffic studies that have been done as what will improve traffic flows in the area. 
MR. ROTH:  Thank you.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thank you, Mr. Roth. 
MS. PRICE:  Blais, while the next speaker comes up to the microphone, I just want to clarify for the record, that all of those traffic improvements that you just enunciated were not improvements that you determined in your role of planning   
MR. BRANCHEAU:  No, these were identified by the traffic consultant for the board and for the hospital.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thank you, Gail.  Thank you, Blais.  Please state and spell your name.
MS. LATHAM:  Jami Latham, J a m i L a t h a n, 314 Libby Avenue. 
Thank you for the presentation, it was clear and thorough and I didn't have a chance to really take a look because I just picked up a copy at the break when someone was leaving, so I look forward to a chance to really take a look at that.  But I have a couple of questions that were based on some of your more general statements. 
The first one was, you mentioned that the conversation and these meetings would be very different if the hospital was not already present on the site and I'm wondering if you could expand on that because in my mind from a planning and Village perspective, the outcome is the same whether there's a hospital currently present or not, we're discussing adding a million square feet in building bounded by a school and half million dollar homes. 
So, if you could just expand on how you think that the meetings and the conversations would be different and why? 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Okay.  Are you   
MS. LATHAM:  And my second question is   
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Okay.
MS. LATHAM:     you talked about allowing use but then hamstringing growth and obviously the hospital is there, it's H zoned and    but even when you consider public beneficial use, isn't it reasonable to believe that given the unique location of the site and the character of the surrounding lands, that we would eventually reach the maximum limit for the site's development?  And I think, just as a statement, many of the concerned residents and the law suit and all of these meetings and comments would reflect that many residents feel we already reached that level. 
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  No comment just questions.  Thank you.
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Okay. 
(Applause.)
MR. BRANCHEAU:  The first question, if I could rephrase, if this was a cornfield today would we be putting a hospital here? 
I think I'd say probably not.  That's a pretty safe bet, I think.  But in planning, we rarely can work in a vacuum like that.  We're often dealing with the legacy of past decisions and past patterns.  We're dealing with constraints imposed by nature, the topography, the drainage and land, the water features, soil conditions, all kinds of things.  We deal with decisions made decades ago about where roads should go, about development that occurred decades or even centuries ago.  And those things tend to linger and they tend to have a ripple effect over the years and over the decades.  I've often wondered, you know, how it would be different if we had two underpasses in the downtown on the railroad instead of one.  But we have to deal with the fact that we have one.
To suggest that there are a lot of things that in a perfect world we wouldn't do, but we don't deal with a perfect world we have what we have.
So, when I say it would be different, I would say if someone had a vacant lot or a block of single family homes and they said I want to tear those down and build a hospital on Heights Road, we'd probably say, "go away we're not interested".  All right? 
But 60 years ago for whatever reason, I don't know what the reason, a hospital was built on this property, community hospital, smaller in size.  I think that has some bearing on the decision, just like the fact that we have a downtown where we have it has a bearing on planning decisions we make, the fact that much of the Village is single family homes has bearing on what we do.  The fact that we have Route 17 going through the highway and a railroad going through the Village, we have a pedestrian station downtown.  All of these things have weight that is    should be given consideration and the fact that the hospital is here already, that it is    it's not a simple thing to say you need to go pick up or leave.  All right.  I'm not saying that to prejudice how the board votes, I'm just saying it's a factor that's worthy of consideration.  And it needs to be, you know, an important consideration.  So, that's what I think the difference really is, that you do have to consider what is already there.  I mean sometimes it's a chicken and egg thing. 
I live in a town where there is an industrial facility that is surrounded by homes.  Guess what?  They were there first, the homes got built    it was farm field when the industrial facility went in.  And the homes got built up around them.  So who has priority?  You know that's something that the homes say, you know, "industry get out".  And the industry says "I was here first". 
So, that's the situation that is not easy to deal with.  And it is something that towns try to work out an amicable solution for both, recognizing that both have rights and both have needs.  And I think the same is really here.
