The following minutes are a summary of the Planning Board meeting of February 21, 2017 Interested parties may request an audio recording of the meeting from the Board Secretary for a fee.
Call to Order & Statement of Compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act: Mr. Joel called the meeting to order at 7:45 p.m. The following members were present: Mayor Knudsen, Councilman Voigt, Joel Torielli, Mr. Joel, Mr. Scheibner, and Ms. McWilliams. Also present were: Christopher Martin, Esq., Christopher Rutishauser, Village Engineer, and Board Secretary Michael Cafarelli. Ms. Patire, Ms. Altano, and were not present.
Public Comments on Topics not Pending Before the Board – No one came forward.
Correspondence received – Mr. Cafarelli said none was received
Two Forty Associates, Preliminary and Final Major Site Plan, 150-174 Chestnut Street, Block 2005, Lot 38 – Public Hearing continued from December 20, 2016 - Following is the transcript of the meeting, prepared by Laura A. Carucci, C.C.R., R.P.R.:
CHAIRMAN JOEL: All right. The next item will be Two Forty Associates, preliminary and final major site plan, 150 174 Chestnut Street, Block 2005, Lot 38 Public hearing continued from December 20, 2016.
Tom Wells is the attorney for Two Forty. And I guess we've had two public hearings in this matter so far, that was October 18th and December 20th. On October 18th, you, MR. WELLS, presented Peter Wells, an architect, and exhibits A 1 through A 13; and then on December 20th, MR. WELLS presented Al Lapatka as the engineer, and exhibits A 14 through A 22, and also Jay Troutman provided some testimony. We'll be moving on to the next phase of this presentation of this application.
VICE CHAIRMAN TORIELLI: Mr. Chairman, I'm recusing myself.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Okay. Let the record reflect that Joel Torielli is recusing himself, Michael. (At this point in the proceeding Vice Chairman Torielli steps off the dais and is recused.)
MR. WELLS: For the record, my name is Tom Wells. I'm before you this evening on a number of matters, but, in particular, as the Chairman indicated, with respect to Chestnut Village on October 18th and December 20th. What I just handed out to board members and professionals is a copy of our exhibit list revised as of today. It is slightly different. I notice that the Chair read off that A 22 was the Burgis Associates report, and in reality that didn't come in at the last hearing. So when I reorganized it for tonight, I have A 22 being the McDonough & Rea traffic report, which your secretary just indicated your board received during the time since we were here last, it's dated February 9th. You also received an opinion letter from me dated February 14th. And then I list the Burgis planning report, to kind of keep this organized. What I did here is, I took the liberty of going ahead and listing on here the four reports that I had received as of today from the village. There's a board report, an engineer's report, and a planner's report, the dates that you see there, and then there was the Petry traffic reported dated 1/16 that I've attached here. I note, although Michael did not indicate, but I believe there's a letter written by MR. MARTIN that was submitted to the board today. Does that board have that?
MR. CAFARELLI: That was not submitted today.
MR. WELLS: Okay. There's another legal opinion letter that at some point it will go into the record. That's what I have in the record so far. Since I will also hopefully move through the testimony of MR. LYDON, there's four more exhibits that he's going to present this evening, which would be A 25, 26, 27, and 28. We'll get to those as we go through the evening. I think that summarizes where we are. Does it make sense, MR. MARTIN?
MR. MARTIN: It really does, MR. WELLS. I appreciate that.
In terms of my response, I actually had a jury trial in Ocean today. The good news is I don't have to go back, because I got it dismissed after the case in chief, but I did not get the final letter out, so when I do, I will provide a copy to you and the board.
MR. WELLS: Okay. So just to quickly summarize, because it's been a little bit of time since we were actually, quite a bit of time since we were last here on this matter. You have heard the testimony of our architect, our site engineer, and then our traffic engineer was testifying at the end of the last hearing. He is back with us this evening, although he had really completed his testimony at the last hearing. You will recollect, towards the end of the last hearing, there was a dialogue back and forth between Mr. Brancheau, who was then the planner, who's since left the village, and myself with respect to his belief that there was a necessity that there be additional counts done by the traffic engineer, specifically at the intersection of Oak Street and Robinson, and then Chestnut Street and Franklin Avenue.
I objected to that, because I told him I didn't think that they were justified, in view of the testimony by MR. TROUTMAN at that point, which was that any impact on those intersections would be very de minimis, and, therefore, even if we counted those, it would simply be indicated his testimony would not change in that regard.
Notwithstanding that, as the board knows, because I've been doing this for a while in front of you, our intention is to give the most complete application before the board to make our record very complete. So the applicant did authorize the additional counts to be done, and they were done. And the supplemental report that you received that we just talked about, that's dated February 9th, it does indeed include additional counts and additional conclusions. So what I'm going to do in a minute is ask MR. TROUTMAN to come back up and just speak to that a little bit, although we don't anticipate extensive additional testimony. I would like to put in the record, as I have I have given you a legal letter, which will be part of the record that it is my strong belief that the Planning Board, through its professionals, have been overreaching in requesting additional data with respect to traffic, because the case law is very clear that off site matters are not appropriate for the board to consider for denial, but even more importantly in this case, to the extent that it can be shown that there is a direct impact on some other intersection, if an improvement is contemplated, and we have never heard of any improvement being contemplated, we've never been informed of any improvement being contemplated by you or your professionals, then it may be appropriate for a pro rata share. But, as we've indicated, the testimony shows the impacts on adjoining intersections is de minimis, that's what the counts show, and, therefore, even to study them is really inappropriate, and, therefore, a pro rata share would be difficult to show. That's the short summary of what the legal opinion that I've given to you has been, as the record shows, complete with all of the appropriate case law. So I'm going to ask MR. TROUTMAN to come back. After that, MR. LYDON from the Burgis planning office will come and give you his testimony. We can answer any questions that might be leftover from the board, and then it's my intention to sum up and we'll be done.
So, I'd like to re call MR. TROUTMAN.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: MR. WELLS, I did read your letter. I have to take umbrage with your last sentence. I think it's totally unfair saying that stated opposition that various Planning Board members have made to the underlying use. I don't have any or we don't have any opposition to the underlying use, we have concerns about the effect of the underlying use, and that's what we're addressing in these dialogues back and forth. So you stated this twice, and I think it's unfair for you to state it and put it in the letter, to be honest with you.
MR. WELLS: Well, to be very honest with you, in matters that were litigated, we obviously can do that, but the record and the transcription clearly reflects those kind of statements, in particular by you, Mr. Voigt. So they're right in the record, you made them, I didn't make them up.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: MR. WELLS, let me make sure we're clear on that, okay. I don't have a concern on the underlying use, again, I have a concern on the effect of the underlying use, it's different.
MR. WELLS: No, it's not, actually.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: No, it is, because it affects the surrounding area and that's where the concern lies, okay. It's not the underlying use of the property, it's the effect of the underlying use on the surrounding area, so I'll make sure we're clear on that. Okay?
MR. MARTIN: Which may go to a condition as to this application, and MR. WELLS and I and the board have gone through this before in a similar matter, so that's something I think that could be addressed along the way.
MR. WELLS, you're re calling your witness?
MR. WELLS: I am.
MR. MARTIN: And you remain sworn.
MR. WELLS: MR. TROUTMAN.
J A Y S. T R O U T M A N, JR., P.E.,
Having been previously sworn, continues to testify as follows:
MR. TROUTMAN: Good evening.
BY MR. WELLS:
Q. So, MR. TROUTMAN, if you would, for the purposes of identification and putting it into evidence, could you identify what we've now marked A 22, which is your most [recent|rent] report?
A. Yes, A 22 is a traffic impact study dated February 9, 2017, prepared by McDonough & Rea Associates. (Traffic impact study dated 2/9/17, prepared by McDonough & Rea Associates, is marked as exhibit A 22 for identification.)
BY MR. WELLS:
Q. And, if you would, just tell the board what you did in that report. Kind of move them forward from your last testimony and explain the additional work that you did and any change in your conclusions or please give us your opinions with respect to traffic related to this application.
Two main items are addressed in the report. The first is the request by the board planner and some board members to analyze additional intersections, specifically two new intersections have been added to the analysis, Chestnut Street at Franklin Avenue and Oak Street at Robinson Lane. Those are in addition to Chestnut Street at Robinson Lane, which has always been part of the analysis for this property since we began looking at it in 2007. The second opportunity we took while we did this report was also to provide all of the traffic information that your consultant requested in their letter dated January 16, 2017. So, the report is expanded and the report now includes all relevant data in one document, as your consultant had requested. That includes the traffic generation from the site, the traffic counts at all of the intersections, parking analysis, and the level of service capacity analysis for all the intersections. All of the backup data is attached in the appendices of the report. The overall finding from the report is that the traffic impact of this use is not significant; in fact, it does not change any of the levels of service in the area at all from what would be there under a no build situation. So there's no impact on any traffic capacity in the surrounding area, which you would expect with a site that generates one additional vehicle every two minutes.
Q. As a result of the additional study that you did, is there any change whatsoever in the testimony that you previously gave?
A. No, there's not.
MR. WELLS: Okay. I have no further questions.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Okay. We'll start down at the end. Dave, do you have any questions?
MR. SCHEIBNER: No questions.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Okay. COUNCILMAN VOIGT?