As to a maximum, yes, I think there    I think in the last round of discussion I used the word "tipping" point.  I would say that's true of any use, that there is a point that at any particular    pardon the use of the word    point in time, that it exceeds what's reasonable or a proposal would be too much.  The question is how much is that? 
I mean I can say if Valley Hospital wanted to do a 50 story building with buildings right to the property line we could all say, yes, that's too much.  Okay?  What about 10 stories?  Probably too much, same thing.  What about five stories?  You know, at this point in time it's    this is part of the whole balancing thing that I've talked about and the board needs to look at the positive things that would result from this and balance them against the negatives.  And it's not just a simple question of it's too big, it's a question of does the positive benefits of that outweigh the negative issues and other issues as well.  But    so yes, you're right in the sense that, yeah, we can all debate.  And that's what we're all here doing, debating whether it's too much or whether it's on balance, okay to do. 
So, you know, that's a debatable point as to how far is too much.  That's what the board is ultimately here to decide is how much is too much. 
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thank you, Blais.
Are there any other questions tonight?  Again, these are questions specific to Mr. Brancheau's testimony.  Three questions, please go through them at one spell. 
State and spell your name and provide your address please.
MR. PUTNINS:  Name is Zigi Putnins.  Z i g i P u t n i n s, 572 Fairway Road, Ridgewood New Jersey. 
I guess my first question was, Blais, you mentioned in your presentation of the documents, I think it was the Sica versus Wall Township court case, but looking through that it seems to mention use variance all over the place, but just wondering what the precedent is for using the term "inherently beneficial use" in a Master Plan deliberation.
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Precedent?  Oh, I'll let you ask all your questions before I answer.
MR. PUTNINS:  Okay.  The second question is you said that in the current Master Plan Amendments you wanted to maintain the current intensity of use.  I was wondering what was your object of measure to determine if that was happening or not?  And how would you look to actually achieving it as time goes forward.
And the third question I have is you went through a comparison of different zones in the town.  And you went through some analysis of floor area ratio coverage and setback and things like that.  I was wondering with those analyses    were the zones that you used in that analysis exclusively limited to those adjacent to residential areas?  Were they including all zones in the town.
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Okay.  That's it?  All right. 
Let me try to answer the issue of inherently beneficial use.  I think my use of the term inherently beneficial use was    I used that term because I was considering the balancing of the purposes that would be promoted by the proposal.  And because it is an inherently beneficial use it automatically brings with it public benefits.  So while I don't necessarily think that a municipality must plan for and zone for inherently beneficial uses in their community, I think the fact that there's already one here in this location has some relevance.  And I use the term and I said before it was really key to try to focus on the public purposes of the amendment.  Related to the intensity of use, the Master Plan is using four indices, and believe me this is not an exact science.  Even to determine intensity of use means different things to different people.  I can only just describe it as a combination of factors relating to the amount of site activity compared to the area in which it occurs. 
And so the Master Plan looks at four components of intensity.  One is the area occupied by the most intensive component of the hospital.  And in terms of the employees and patient activity, and that is the shared inpatient/outpatient diagnostic treatment area, the clinical support area, the logistical support area and the administrative office area, that obviously excludes things like mechanical space, the laundry areas, the cafeteria and so forth, because those aren't generating activity, they're supporting activity that's already there for these things.
Secondly, is the number of beds, we said that's 454.  The total floor area of the hospital and the amount of on site parking, those are the four indices that we are proposing.  It's not a perfect system, I've never met a perfect system in dealing with that.  I mean typical standards for intensity of use relate to floor area ratio which is, I can assure you, an inexact term in and of itself.  What gets included in that?  What doesn't get included in that?  It can vary widely for even the same use.  As far as the amount of intensity that results from a certain floor area ratio, it's a rough average.  Other things that deal with intensity of use, we deal with in other ways here. 