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Yes. I'm assuming we're referring to this report, the 42 page report that we okay. The last couple of pages of this, it looks like the level of service, I'm looking at the last two in particular, and it says a level of service of E and D for northbound and southbound with no build and build. So I need to understand what that means specifically for the need for any kind of traffic signals, stops, crosswalks, sidewalks, lights, for people who actually would be living in that particular development to go back and forth. I need to understand what that means, and I don't know if MR. JAHR wants to opine on that, but I just want to understand what E and D mean.
THE WITNESS: The E and the D are indicative of what the average delay is per vehicle at that movement.
MR. WELLS: MR. TROUTMAN, for Mr. Voigt or COUNCILMAN VOIGT, could you just tell us which movements we're specifically talking about?
THE WITNESS: Yes. First of all, the intersection is Franklin Avenue and Chestnut Street. And the movements we're talking about are the northbound Chestnut Street getting out onto Franklin or crossing Franklin and also southbound Chestnut Street making the same movements. So, in the weekday morning peak hour, those movements are level of service E for northbound Chestnut and level of service C for southbound Chestnut in the no build condition, and that would remain for the build condition as well. And then in the weekday afternoon peak hour, those movements are level of service E for the northbound Chestnut approach and level of service D for the southbound Chestnut approach, and those levels of service stay the same once you include the traffic from Chestnut Village. It simply just indicates the level of delay and then it assigns a level of service, that's all, it doesn't indicate anything else. You really can't read anything else into it.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Yes, so I just want to make sure I understand. So I also have and I'm not so concerned about that intersection, I'm more concerned about the Oak Street and Robinson Lane intersection, which has levels of B and C. And my concern is not necessarily about the traffic, my concern more is about the pedestrians that would be living at that particular development and going back and forth on Oak Street and potentially Robinson Lane, and during the peak hours what that means for their safety necessarily and what that means for any kind of assistance that they may require related to traffic stops, lights, crosswalks, et cetera.
I certainly would like your opinion, but I'm hoping MR. JAHR can also opine on that. My concern necessarily is about the traffic per se, and I know there were a number of different cases that MR. WELLS had cited saying we can't deny this based on traffic. I understand that. Okay. But those particular cases don't necessarily relate, and I need to understand this a little bit better too from MR. MARTIN, the cases that are cited talk about traffic, they talk about other issues too, if you read the cases. And it relates to necessarily circulation, and I'm assuming it means pedestrian traffic, not just traffic per se. And I guess my main concern is: What does that mean for those people who live there who want to get either into downtown or crossover or go to the Y, or, you know, the sidewalks that may be needed there? That's the concern that I have, and I just want to make sure that's addressed adequately, and, frankly, that, you know, if those are the people that are using that crosswalk and the sidewalks, and I'm guessing most of them probably would be from that village, from that particular development, you know, who's responsible for upgrading that particular intersection, whether it be sidewalks, whether it means crosswalks, whether it means traffic lights, et cetera? That's what I'm probably most concerned about. And I know you say it's only one percent of traffic, but I'm not concerned about the traffic, I'm concerned about the pedestrians. Who is responsible for that? And
MR. WELLS: I'm not sure MR. TROUTMAN can do much with your question, he can certainly try, but I can remind you of a couple of things that are already in the record. To the extent that residents of this particular project or anybody in that vicinity desires to walk into the village in particular, we've indicated that we believe that this is a transit project, for example, who want to walk to public transit. The sidewalk along Chestnut Street is intact and it exists entirely from this project all the way to Franklin Avenue. So there will be no issue
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Actually, it doesn't, because I've been by there numerous times, and the sidewalk does need to be upgraded, okay. There are dirt paths to it. That needs to be upgraded.
MR. WELLS: Well, that's actually a concern that you and the mayor and the rest of the council can take on with respect to whether the sidewalk is in the right condition in front of other property owners, that is not the responsibility of this particular applicant, but the sidewalk does indeed exist along that way. The other thing I wanted to remind you is, when this concern with respect to pedestrians was raised at the last hearing, we did indicate, we stipulated into the record that if someone determined that a crosswalk would be desirable between/across Chestnut Street and along Robinson Lane, that we would be happy to undertake to have that crosswalk put in. I assume that would be by lining. We can certainly do that. And although we do not believe that there's any issue with respect to needing additional sidewalk along Robinson Lane, should it be determined that ultimately the village or if somebody else decides to put a sidewalk in on property that we don't own, then we would certainly be willing to pay a fair share towards that sidewalk, and that we stipulated at the last hearing.
That said, MR. TROUTMAN can certainly opine, if you can, on this.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: So, I had a little bit more color to this. So, on Chestnut Street, you know, frankly, the people who go on it, you know, they go into Chestnut even before Robinson Lane, they go a little bit north of that, that's another side street, they go up and they come down Chestnut onto Franklin, and they travel pretty you know, faster than 25 miles an hour, to be honest with you. I've seen people go down that street. And, again, if you have pedestrians cross there and there's not adequate caution or signage, it creates an issue, I think. And I want to ensure that, you know, that's on the record that this is something we need to talk about a little bit further as to what that means, what that level of service C means, and whether or not it means more than just a crosswalk, so...
MR. WELLS: MR. TROUTMAN has indicated his opinions in the past with respect to the numbers of pedestrians being very small. That said, you have a traffic expert paid for by us but working for the village. You're certainly free to converse with him, one would have hoped that would have occurred during these many months that we've been in this hearing, and to get his opinion and see whether he feels something would be appropriate.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Okay.
MR. WELLS: Knock yourselves out, guys. Other than you had MR. TROUTMAN tell you what he thinks and pay for MR. JAHR for you, there's nothing more we can do at this point.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Okay. Thank you.
MR. WELLS: MR. TROUTMAN, I'm sorry, we had gotten into a legal thing, is there anything you want to add from an expert point of view?
THE WITNESS: Yes. I would just note that the predominant pedestrian pattern induced by this site is going to be between this site and the downtown area, which would put pedestrians along Chestnut Street from this site to Franklin. So, your consultant made a comment that that sidewalk network should be complete, and we verified that once we do our sidewalk along our entire site frontage, that sidewalk network will, in fact, be complete, and that is the major pedestrian flow to be addressed by this site. In addition to a crosswalk that MR. WELLS just mentioned, I would recommend that that go north of Robinson Lane, just because a majority of the turning movements between Robinson and Chestnut would be on the south leg of Chestnut. So you would have minimal conflict, if you were to build a crosswalk for the occasional person who wanted to walk
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Yes, so here's my other question. So you put that crosswalk north of Robinson Lane and there's no sidewalk on that side of the street. So what does that mean? Does that mean that the developer would potentially pony up whatever their portion is and the use of that? I just want to make sure we're yes.
MR. WELLS: We don't own those properties. We have no rights of eminent domain, as the village would have. We have no right to enforce that. All we can do is, if the village sees fit to install or through some other application you get someone else to put a sidewalk, we can certainly indicate that we will pay a pro rata share towards that. But, again, pro rata share is determined by the number of people that we would put on the sidewalk relative to all of them. In that case, to be very honest with you, because very, very few people would be on the sidewalk, the pro rata share could be a little higher. If it's one out of two, that would be 50 percent, as opposed to the pro rata share when we, for example, got 12 cars out of 1,100 with respect to
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Here's my question, okay. It would seem to me that the crosswalks in that area would be used mostly by this development more than anybody else. I'm just assuming that's the case, okay. Let's assume it's 90 percent they use it, does that mean that you're responsible for 90 percent of the cost of that?
MR. WELLS: We'll pay for 100 percent of the cost of the crosswalk.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: No, I'm talking about sidewalks.
MR. WELLS: On other people's property? No, it doesn't mean that.
MR. MARTIN: Well, I'd like to hear from MR. JAHR as well, but the way I see it, you have 90 percent of the new sidewalk is related to pedestrian traffic coming from the development, that would be the pro rata.
MR. WELLS: More fundamentally than that, as we keep saying is, there is no evidence in the record or anybody ever testified that there's any substantial number of people who are going to need this, so we don't even reach the question of a pro rata share, because we're building a sidewalk for basically nobody, I mean, there are very few people.
MR. MARTIN: MR. WELLS, that's the hypothetical. The question from the councilman was: If it's related to the development, what is the pro rata share? I think we can agree, if it's related you're saying, wait a minute, it's not related. I understand what you're saying, but the question is: How is it proportionally divided? I think we agree on that.
MR. WELLS: If it would be.
MR. MARTIN: If it would be, right.
MR. WELLS: The pro rata share would be established based on the use that is caused by the development as compared to other use on the sidewalk.
MR. MARTIN: I agree. I agree.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: So, I'm just hypothetically saying, if the development uses it 90 percent of the time, even though it's hardly used, the development would be responsible for 90 percent of the costs?
MR. WELLS: It's not time, it's use by pedestrians or vehicles.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: I'm not talking about time, I'm talking about people using it, 90 percent of the usage is by the development, that means that 90 percent of the cost would be incurred by the developer, theoretically, yes?