But intensity relates to how many people are using the site at a particular time and over how long of a time.  How many cars come to and from the site?  How much equipment is operated on the site.  It's, you know, it's a lot of different things.  And so we're trying to limit is those activities on site as best we can, prove that we can.  I believe they're all enforceable, obviously varying degrees.  Beds, obviously something that the state has to approve.  As far as the amount of floor area of shared inpatient/outpatient diagnostic areas and so forth, I think your wife raised the question of what if the state were to approve a greater amount of floor area for those types of uses.  And I    at that time my response was, "it's a good question, it's fair question, I don't know legally whether the state would trump the Village's zoning regulations in that".  But my answer at that time and still is, is that it's undisputed that the Village can limit the amount of intensity of a hospital operation.  And that the way we structured the Master Plan is that it's not any one of these things, it's the combination that's important.  And we've even said in the Master Plan that if for some reason one of these were to increase above what these limits are, the Village could and would require a corresponding reduction of other ones.  And that would involve a fair amount of discussion, debate and so forth as to whether it was truly equivalent.
But as I said, it's difficult to be exceedingly precise in these things, but we do the best we can with that.  So even if the state were to trump the Village's rules to say, no, we're saying the hospital can have a larger or must have, needs a larger diagnostic treatment area, I believe it's clear that municipalities can limit intensity of use and I think we could require a corresponding reduction if the state did do that.  So    but as far as total floor area, obviously we issue building permits for buildings, we can measure them.  It's a measurable thing. 
As far as on site parking, we can count it, so all of these things are measurable and enforceable things.  And where they change, we can certainly require reduction.
Last question in comparison to other zones, every zone that I used in that comparison in some location abut a single family residential zone.  Not necessarily throughout the zone, but in some location.  I can tell you what zone would work that I looked at, I looked at the standards for schools and houses of worship in a residential zone.  I looked at the B1 zone which does abut single family zones in a few locations.  The B2 zones similarly also abuts single family zone.  The C commercial zone which also abuts single family zones, the OB1, the OB2 and the highway commercial zone.  And all of those abut single family residential development on at least on one side.  So I didn't pick anything that was completely isolated from single family. 
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thank you, Blais.
We're going to take one more person but before we begin, Gail? 
MS. PRICE:  Yes, I just want to make or try to make something a little clearer for the record on Blais's utilization of the Sica case and just in response to the last question that was asked about the inherently beneficial use. 
And Blais has explained this he was utilizing the Sica case as an aid and not as controlling law.  But since the board needs to look at basically a balancing test with the general welfare and the detriments to the public good that what he reviewed that was the closest to that analysis was what the court had outlined in Sica.  I don't want anyone, including the board, to be confused by reference to the case that that is what controls this determination in the Master Plan.  I think Blais is utilizing it for just a help and a way to frame the analysis. 
But in specific reference to the question about the inherently beneficial use, in 2009 the legislature amended the Municipal Land Use Law to specifically include a definition of inherently beneficial use in the definition section of the state statute.  And in that definition it specifically listed inherently beneficial uses that were found to serve the public good and promote the general welfare.  And hospitals are specifically identified in the definition of the Municipal Land Use Law as being inherently beneficial uses. 
So I believe that Blais was probably working off of that definition and then the Sica case in terms of the comparison on the stem by step. 
The definition is, just in case anybody wants to look it up is N.J.S.A. 40:55D 4.  And that's the section which are in sections 1 through 7 of the beginning part of the act that includes all the definitions.  So before 2009 that    that very detailed definition wasn't included.  So in '09 it came in.  And what the section    how the section reads is that those inherently beneficial uses are assumed to serve zoning purposes of promoting the general welfare.
So taking that and then the balancing test, if we were a zoning board, the positive criteria would need to be satisfied for a use variance and the difference for inherently beneficial uses is that the positive criteria is assumed to have been met because schools, hospitals, similar type of uses are presumed to further the public good and the general welfare.
So I just wanted to clarify that for the record.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thank you, Gail. 
MR. DRILL:  Can I make one clarification also if this is a follow up, I guess on Jami Lakum (sic)   
MS. PRICE:  Jami.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Latham. 
MR. DRILL:  Latham's question.
MS. PRICE:  Jamie? 
MR. DRILL:  She asked Blais why he said that if there was a vacant lot here, rather than a hospital, it would be treated differently.
And I want to go back and ask you a question again about 40:55D 28 which is the MLUL provision that governs Master Plans.  And I just want to confirm that under 28B the land use law says:
"The Master Plan shall consist of at least two elements, one is a statement of objective and one is the Land Use Plan Element", correct? 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Yes.  In the Fair Housing Act you'd add a third.