MR. WELLS: Right. The problem that you have is if you had 90 people out of 100, then it would make sense to build a sidewalk. If you have nine people out of ten, then you don't even get past the threshold of why are you building a sidewalk. So you have to get to the point of needing the sidewalk, in order to get into that. As I indicated before, if three people used that sidewalk ever and two of them are from this project, you could argue a 60 percent pro rata share, but you never get to pro rata share, if there's only three people using the sidewalk.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Ask the question.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: So I'd like to actually hear from MR. JAHR if we need sidewalks
MR. WELLS: I would really like to ask, if we could, that we stick with the ordinary procedure. MR. JAHR, as your expert, has the right to ask this particular expert questions, and at some point in time if you would like to have MR. JAHR testify, which is certainly appropriate, that would be fine, but as opposed to dueling testimony, I don't think that's effective.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: So let me ask you, do we need the sidewalk there?
THE WITNESS: In my opinion, no, we did not observe any pedestrian activity out there. The other thing
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Let me ask you this.
So, if you put a crosswalk there, okay, put it to the other side, the east side, goes from west to east, there's no sidewalk there, okay, so they're walking on dirt, they're walking on the street. Do you need a sidewalk?
THE WITNESS: No.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Well, I'm just going to ask this a different way.
How many structures along that corridor have 35 units per acre, at that density, residential?
THE WITNESS: Along what corridor?
MAYOR KNUDSEN: The Chestnut corridor.
THE WITNESS: I don't know, I haven't surveyed all the residential uses.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: All right. If it's only one that has that level of density, then obviously there's a lack of pedestrian traffic today, is it because the lack of residential development that is density? So I think the councilman's point is he's looking not at what exists today, we don't see, you say there's no pedestrian, I see no pedestrians there, and, therefore, it's unnecessary. But, by virtue of building this, pedestrians will be placed there.
THE WITNESS: Pedestrians will be placed on Chestnut going from this site to the downtown, not where you're indicating.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: But based on what did you make that determination because
THE WITNESS: Based on observing the pedestrian patterns in the area.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: But which pedestrian patterns, because the type of development doesn't exist, so I would say to point
THE WITNESS: But residential development exists all around here. There's houses in the aerial photo I'm looking at now, there's houses all around here.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: My question was at that density, so that density is bringing in a different clientele?
THE WITNESS: Right, and all the planning documents that went into the zoning of this property would tell you that that clientele, their desire line is between this site and the downtown along Chestnut Street. So that's the induced pedestrian pattern that I testified about.
MS. McWILLIAMS: Would they never walk straight ahead to the grocery store which is directly down Robinson Lane? Would there be any reason to take that walk?
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Would there never be a reason for the
MR. WELLS: Let the record reflect that there is no grocery store directly down Robinson Lane.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: I'm actually going to, but there is a pathway to the grocery store and there are in fact two grocery stores that might be of interest to that particular resident, be it or perhaps have another reason to go to Village Hall, perhaps they'll have a reason to go to the field, perhaps they'll have a reason to go to the dry cleaners or the takeout place. So there are a variety of reasons. You're making an assumption they're ever going to walk in one direction, as if the whole world exists due south of that location, but that's not really true, because if you were to believe that we are a vibrant community with many places to go to, as a matter of fact, I think the Graydon Pool is due east or northeast of that location, so necessarily if they wanted to go swimming for the day, they would go northeast, right? Yes, northeast.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Or even the Y, which is
THE WITNESS: All of these things already existed today for all of the residents that surround this area. So that pattern is not prevalent with the existing residential uses that surround the site, so it is possible to conclude that there's not a significant pedestrian pattern induced by this site, if all of the other houses around here aren't inducing this type of pattern. It doesn't have anything to do with density, it just has to do with do residential uses exist and do they induce pedestrians doing all of these hypothetical things that the board is discussing. And the fact of the matter is that they don't. The primary pattern, which you can see out there today, is people traversing back and forth to the downtown via Chestnut Street, and that's my conclusion.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: I think we have to know to that conclusion how many actual apartments are occupied in that area on a residential basis, because I'm just thinking where the library is located, our library is a very impressive building. So I don't necessarily agree with your assumptions but
MR. WELLS: Mayor, can I make a suggestion. Obviously you and COUNCILMAN VOIGT have an opinion here, and it may be that your expert shares your opinion, I don't know whether you confirmed with him. This particular expert indicates that he does not believe there is a problem, that's the testimony, that's the record. If there needs to be some continuing honestly, I can tell you on behalf of the applicant, if it turns out that there is a real need and there's a way to do it, remember, we don't own this property, we're not adverse to solving a real need, if it exists. We don't know that there is one. This expert has told you there isn't one, you know, so I think that's as far as we can go at this point.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: We just want to ensure that it's apportioned fairly.
MR. WELLS: And I've already indicated and it's in the record, that if it's determined that a sidewalk is necessary and the village sees fit to do with it what it needs to do to get a sidewalk into that area, we will participate in that and we will pay a fair share of that. So stipulated at the last meeting. Not a problem.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: COUNCILMAN VOIGT, do you have any more questions?
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: I had but
CHAIRMAN JOEL: It's kind of a melee.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: I'm just going to skip right now.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Melanie?
MS. McWILLIAMS: The dates of the traffic study, I'm just trying to make sure I have it correct, because I did just get this later today, it's 1/18, 1/19, and I believe the 8th of February, right? I'm trying to get through it as fast as I can, and those are the only dates?
MR. WELLS: You asked for the dates when the actual counts were done
MS. McWILLIAMS: Yes.
MR. WELLS: or the dates of the actual report?
MS. McWILLIAMS: I just want to make sure I didn't miss any.
MR. WELLS: No, that's okay.
THE WITNESS: Yes, February I'm sorry, January 18th and 19th, 2017.
MS. McWILLIAMS: And an additional study done on the 8th of some additional studies were done on the 8th of February also?
THE WITNESS: No.
MS. McWILLIAMS: Okay. I think for the moment I need to hold off for my questions.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: All right.
Did you have a question?
MR. MARTIN: Mr. Joel, ask MR. JAHR.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: I don't have any questions.
MR. JAHR, do you have any questions?
MR. MARTIN: MR. WELLS, I know MR. JAHR is going to question, and then any questions can then go to him as to testimony. Once in while, you may have seen this, it might get a little bit crossed over, we'll try not to have that, but can we swear him in and will you stipulate to his credentials?
MR. WELLS: Why don't we get his credentials into the record, before we do that, and, by all means, let's get him sworn in.
MR. MARTIN: MR. JAHR, will you stand up, raise your right hand.
Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but truth, so help you God?
MR. JAHR: I do.
J O H N J A H R,
Having been duly sworn, testifies as follows:
MR. MARTIN: State your name and licensures for the record.
MR. JAHR: My name is John Jahr. I'm a Professional Transportation Planner and Traffic Signal Operations Specialist. I've been a traffic consultant for 27 years. I've served multiple boards throughout the state. I've testified before over 100 boards in the State of New Jersey. I've been qualified in the Superior Court in both Middlesex and Monmouth counties as a traffic expert.
MR. MARTIN: And with that, MR. WELLS, do you accept him as a traffic expert for the purposes of this hearing?
MR. WELLS: Yes.
MR. MARTIN: You may sit down. Do you have any questions for the applicant's traffic expert?
MR. JAHR: So, I received the letter from MR. WELLS and the applicant's response to my report only this evening, so
MR. WELLS: For the record, it was submitted well before the ten days to the village, and it's the responsibility of the village to get it to its own expert.
MR. JAHR: Okay. Withstanding that, I have had a chance to kind of peek through it, I have a few questions, but I guess the simplest question to ask to start out with is: Obviously there are some concerns regarding pedestrian traffic and whatnot. I'm looking for your traffic counts. Did your traffic enumerators also record pedestrians when they were counting the cars or was that not done at the time your traffic counts were done?
THE WITNESS: They weren't recorded, they were just it was observed if there was any pedestrian activity.
MR. JAHR: When I've been in that neighborhood, I've seen quite a few children walking about and specifically right across the street is a place where youth tend to gather. And, of course, I do agree that a good amount of people
MR. WELLS: You know, I'm going to object, that was testimony. When he's been in the neighborhood, he's observed children on Chestnut Street, presumably.
MR. JAHR: Okay. I will be more specific as to my questions. So pedestrians were not counted?
THE WITNESS: Pedestrian activity was observed.
MR. JAHR: Can you provide the data of those observations?
THE WITNESS: There was no pedestrian activity observed at Oak and Robinson. There was approximately 50 pedestrians an hour in the various primary crosswalks at Franklin and Chestnut.
MR. JAHR: Okay. You say that you do not feel that sidewalk is necessary to be continuous from your project to Franklin Avenue. Can you give us a little more understanding as to why you feel that way?
MR. WELLS: Objection, that was not his testimony.
THE WITNESS: I didn't say that. That was the opposite of what I said.
MR. JAHR: Can you clarify that for me?
THE WITNESS: I said we're going to complete the sidewalk network. It's going to be a complete network all the way from our site along Chestnut to Franklin. Once we do our sidewalk along our frontage, the entire network will be completed.
MR. JAHR: Excellent. Good. When you were doing your counts and your evaluation, can you give us some understanding of the intersection of Robinson and Chestnut and whether it would be appropriate to have an all way stop there or if it meets warrants for crosswalks? Did you look at that when you did your study?
THE WITNESS: I didn't look at that more analysis, but based on the fact that we didn't observe any pedestrian movements, I don't think a crosswalk is required at that location. And based on the traffic capacity analysis, a four way stop is not required either.
MR. WELLS: And let the record reflect, notwithstanding the fact that our expert does not believe it is necessary, because of strong feelings by members of the board, we've indicated that we are willing to put a crosswalk in, despite the fact that our expert indicates there's not enough pedestrian traffic to justify it.
MR. JAHR: Okay. At the intersection of Robinson Lane and Oak Street, we see a predominant north/south traffic pattern with a heavy left turning volume from Robinson Lane onto Oak Street. Reviewing your capacity analysis, could you point out to me what effect that left turn has at the intersection of Robinson and Oak?
THE WITNESS: It's about two cars a minute making that left. It's not really that heavy. It's one of the largest movements at a fairly lightly traveled intersection, but it's 121 an hour, so that's about two cars a minute making that movement. It doesn't really have any kind of negative effect.
MR. JAHR: And your level of service is still a
THE WITNESS: Level of service at that location, let me just find it. Is level of service C.
MR. JAHR: COUNCILMAN VOIGT picked out your PM peak hour at Franklin and Chestnut, where you have levels of service E and D for the northbound movements, north and southbound movements respectively. Can you explain what the thresholds are for the level of service, because they're very close to the numbers that you have, and why you think that those levels of service were not very good at those locations?
THE WITNESS: Level of service E has an upper delay threshold of 50 seconds, meaning if you get an average delay above 50 seconds, you would have level of service F. The E is 38 seconds and 41 seconds in this case, so it doesn't get up to the threshold of 50, so it's an E instead of an F. And the reason for that is based on the flows along Franklin are fairly significant during peak hours, so delays for people trying to get out of Chestnut would be higher because of that volume.
MR. JAHR: And I'm sure you've seen this before, what would you say would be the measures that give and take to mitigate this?
THE WITNESS: That was actually addressed in the study. It's already been done for the town.
There was a study commissioned and the traffic data was collected in January of 2016. And their main conclusion about Chestnut and Franklin was to allow only right turns out of Chestnut onto Franklin, don't allow lefts and throughs, and then you can reduce the delay.
MR. JAHR: I'm not so sure that that would do very much at Oak, though, because right now if we were to take the left turns off of there, where would they go, in your opinion?
THE WITNESS: The study recommends that those turns divert down to Oak and use the traffic signal of Franklin.
MR. WELLS: Mr. Chairman, are you able to tell us who did that study?
THE WITNESS: Yes, I will find that study.
MR. MARTIN: Thank you, MR. WELLS.
THE WITNESS: It's a study entitled "Ridgewood Downtown Zoning Impacts Analysis," dated March 2016. It's got BFJ Planning, RBA Group, Urbanomics, and Ross Haber Associates, prepared by those four groups, and Chapter 3.0 is entitled "Traffic Impacts."
MR. WELLS: I would indicate for the record that I believe this was the study prepared for the mayor and council that they separately contracted for after the Planning Board recommended the rezoning, and they had their own separate traffic study done and this is a part of that report.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Gordon Meth did the traffic study, it was RBA?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: So Ross Haber didn't do this whole study, correct?
THE WITNESS: It's got many chapters. So, there were four entities that contributed to this study. I believe Chapter 3 on traffic would have been RBA, yes.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Can you just tell me, the traffic that would be headed south on Oak would make a right turn and then divert to the traffic light at Broad and Franklin?
THE WITNESS: What I was discussing was that if you restricted the left turn out of Chestnut at Franklin, then that traffic would then divert to Oak in order to make a left out of Franklin because there's a traffic light.
MR. WELLS: MR. JAHR, you were questioning THE WITNESS.
MR. JAHR: Interesting enough, you know, I have a study for the intersection of Oak that says that that intersection is already crashing at level of service F, but that's irrelevant to my question to you about that intersection.
MR. WELLS: I'm going to just put in the record that this application was filed last June, MR. JAHR was retained by the village shortly thereafter. We continue to pay escrow fees so he can do these things. So if the village needs additional assistance, needs his study, please do your job. The record should reflect that if he's got opinions on this, by all means he should be communicating them to the Planning Board.
MR. JAHR: MR. TROUTMAN, could you kind of summarize your figure? I think it would be very helpful for everybody to understand the traffic volumes that this development is going to realize in the AM and PM peak hour. All right. So for the sake of helping the board understand the actual volumes that you anticipate, could you go over your volumes, your site generated only traffic volumes on Figure 3 to kind of have everybody get an understanding of what we're talking about here.
MR. WELLS: I'm going to let the expert answer that, but, for the record, he testified extensively to that at the last hearing in detail, but MR. JAHR I don't believe was present that evening, apparently has not read the record. You can answer it again, if you'd like.
MR. MARTIN: MR. WELLS, quite frankly I could use a little refresh of my recollection, I'd appreciate that.
THE WITNESS: Yes. In the report that was submitted to the board, traffic volume diagrams are included in the back, and Figure 3 shows the site generated turning movements throughout the street network. And all that is just showing the total movements in the weekday AM peak day hour is seven movements entering the site at the two site driveways and 17 cars exiting the site out of the two site driveways, and then where all those cars turn at subsequent intersections, basically they split in half down to Robinson and Oak or to Franklin and Chestnut. In the weekday PM peak hour, which is the next figure, Figure 4, shows the 18 cars that would be coming back into the two driveways at the site and the 11 cars that would be going out of the driveways during the weekday PM peak hour and how those movements would affect other intersections.
MR. JAHR: MR. TROUTMAN, a simple question. How would DOT categorize the traffic from this development?
THE WITNESS: They would grant a letter of no interest for this development, because it doesn't generate a significant increase in traffic. So no traffic study, a letter of no interest.
MR. JAHR: And the only volume I see that kind of jumps out is, there seems to be a pretty heavy demand, comparatively, bearing in mind that none of traffic seems to be very heavy, comparatively, the left turns from Robinson onto Oak appears to be, you know, a place of concern. So that is one of the locations that I do have concerns with regard to pedestrian traffic and safety. So I will look at that further.
MR. WELLS: Okay. That was testimony, but I'll ask a question then. What is the level of service on the left hand turns from Robinson to Oak?
THE WITNESS: That is the eastbound approach, and that's level of service C.
MR. WELLS: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Anything further?
MR. JAHR: I have nothing further. Again, I obviously need to go through and make sure that the comments of my letter, I will offer, for the sake of finishing up here, to just write a letter closing out my comments that I wrote on January 16th with regard to this report that I received, so I can respond back, if all of my comments have been addressed in the report to the board and to the applicant.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Just to follow up on your first question.
MR. TROUTMAN, did you realize that there was a little play area by the YMCA for kids, like a little play park?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: And did you take that into consideration with respect to traffic at all?
THE WITNESS: We would just observe if there was anything unusual as a result of that. It didn't stand out.
MR. WELLS: Just as a matter of judicial record, do you know whether that park is open to the public?
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Well, it's the YMCA.
MR. WELLS: It's actually the YWCA.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: I'm just asking what he observed.
MR. WELLS: There are two different entities within that building, and I don't believe that's open to the public.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Okay. Well, I mean, it's right in the area, it's right by the road, and I'm just seeing what he observed from it and if he took it into consideration.
THE WITNESS: There was nothing to consider. I mean, it was nondescript in terms of that.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Chris, do you have any questions?
MR. RUTISHAUSER: Just a couple, if I may.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Sure.
MR. MARTIN: Chris, raise your right hand.
Do you swear the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
MR. RUTISHAUSER: Yes, I do.
C H R I S T O P H E R R U T I S H A U S E R, having been duly sworn, testifies as follows:
MR. MARTIN: And you are the Village Engineer for the Village of Ridgewood?
MR. RUTISHAUSER: That is correct.
MR. MARTIN: And, MR. WELLS, you will stipulate to this qualifications in that regard?
MR. WELLS: Eminently qualified.
MR. MARTIN: Thank you.
MR. RUTISHAUSER: Thank you. One minor thing. Which edition of the ITE did you use for the site traffic?
THE WITNESS: Ninth edition.
MR. RUTISHAUSER: And then did you also, when you looked at the intersections, particularly at the Robinson Lane and Oak, did the condition of the roadway or its geometry have any bearing in your analysis?
THE WITNESS: No, I didn't see anything in the condition of the roadway. There's no factor for that in the formulas for capacity, so the condition of the road doesn't factor into the analysis.
MR. RUTISHAUSER: Because I know like where Robinson approaches Oak, we got a pretty pronounced dip, it's certainly not conducive to going very fast, if I recall. I don't know if you had seen that also?
THE WITNESS: Yes, when Robinson approach is up on the stop sign.
MR. RUTISHAUSER: Yes.
THE WITNESS: Right.
So the cars have to stop anyway.
MR. RUTISHAUSER: Hopefully.
THE WITNESS: They all did.
MR. RUTISHAUSER: Okay.
MR. WELLS: A dip and a stop sign, that gets you to stop.
MR. RUTISHAUSER: Not always. I know you stated earlier in your testimony that you didn't do any pedestrian counts. Did you notice any pedestrian activity going from one end of Chestnut to the apartment complex at the north end?
THE WITNESS: I didn't see where the Chestnut pedestrians went. I saw them at Franklin. So, no, I didn't see them.