MR. DRILL:  Right.  And under, again, 28(b)(2) under the Land Use Element there are four mandatory elements of the Land Use Element and one of them is that it show:
“the existing and proposed location, extent and intensity of development of land”.  Correct?
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Yes.
MR. DRILL:  So, in fact, the board is required, in a Master Plan Amendment, to consider what's on the property.  It can't consider it vacant, correct?
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Yes, and in the section on zoning it talks about the character.
MR. DRILL:  Right.  62 talks about:
"Drawn with the reasonable consideration to the character of each district."
And that would include the buildings that are on the land too   
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Yes.
MR. DRILL:  Correct? 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Correct.
MR. DRILL:  Thank you. 
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thank you, Mr. Drill. 
Ma'am, again your question   
MS. COOPERSMITH:  Nancy Coopersmith, 373 Meadowbrook Avenue. 
Okay.  So my first question is regarding the height of that North building, that 94 foot building with the mechanicals.  I think, Blais you said that that 94 feet exceeds the allowable height of other nonresidential buildings in the Village, correct? 
And I    I was at last week's meeting and the topic of discussion before we got into the hospital was about downtown development and whoever was here from the board at that meeting, to a person was extremely concerning about the 60 foot height buildings in downtown Ridgewood.  And I think a lot of us kind of found that very ironic in the context of this meeting. 
And so I guess the question is, why couldn't we go back to Valley Hospital and get some kind of relieve from that 94 foot height?  Why is that not a reasonable request given the character of the neighborhood?  Why does that have to be 94 feet? 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Is that your only question? 
MS. COOPERSMITH:  No, my second question is, in terms of I guess    Blais, you had testified in terms of    I guess your job is to sort of give us the flip side of the hospital's testimony of what the hospital needs and put this into some kind of context for our neighborhood in Ridgewood.  And we talked about detrimental effects, but my question is to you and also to the board, would you consider yourself an expert on those detrimental effects in the same sense that Mr. May is an expert on hospital planning and hospital building, and what is fair and reasonable for a hospital building.
So I guess that my second question is would it be fair to get somebody in here who is an expert, if Mr. Brancheau is not, on neighborhood conservation or, you know, what the detrimental effects of, you know, putting up a building or what the benefits of open air or are talk to those points, you know, we've heard, you know, testimony from a nurse about what, you know, the effects on children with asthma but not    I don't know  
MR. DRILL:  For the record, I object.  The board hasn't heard any testimony from any nurse about   
MS. COOPERSMITH:  Okay.  No questions from a nurse.
MR. DRILL:  No.
MS. COOPERSMITH:  But it was    and I guess you haven't heard that testimony.  And so that's my question is, is if we've heard about what's fair and reasonable for a hospital in today's standards, but we really have not heard that testimony.  We've heard a list of the detriments. 
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  I think we should ask Blais your question first if he considers himself to be an expert  
MS. COOPERSMITH:  Okay.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:     on the detriments. 
MS. COOPERSMITH:  Yes.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Why don't we begin with that.
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Are there any more questions before I start answering? 
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Yes, thank you.
MR. BRANCHEAU:  You've got two so far.
MS. COOPERSMITH:  Okay.  And my third question, and I really do not mean any disrespect to Mr. Brancheau and I'm saying this as a writer myself, but as the author of that 2010 Master Plan Amendment, my    my personal experience is that when you write something you own it.  And so I guess the question is to the board and to Mr. Brancheau again, would it be reasonable to get another planner with    who comes from an objective point of view, to take a look at what has been done here and give us an opinion? 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  I'll try to answer those as best I can. 
Regarding why it needs to be    the North building needs to be that height, I think ultimately the Hospital's architects would be best suited to answer that one.  I can only tell you my understanding is that it relates to the arrangement of the bed care units and the efficiencies of having them vertically stack in the same location as opposed to being spread apart.  It's also somewhat related to the fact of existing buildings of the hospital and what constraints that imposes on the layout of buildings. 