MR. RUTISHAUSER: Okay. Given that Franklin already has a light along Broad Street and Oak Street, would you recommend, if the traffic warranted or the development warranted, a light at the Chestnut Street/Franklin intersection?
THE WITNESS: I would not recommend that, it's too close to the other two existing.
MR. RUTISHAUSER: In proximity to the other lights?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
MR. RUTISHAUSER: Nothing further. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Thanks, Chris. Chris, do you have any questions?
MR. MARTIN: MR. TROUTMAN, you were asked a question about a study that you looked into, I guess a collection of your data. I think MR. WELLS described it was prepared in furtherance of the Village of Ridgewood's request on traffic. I think you said there were four parts to it?
THE WITNESS: No, I said there were four entities who contributed to it.
MR. WELLS: MR. MARTIN, it really was in response to your expert's question as to other things, studies in that regard. I don't think it belongs in this record, but we can certainly put it in the record, it's an extensive study done at a cost of $50,000. It was contracted for by the Mayor and Council after they received a recommendation from the Planning Board to do the rezoning, and they wanted to reconfirm that and they had that study done. It's an extensive study, and, quite frankly, very complete, but it's not terribly relevant to what's before this board on traffic, which is simply: Do we have safe access on and off our property? So if you want it in the record, my suggestion is have your traffic expert put it in the record.
MR. MARTIN: Let me ask MR. TROUTMAN. In terms of the traffic study that MR. WELLS just described and the four entities that were involved in it, any part of that did you consider as material to your opinions in this application?
THE WITNESS: I referenced it to get some history on other studies in the area.
MR. MARTIN: And what specifically, was it in your February 9th submission or was it in one of the other ones that you submitted in terms of this application? I'm just trying to figure out whether it's relevant or not.
THE WITNESS: No, it was just a document that I reviewed as part of my investigation.
MR. MARTIN: And, MR. JAHR, did you have an opportunity to look at that in conjunction with your review of MR. TROUTMAN's, what was it, three reports at this point?
THE WITNESS: It's three reports.
MR. WELLS: I think it's two reports, and his testimony this evening was that his report that he submitted several weeks ago replaced his earlier report, because it completely included all of the material in his earlier reports. So it's not a supplement, it's a replacement of the earlier report.
MR. MARTIN: So the other reports are subsumed in this one current report?
MR. WELLS: That's right.
MR. MARTIN: It's not a supplement?
MR. WELLS: Am I mischaracterizing? Is that what you indicated?
THE WITNESS: It puts all of the data in one report. Our prior filing should also still be considered relevant, because it commented on some Residential Site Improvement Standards that we looked at.
MR. WELLS: Okay. I stand corrected, both reports are relevant and in the record.
MR. MARTIN: For his opinions?
MR. WELLS: Yes.
MR. MARTIN: Okay.
MR. JAHR, in light of the two reports, did you also take a look at that study that MR. WELLS referenced and MR. TROUTMAN referenced?
MR. JAHR: I'm aware of the previous report that was done and I read through it. I am not using it as the basis for my review for this Planning Board application and others that are here. I'm taking each Planning Board application as stand alones, and the traffic elements of that for each applicant by itself. I'm not using that study as the base point or reference for any of these reviews.
MR. MARTIN: Okay. And, MR. TROUTMAN, you described what you used it for, basically a historical content?
THE WITNESS: It was one of the documents I reviewed in my investigation.
MR. MARTIN: Okay. But there's nothing material from that in any if your opinions from those reports? I'm just trying to figure out what's applicable here.
THE WITNESS: I would say what's in that report is consistent with what I found wherever the studies overlap; for example, at Franklin and Chestnut.
MR. MARTIN: All right. MR. JAHR, you said you're going to do a response essentially to closeout your position on this, if there's no further submission by MR. TROUTMAN, correct?
MR. JAHR: If that pleases the board.
MR. MARTIN: I'll leave that up to the board.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Any further questions before I ask the public?
MS. McWILLIAMS: I have one too. Sorry. Just quickly going back to the crosswalk, which I was happy to hear you say if it's necessary you'll put in. The folks on Chestnut, that go from Chestnut to Oak, just a little up from your proposed development, they empty out onto Oak. So the many schoolchildren and commuters that live in there do tend to go down the front steps of those apartments and walk up Oak, up to the train, simply because there's sidewalks and they're pretty wide and open. If you did build, since you would be set out on the other side of Chestnut, the crosswalk that you would potentially be putting in there, because you did say that there's no pedestrian traffic and that you don't expect there to be any car traffic, so I'm wondering, will everybody just stay inside? I guess if they're going to come out, will they in a crosswalk, would you be adverse to putting in a crossing guard potentially? Because there's no stopping, standing, parking of any kind for a bus along Chestnut, you couldn't stop for schoolchildren, and I know the bus does pickup the Ridge schoolchildren right in front of the Oak Street Apartments, so I would assume these children would also have to walk down Robinson Lane to get to a bus.
MR. WELLS: So you're talking about a crossing guard on Chestnut Street?
MS. McWILLIAMS: Right, for any potential schoolchildren that would have to exit the building and come down to Oak to meet a bus? I mean, it is where a bus would pick them up, there is no way a bus could stop along Chestnut safely and collect students, so I'm just wondering.
MR. WELLS: Obviously, we do not believe that the student population in this building is going to be substantial. That's a whole big discussion that was had prior to the zoning process. And as I stand here, I am unaware of the standards that are utilized by, I guess the Board of Education, in establishing where they need crossing guards. So I guess that would have to be determined by them. Just, I have no idea. I mean, obviously they don't put them on every corner.
MS. McWILLIAMS: No.
MR. WELLS: So I don't know when they determine that would be necessary. My guess would be it's not necessary here, but we can certainly look into it. I don't even know what they does anybody know? Do you?
MR. MARTIN: I believe that's in conjunction with the police.
MR. WELLS: But is it determined by the Board of Education?
MS. McWILLIAMS: Well, some have a hard time getting paid for at every place a person might want a crosswalk. It's actually hard to get them at all the necessary crosswalks. In the event this adds additional crosswalk with additional schoolchildren and an additional safety concern, given that it is a stretch for our budget as it stands, would it be something you'd consider discussing?
MR. WELLS: Again, without confirming with my client, we absolutely want a safe situation, so should there be a situation where there's a necessity of a crossing guard, certainly we'll contribute or help figure that out. I don't even begin to know what that process is. And, again, it seems that that would be a really low number of students crossing there.
MS. McWILLIAMS: Even if one student needed to cross that busy road.
MR. WELLS: At that standard, you would have a crossing guard at every single crossing in the village.
MR. MARTIN: MR. WELLS, the village engineer might know.
MR. RUTISHAUSER: Crossing guard posts are selected by the police department in conjunction with the Board of Ed.
Yes, as MS. McWILLIAMS said, there is a budget consideration with that; however, the village has outsourced for this current school year crossing guards to a private entity, and as a result there's very good feedback.
MS. McWILLIAMS: I think that's it.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: All right. The public could ask questions now. If anyone wants to come up and ask a question of MR. TROUTMAN?
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Seeing that, going once, going twice.
All right. No public questions, so you can move on to your next witness, counselor.
MR. WELLS: All right. Good.
MR. LYDON: Good evening, everyone.
MR. MARTIN: Good evening.
Sir, do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
MR. LYDON: Yes, I do.
S T E V E N L Y D O N,
25 Westwood Avenue, Westwood, New Jersey, having been duly sworn, testifies as follows:
MR. MARTIN: Can you state your name and business address and licensure for the record.
MR. LYDON: Sure.
My name is Steve, with a V, Lydon, L Y D O N, and our address is 25 Westwood Avenue, Westwood, New Jersey. I'm employed by Burgis Associates as a Professional Planner.
MR. MARTIN: Is that V E N or P H E N?
MR. LYDON: V.
MR. MARTIN: Okay.
BY MR. WELLS:
Q. Why don't you, if you would, MR. LYDON, run through your educational and professional background between your opportunities to do planning work and testimony work?
A. Sure. I have a degree from Rutgers University, and for the last 16 years I've been a Professional Planner employed by Burgis Associates. Prior to my tenure at Burgis, I was a planning director and zoning officer in a Morris County community for about 11 years or so. In that capacity, I prepared reports and attended Board of Adjustment and Planning Board meetings, as well as meetings of the Mayor and Council, and occasionally testified in municipal court. Those are my primary responsibilities at Burgis, except I also testify on behalf of private developers. And in my experience at Burgis, I have testified in front of Superior Court in Bergen, Hunterdon, and I believe Passaic County. I regularly attend Planning Board meetings, I don't count them, however. Prior to working in Denville, I was development review chief for West Milford Township. And prior to that, I worked at the Bergen County Planning Board. I've been licensed as a Professional Planner here in New Jersey since sometime in the late '80s, I believe, maybe 1988. And my license is still current, and it's up for renewal the end of March.
MR. WELLS: I'm satisfied, MR. MARTIN, but you usually have a few more questions, so...
MR. MARTIN: No, as a Professional Planner yes?
MR. WELLS: Yes.
MR. MARTIN: All right. Thank you, sir.
BY MR. WELLS:
Q.MR. LYDON, in order to speed us up, you had brought several boards that you wanted to use.
This board already has A 24, which is your planning report. Why don't we get the other things identified, let's take this one, your handout first.
Q. And if you could identify what we're going to mark A 25.
A 25 is a series of images taken by me sometime this fall, there are two per page, and there are seven pages, for a total of 14 images.
Q. Now, are these photographs?
A. No, digital images taken by me sometime this fall.
MR. WELLS: I'd like to have that marked A 25.
MR. MARTIN: I'm going to call them digital photos, okay, MR. LYDON?
THE WITNESS: Fine.
(Fourteen digital images taken by S. Lydon, P.P., are marked as exhibit A 25 for identification.)
BY MR. WELLS:
Q. MR. LYDON, why don't you go on to A 26.
A. A 26 is a 24x36 image prepared by our office under my direction entitled "Existing Land Use and Zoning Map," and the project title is "Two Forty Associates," and it has a date of September 6, 2016. (24x36 image prepared by Burgis Associates, entitled "Existing Land Use and Zoning Map," dated 9/6/16, is marked as exhibit A 26 for identification.)
BY MR. WELLS:
Q. How about A 27? I see you put it on the other side.
A. I'm going to use this one.
A 27 is an aerial photograph of the site and the property surrounding the site. It is called "Site Photo Key and Aerial Map," again the project title is "Two Forty Associates," and this is dated October 17, 2016. (Aerial photograph entitled "Site Photo Key and Aerial Map," dated 10/17/16, is marked as exhibit A 27 for identification.)
THE WITNESS: (Continuing) What I want to focus on is, this exhibit has a number of letters in red, A through N, and those refer to the photos or digital images, I think you called them
BY MR. WELLS:
Q. Digital photos.
A. Digital photos, and they relate to this key showing where those photos were taken.
Q. I think you'll explain that more in your testimony.
Let's do A 28, please.
A 28 is a series of seven images also taken by me. This has a project name of "Two Forty Associates," and it was prepared on 12/19/2016, and there are seven photos of the surrounding area. (Seven digital images of surrounding area taken by S. Lydon, P.P., dated 12/19/16, are marked as exhibit A 28 for identification.)
BY MR. WELLS:
Q. Okay. Using A 25 through A 28, if you would explain to the board why this particular site plan application is appropriate for passage or not, and, in particular, focus, if you would, on the two what I call "minor technical variances," and you may or may not agree with that, in terms of whether those variances are appropriate for the board to approve?
A. Certainly, MR. WELLS. I'll do that.
This is probably not angled the way you members can see it.
Q. Yes, we're trying to help Michael on his TV.
A. I understand that.
Q. You tell us what we can do.
MS. McWILLIAMS: I can see.
MR. MARTIN: MR. JAHR, do you want to come over to see?
MR. WELLS: Why don't you switch to that seat and then you can see?
MR. JAHR: I'll go down and have a look.
MR. WELLS: Okay.
THE WITNESS: As MR. JAHR does that, the center of the exhibit has a black outline around the C R designation, and that's the property in question. North of this map is up, and the C R zone is in between two very important things, one is Chestnut Street and the other is the Conrail Erie Lackawanna Railroad. There are a number of colors on this page, and they describe the surrounding land uses. The lovely Pepto Bismol color is what this identifies as quasi public; more specifically, on the west side of the railroad is the Bergen County Housing Authority senior housing project, multifamily project, which is depicted in the later exhibit. The Pepto Bismol color immediately south of the subject property is the PSE&G substation. East of the subject site and east of the Chestnut Street and south of Robinson Lane is the YM and YWCA that MR. WELLS spoke about earlier. The other prominent color on this exhibit is red, and that is basically commercial development.
You'll see there's commercial development to the north of the subject site. There is commercial development to the south of the commercial site, along Franklin Avenue to the bottom of the exhibit as you would expect. And there is more commercial development on the opposite side of Chestnut Street, that would be the east side, north of Robinson Lane, all the way to Douglas Place. The blue shaded properties are those that are publicly oriented or owned. The most prominent one is the village DPW yard farther north on the same side of the street as the subject property. And then we have a yellow color, which depicts multifamily housing. The office debated whether or not we should depict the Bergen County Housing property as multifamily or public, and public won out. I think the guy wanted to use the Pepto Bismol color. But what this demonstrates is there are a number, a variety of land uses in the immediate vicinity, and I think people who travel Chestnut Street or Robinson Lane are fairly aware of that. Of course, the subject site now is devoid of a building; there are pavements on it and there are some retaining walls on it. There is a small band of steeper slopes in the southwest corner of the lot. It's significant, in that those steep slopes represent 740 square feet of lot area. To give that some context, the subject property is 54,104 square feet. So of that 54,000 some odd square foot lot, 740 square feet are steep, according to the Ridgewood Zoning Ordinance. And those, that band of steep slopes is at its widest 20 feet wide. So it's a very small and isolated band of steep slopes.
The other thing that's significant in my analysis of this application is those slopes have been previously disturbed. There's an existing wood and steel retaining wall that's been constructed below the slopes. So we're not talking about a significant portion of the lot, nor are we talking about an undisturbed area of the site. And I will point out that when I say the "southwest," those steep slopes are in this little westerly extension of the property that kicks out towards the railroad. And those slopes are in fact adjacent to the railroad property. You've heard earlier testimony that the applicant's proposing 43 residential dwellings; seven dwellings are to be made available to low income/moderate income households, in full compliance with the Council on Affordable Housing and the UHAC rules. The UHAC rules, if I remember right, stand for Universal oh, gosh Uniform Housing Affordability Controls are the UHAC regulations. And the seven dwelling units which are going to be reserved for affordable housing and low income households will be in full compliance with those, including bedroom distribution. In fact, the only three bedroom dwellings in this development will be for the low and moderate income household units.
Because this is a rental development, the village will qualify for seven bonus credits. So there are a total of 43 residential units in this development. The village will qualify, under current regulations, for 14 credits and bonus credits from the Council on Affordable Housing. I believe the proposed project serves to enhance the character of the immediate area, and to demonstrate that, I'd like to turn to what's been marked as A 28. These are some images that I have taken of the surrounding area. Image No. 1 shows the building at the crest of the hill to the south of us, and it's prominent for its vertical nature, a very high wall immediately adjacent to the right of way. The professional office building just south of the subject property is also notable for its vertical nature. This is a three story building with a very shallow setback to Chestnut Street. Photo No. 3 is the body and fender, auto body shop to the north of us on the same side of Chestnut Street. Photo No. 4 is a picture looking towards the railroad embankment that is behind or to the west of the auto body shop. And I'm sure none of you can see this, but it shows a series of retaining walls and then what appears to be a slope up to the rail lines of about 15 feet. It's a relatively lightly wooded embankment. Image 5 is the relatively high wall of the YWCA, I believe. The YW is the south part of the building.
MR. WELLS: They share the whole building.
THE WITNESS: They share the whole building, I stand corrected. And then photo 6 is from Robinson looking to the south, just giving a more regional perspective. And photo 7 is taken in a similar location, but looking somewhat to the west. And I kind of like photo 7, because it shows that the three story building sort of gets hidden and tucked under the existing landscaping that you can see there. And because these pictures were taken in late fall, there are some leaves on some of the oak trees, but, by and large, the leaves have dropped, and even still, from not too great a distance, the three story building just to the south of us sort of blends in with the vegetation and becomes somewhat difficult to see. So that's the sort of the visual aesthetic of the area. I think the drawings that MR. WELLS has prepared will enhance the character of this area dramatically. I think the design that MR. WELLS has come forward with incorporates high quality residential architectural features and reflects the traditional architecture found in the village, which is important, because those are some of the tasks that the zoning ordinance challenges a developer to come up with for this zone. It's important to note that the building conforms with all setback and coverage requirements, and 81 parking stalls are both required and proposed.
Moving to the zone, the property in question is in a commercial/residential zone. And this zone has an intent, which is incorporated into the document itself, the ordinance, and it says to "accommodate multifamily housing in a location that can address the housing needs and preferences of certain households and which supports the CBD." Now, I believe this site does. There's been a lot of talk about pedestrian traffic orientation, and it is to the south, in our estimation, towards Franklin Avenue, and that's not so much my estimation, but that of MR. TROUTMAN. And the future residents of this development I think will support the CBD. More specifically, multifamily dwellings, such as Gordon Apartments and other types of housing are permitted if the property exceeds one acre in size. And, as I mentioned earlier, this subject property is 54,000 square feet and change and is 1.24 acres, so it meets that criteria. I mentioned earlier that the building performs in all setback and coverage requirements. It also complies with the density requirements of the zone, the impervious coverage, and the building height limitations.