I think, generally speaking, I think we can all understand that there's three options, assuming the same size building, you can go up, you can go out and you can go down.  In the 2010 Amendment there was a greater emphasis on down.  And, originally there actually was, the amendment was, which I think we've gone through all three options here, in the 2010 Amendment the original proposal went out.  And then we brought in a hospital expert that said no you should go down, more so.  And then the current proposal is more up.
And I think the attempts to go down was to reduce the above ground mass.  The problem was that carried with it more excavation, more construction impacts.  And there was a lot of objection to that. 
So, if you go out there's less setbacks but there's better construction related impacts, but you have more coverage and less, you know, less setback and it has other issues.  If you go up, you have better setbacks, less excavation, but you've got more height. 
So it seems like whatever option you choose, again assuming the same size building, something's got to give.  It's    there is no perfect solution.  And that's a very general answer.  But if you want a specific answer as to why the North building has to be that height?  Other than the floor to floor height which the architects have addressed, you'd have to ask them to get a better answer for that.
I'm not an expert on detrimental effects.  Planners are, to some extent, generalists, sort of like your family practitioner.  They're not specialists in those types of things, that's why I've tried to rely on the testimony of other experts that have been before the board.  If the board wants to bring in somebody they certainly have that option.
I've never heard of the expert, however, in the subjects that you described, not any recognized type of expert.  As far as a license, as far as, you know, real credentials. 
And as far as    I can't really respond to the last question about whether the board should bring in another planner.  I didn't really address that.  I can only say that my role, as I see it, is not to establish to tell the board how they should vote or what policy they should implement.  My role is to assist the board in understanding what they can and cannot do and what the benefits of doing this would be versus that and the detriments would be versus this and that, and to understand that all within the framework of the Municipal Land Use Law in New Jersey and my experience.
So, we planners, on one hand are specialists on a very narrow field of development regulation and policy, but we're generalists in most of the other things.  And that's probably the way it should be. 
So, I don't know how to answer as far as    I mean the idea was that I was biased because I prepared the last plan?  I prepared the last plan because that's what the board felt was what it wanted to adopt.  So I am assisting the board.  I'm not here to get my way.  I'm here to do    to help the board understand and make decisions that they feel are best for the Village. 
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thank you, Blais. 
MS. PRICE:  Blais, can I just ask you a follow up on that, with regard to the detrimental effects, your role as the board planner, the report that you gave to the board tonight and the issues that you covered in that report in terms of addressing issues such as illumination and noise and setback and traffic, all of the summary issues, construction, environmental, although you have confirmed that you are not an expert in any of those areas, is it commonplace in your provision of services to the board to review all of those items in connection with development applications that come before the board and provide the board with a summary of your professional planning opinion which the board can accept or reject with regard to those items and possible mitigation efforts that can be employed? 
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Part of the job of being a generalist is to bring all of those specialized opinions and testimony together, that you try to make sense of them as a whole as opposed to dealing with the individual components by themselves.  And that's a lot of what planners do is they try to deal with that balancing, because there's always balancing.  In everything, all development activity involves pros and cons.  And planners really are specialists at that balancing aspect of things, and trying to bring all the disparate ends and individual facts together. 
And it's often why you see planners are last in development applications in speaking before the boards because they have to rely upon the experts, you know, the architects, traffic, civil engineers and the others, and then their role in the case of a development application is to bring that all together and to tell the board whether they feel that would be good planning, bad planning or whether    you know, what parts of it are good and what parts of it are bad.  And that's what we do.
MS. PRICE:  But you're not doing anything extraordinary in connection with this application?
MR. BRANCHEAU:  No, all planners do this.
MS. PRICE:  And just one other issue with regard to that, with regard to the third question, do you in any way feel that your involvement in the 2010 Master Plan has compromised your obligation to remain fair and objective in this proceeding?
MR. BRANCHEAU:  Not at all.
MS. PRICE:  Thank you.
CHAIRMAN NALBANTIAN:  Thank you, Gail.
That wraps up tonight's questions. 
The hearing was carried to April 15 for scheduling.
Approval of Minutes – The minutes from the October 15, 2013 were adopted as drafted.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:42 p.m.

      Respectfully submitted,
      Jane Wondergem
      Board Secretary


Date approved: October 20, 1015

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