MR. WELLS earlier mentioned that there are two variances that we're seeking: One is for retaining walls, and the other one is for disturbance of steep slopes. And if I might, I'd like to shift to exhibit A 27. What we've done with A 27 is we've taken an aerial map, and it's been prepared in our office under my direction but not personally by me, and we superimposed the village tax map on the aerial photograph. And if you look closely, you'll see some areas where it looks like the lines are a little close. I wouldn't say this is perfect, but it's a good planning tool. And just to orient everybody, the railroad goes through the center of the page in a north/south direction, just a little to the west of Chestnut Street, and the subject property has a highlighted white border. The exhibit, the handout, A 25, which is a series of seven pages, is designed to show some of the wall features in the neighborhood. They are all on the west side of Chestnut Street facing the railroad. So if you look at, and we're going to go through A 25 in a second, all of the properties north of Franklin Avenue up until the village's DPW yard benefit from and have constructed retaining walls along the railroad. Photo A on A 25 shows the wall between the New Jersey Transit tracks and the parking, and this wall varies in height between three and a half and 5 1/2 feet. This photo was taken just south of the PSE&G station, actually there's another building between the PSE&G station and where these photos were taken, but they're looking almost directly to the west. Photo B is the rear of Block 2005 Lot 5.02, and that's the building right south of the subject property and north of the PSE&G substation. And that wall height is 10 feet. And it is a concrete retaining wall with some vegetation on top. And you get a good visual of how tall that wall is by looking at the automobiles. Photo C is the same site, just a little bit farther north, and here it's an 11 foot high wall. Again, poured concrete. And D is the same site at the northwest corner, again a poured concrete wall, but here it's 12.2 feet in height. And here there's a fence on top of the wall, that white fence that you see.
In photo E, you can see that same white fence. This is the subject site, and I mentioned earlier that there are walls along the subject site. This one is in the southwest corner of the lot, and it's a steel and wood retaining wall. It's about 8 1/2 feet in height. And obviously it's an existing wall. So this site has benefited from the existing walls from back when it was developed with the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles Inspection Station. Photo F is a side wall of PQ (phonetic), and this timber wall with the steel reinforcement is about 8 1/4 feet in height. And that is actually on the south side of the subject property. Photo G is again the same timber wall, different view, and here's it's tiered with the lower portion of the wall 3.8 feet in height and the upper portion is 4.8 feet in height. And then the photo H shows the same wall, but a little bit higher, as it is 8 1/2 feet in height. Photo I is taken just north of the site at the Village Body and Fender, I think it goes by another name as well. And there you see a new retaining wall, it's a replacement wall, it's 4 1/2 feet tall. The older wall to the north of that is roughly 6 1/2 feet tall. And what's interesting about this photo is this building had an extension at one time to the west, and the side wall of that building actually functions as a retaining wall. And that wall will be, of course, sloped because there's a sloped roof on it. But there's a continuum of wall heights on this property.
J is a timber retaining wall that's behind the DPW yard. And to get this photo, I knocked on the door, they were welcoming enough to let me come upstairs and take a photo of it. Did a nice job with the lawn that they had. And the timber retaining wall is about 3 feet high and has a chain link fence, which we did not measure, on top of the timber wall, and that fence is, I suppose, both for security and safety purposes. The photo labeled as K is also along the DPW railroad boundary, and here it's 12 1/2 feet. The wall behind the bed of the pickup truck is part of the building constructed at the rear of the property, and, much like the village body site, functions as a retaining wall for the DPW yard, and that is a much taller wall. And L is a photo taken farther away and it gives you the full height of the wall and the pieces of the building that are above and don't function as a retaining wall, but obviously it is a high wall, and that's on the DPW yard.
N is also from the DPW yard. This retaining wall is 13 1/2 feet high and has some fencing on top of it. And then photo N is a north side of the Ridgewood DPW yard, where the building is built to the rear property line and acts as a retaining wall. So the purpose of this exhibit was to show the different types of walls and the different heights of walls along the section of properties that border the railroad up until the garages which serve the residential development at the very end, the northerly terminus of the Chestnut Street. There was a sign there that said "No Trespassing." I could not get images of what the wall there looks like. And, actually, from my observation from off the property, it looks like the back of the garages serving that development function as retaining walls. We're seeking (c) variances, and there are a number of reasons why the borough, the Village Planning Board can grant those variances. One is by reason of "exceptional narrowness, shallowness or shape of a specific piece of property." A second reason the board can grant the requested variance is by reason of "exceptional topographic conditions or physical features uniquely affecting this specific piece of property." Or three, by reasons of "extraordinary and exceptional situation uniquely affecting this specific piece of property with the structures lawfully existing thereon" and where the strict application of any regulation would result in peculiar and exceptional practical difficulties, and that I'm paraphrasing from Section 70c of the Municipal Land Use Law.
And then you can also grant a variance under the (c)(2) clause, where the purposes of the MLUL would be advanced by a deviation of the zoning ordinance and the benefits of that deviation would substantial outweigh any detriment resulting from the grant of the variance. Ridgewood regulates steep slopes pursuant to Section 190 120(e) of your code. And, of course, zoning ordinances need to be consistent with your village master plan. And I believe the so called "steep slopes" encountered on this site are not the kind of steep slopes that ordinances like the one Ridgewood adopted are designed to protect. And I say that in recalling that the steep slopes here are just 740 square feet out of a 54,000 square foot lot and the slopes are a small, narrow band that have been disturbed years ago. The Ridgewood Master Plan on page 22 discusses the need for steep slope protection and it talks about steep slope areas. This steep slope on this property is not an area. At best, it's a remnant, a remnant before the railroad went through, before Chestnut Street was developed, and before the properties along Chestnut Street were developed. It is only now 740 square feet, and it's only a narrow band 20 feet in width. That's less than the width of this room, probably less than the area of this room by a large factor.
The steep slopes on the site do not create and are not part of a significant land form that steep slope protection ordinances are designed to protect. We know that that's the purpose of the steep slope ordinance here in Ridgewood, because the ordinance tells us so. There were five public purposes for why Ridgewood adopted a steep slope ordinance: They were: To limit soil loss, to limit erosion, to limit excessive stormwater runoff, to limit the degradation of surface water, and to maintain the natural topography. Those are the five and the only five purposes for the ordinance. In addition to those five purposes, there are five benefits or five issues that the ordinance seeks to avoid. The ordinance seeks to avoid loss of aquatic life. The ordinance seeks to avoid increased flooding. The ordinance seeks to avoid further fragmentation of forest area. The ordinance seeks to avoid further fragmentation of habitat area. And the ordinance seeks to avoid compromised aesthetic values. I believe the steep slopes on this particular property are an exceptional topographic condition that uniquely affects this property. And, therefore, I believe that a variance from the ordinance can be granted under the (c)(1) clause of the statute. I believe that if this application were modified and those steep slopes were not touched and all disturbance of the steep slopes were avoided, I believe the purposes of the ordinance would not be any more protected than they are today with the design that we have. And that's because of the size, the isolated nature, and the narrow band of these steep slopes. All those factors taken together, the feared negative externalities that the steep slopes ordinance was designed to protect against are not going to occur. More specifically, if this application is approved and the requested variances are granted, it will not lead to the loss of aquatic life. It will not lead to increased flooding. It will not lead to fragmentation of forest area. It will not lead to the fragmentation of plant or animal habitat, nor will it contribute to compromise aesthetic values. And I guess as a Gemini, I'm not usually so emphatic, but here we're talking about the aesthetic value of steep slopes. They've been disturbed. There's a wall underneath them. They are as far from Chestnut Street as you can get on this particular property. There is no forest area adjacent to these steep slope areas. Our subject site was a DMV inspection station. The other site to the south of it, it's the office building site and the parking for the adjacent office building. I don't believe there's any significant animal habitat adjacent to the railroad tracks. There are no streams in the area. So I believe that the requested variance for disturbance to the steep slope area of 740 square feet can be granted without substantial detriment to the public good, nor will granting the requested variance substantially impair the intent and purpose of the zoning ordinance or the master plan, since the master plan specifically talks about "areas," and at 740 square feet, this is not a steep slope area, it's an isolated remnant of what might have been in the area.
The second variance we're seeking approval for concerns the height of retaining walls. Retaining walls were constructed as part of previous development and currently remain. They had been built up and down along the railroad property. We're actually changing out the walls and proposing replacement walls at generally similar heights and locations. I'm not going to tell you they're exactly the same height, in some cases they're actually lower, and I'm not going to tell you they're in the exact location, they may vary a foot or two in where they're located. There is one area where the proposed walls are a little different, and that's in the far southwestern portion of the lot. Again, that's the area farthest away from Chestnut Street. And that area is being proposed to be disturbed in order to provide the outdoor amenity area that the ordinance requires. Here the replaced walls are slightly closer to the railroad and slightly higher than the existing walls. And these walls are necessary to provide the amenity area, thereby furthering one of the purposes of the zoning ordinance, because when your C R zone was drafted, it required an external amenity area. So in order to provide that and further the purpose of the ordinance, this particular retaining wall is required. The benefits of replacement of the retaining walls are many and include aesthetic improvement. Right now, these walls are not the most aesthetic in nature. The proposed walls will mimic the architectural features of the building and be of a much higher aesthetic quality.
There will also be functional benefits and safety benefits as well, as the new wall will not be constructed of wood and the replacement wall will replace an existing wall which is beginning to fail. And that's not my conclusion, that was the testimony of MR. LAPATKA at the September meeting, he talked about the wall beginning to fail and there beginning to be a heightened erosion in that area. And you may recall one of the purposes of the steep slope ordinance is to avoid and limit erosion. So by allowing the developer, the applicant, to switch out the wall, so to speak, they'll be actually less erosion, thereby supporting one of the goals of the steep slope ordinance. No negative impact will result, if the variance is approved. There will be no substantial detriment to the public good. The proposed walls are not introducing a new or discord development into this neighborhood, that's shown on A 27. And, in fact, since the existing wall is beginning to deteriorate, it may actually, and I'm not a structural engineer, may actually provide additional public safety and welfare benefits by replacing a beginning to fail wall with a new wall.
It's also important to recognize that it's going to be very difficult to see these walls, even though I did say one of the benefits of replacing the walls is aesthetic improvement. The reality is, if the proposed building is constructed, people either walking or driving along Chestnut Street will have very limited opportunity to see this wall, because of its location and the intervening buildings that will be between Chestnut Street and the building. The aesthetic improvement is really for people who either have views out the office windows of the site to the south of us or residents of our particular site. Regardless, though, it will be a more aesthetically pleasing building. So I believe both variances can be granted without substantial detriment, and, in fact, there are benefits to the granting of both variances. That concludes my testimony in chief, unless you have any more questions, MR. WELLS.
MR. WELLS: Yes, very complete. I have no further questions.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Okay. Questions from the board.
Dave, we'll start with you.
MR. SCHEIBNER: You testified that this development will enhance the character of the neighborhood.
THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.
MR. SCHEIBNER: Do you think the converse is also true, that the current character of the neighborhood is actually a detriment to the quality of this development?
THE WITNESS: No, I wouldn't say that.
MR. SCHEIBNER: Is there a retaining wall on the east side of Chestnut Street in the area of the Y?
MR. WELLS: No, there's not. I mean, I can
MR. SCHEIBNER: There's not a retaining wall?
MR. WELLS: There's a fence kind of area.
MR. SCHEIBNER: Okay.
MR. WELLS: There's an area where and actually this board gave an approval for some fencing around the HVAC.
MR. SCHEIBNER: So
THE WITNESS: There's a guardrail on that side of the road.
MR. SCHEIBNER: The view of the Y, the YMCA/YWCA from Chestnut Street is sort of the utilitarian side of the building?
THE WITNESS: It's a brick wall, yes.
MR. WELLS: That's a very nice way to put it, the utilitarian side of the building. It's the back.
MR. SCHEIBNER: I'm going to be honest with you, my first reaction to the residential development on this property somehow seems isolated in a commercial/industrial area. And I suppose that it would be appealing to some people, but that and the nature of the access to the draw of the commercial zone, the commercial area, the business district, do you think that the neighborhood has a stroll sort of character to it?
MR. WELLS: I'm certainly going to encourage you to answer the question, but, as I've indicated before, the issues of whether or not the property was appropriately zoned are really not before this board, that was before this board at one time, made a master plan change, the ordinance was passed. Now we're really here on site plan approval, which is whether or not this site plan is appropriate, not whether this type of use is appropriate in the area. But that said, MR. LYDON, you did talk about the general area, and if you have any comments in terms of whether this appropriately fits in the area, by all means.
THE WITNESS: I think to answer your question, I think you have to look at well, I'll look at it from a holistic perspective. You are a very short distance from Franklin Avenue, as MR. TROUTMAN testified earlier, and then you have the benefit of the Ridgewood CBD. If you want to go to the Ridgewood coffee club, where I used to go when my kids went to the Y all the time or if you want to go to Ben and Jerry's across the street, so I think that there is nothing particularly difficult or unappealing as you walk from the proposed site to Franklin Avenue. And then once you're at Franklin Avenue, you're on the doorstep of the CBD, there are a lot of opportunities. And I would say it's a very pleasant walk, as one who walked to the Ridgewood CBD many times. So, in the context of the entire trip, I would say it is a walkable area, yes. And you used the word "strollable." I believe it is, yes.
MR. SCHEIBNER: Okay. And in some of the examples of the retaining walls you've provided photographs of, in my opinion the concrete retaining walls that had plantings cascaded over the side of it were by far the best looking. Is there a plan to put landscaping on top of the retaining walls at this location?
THE WITNESS: I don't recall, to answer your question, but I think when you perceive the walls that we're proposing, one way to look at your question is, well, gee, the wall is pretty ugly but the landscaping on top makes it bearable. In our situation, we're going to have a very attractive wall, which mimics the architecture of the building. So whether we have landscaping cascading down the wall or not, we're proposing, in my estimation, a much more attractive and aesthetically pleasing wall than poured concrete.
But I'm sure someone here can answer a question about landscaping on top of the wall, but it's going to be a much more attractive wall itself.
MR. WELLS: If you want, MR. LAPATKA did testify about it before, but he could talk some more about the appearance and the interrelationship of the fence and the landscaping, if you like.
MR. SCHEIBNER: No further questions.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: COUNCILMAN VOIGT?
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Yes. Can you help elucidate some of the benefits and detriments? I know for the (c)(2) variance, you might apply for help me understand what those are.
THE WITNESS: I didn't really focus much on the (c)(2) basis as much as the (c)(1); however, there is a (c)(2) benefit. This site will provide the village with 14 affordable housing credits at a critical time. Right now you're in litigation. This site is designed to provide affordable housing in the village. Right now the
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: I'm referring to the wall.
THE WITNESS: Right, I am referring to the wall.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Okay.
THE WITNESS: Under the wall let me back up. Under the (c)(2) basis, there's a court case, and MR. WELLS can get it for you, MR. MARTIN, I don't recall it now, I think it's the drugstore in Middlesex County, where the court said on a (c)(2) basis don't focus necessarily so narrowly on the benefits of the particular variance, but look at the entire development. So, in that light, and I'm terrible at citing cases, I apologize, this project will provide needed affordable housing in Ridgewood. Right now, as I understand, there is one group, there's one project not project, one development, that's the Bergen County Housing project development across on the west side of the tracks. If this application is approved and constructed, the village will receive 14 credits. Fourteen credits may not sound like a lot, but it does address the constitutional obligation that the village is operating under and required to provide.
MR. WELLS: Let me just clarify a little bit and you can help, if you need to. There's a (c)(1) variance and a (c)(2) variance. A (c)(1) variance is very particular because of unique circumstances, and, if anything, it's the harder variance to justify. MR. LYDON gave extensive testimony as to why you could grant this variance under (c)(1).
(C)(2) is more of a catchall, where it is consistent with zoning benefits versus detriments. So I believe what you're testifying is this is well justified under (c)(1) or a (c)(2).
THE WITNESS: Correct. And the (c)(2) portion gets to the fact that in order to provide the exterior amenity, which is required by the ordinance, the applicant needs to disturb that little 740 square foot area. The benefit of doing that is, it allows the rest of the development to go forward, and the rest of the development helps Ridgewood meet its constitutional obligation to provide for affordable housing.
MR. MARTIN: MR. LYDON, why the two credits for just regular fair share housing as opposed to special needs housing?
THE WITNESS: It's a rental project, and so the rental bonus, until you get to 25 percent of your obligation, is two for one. If it was a group home, the bedroom count becomes a unit that's counted, and there there's a crediting bonus of .33. So if you have a six unit group home, six bedroom group home, you would get six credits for each of the six bedrooms occupied by a low/moderate income household, not the one occupied by staff, and a .33 bonus credit for each bedroom. Here, because it's not a group home and it's a rental project, you get, you, the village, gets a credit for each apartment.
MR. MARTIN: So that's seven.
THE WITNESS: And then a bonus credit, because they're rentals for each apartment, so you would get 14 credits.
MR. MARTIN: And just refresh my recollection, way back when I think MR. LAPATKA or maybe MR. WELLS testified, are there going to be three bedroom units, the seven?
THE WITNESS: There will be, not all seven, but there's a bedroom distribution that's in the COAH regulations as well as the UHACs, and it requires that no fewer than 20 percent of the affordable units be three bedrooms. And this application, this applicant, is willing to provide three bedroom units. On a project this size, oftentimes an applicant seeks waivers from the bedroom distribution. This applicant is not seeking such a waiver. So we're proposing the two 3 bedroom units and the 2 bedroom units in accordance with the UHAC.
MR. MARTIN: Four of those, correct?
THE WITNESS: No, two.
MR. MARTIN: Four of the two bedroom units?
THE WITNESS: No, 2, 20 percent of the seven units.
MR. MARTIN: So two 3 bedroom units, two 2 bedroom units, and four single one bedroom units?
THE WITNESS: There's a maximum on the number of one bedrooms. So I think there is one one bedroom unit that will be deed restricted to affordable households, there will be two that are going to be deed restricted for affordable households that have three bedrooms, and the balance will be two bedroom units.
MR. WELLS: That I think is what MR. MARTIN said.
THE WITNESS: Oh, okay. I am having a hard time hearing.
MR. WELLS: And I don't want to confuse things, but there has been some discussion between this particular applicant and the possibility of creating affordable housing obligations, but specifically with group homes and so forth off site. And, if that happens, that certainly is something that can be done. But for the purpose of this application, the site plan application, we're just simply saying we're going to comply with the COAH requirements, and, if nothing else, we will be building them on site, but if something else works out, they'll do that.
MR. MARTIN: I just looked at what you testified to, which is basically the seven units of affordable housing, correct?
THE WITNESS: Correct.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: So my next question has to do with the steep slope, you keep referring to it as a remnant. I don't know what that means. Does that mean it's natural and it's remaining from what existed or is it man made? What is it?
THE WITNESS: As you look at the walls on exhibit A 25, I believe, which has been handed out to you, there are retaining walls on every property going north and south along the railroad. I think this particular section, this 750 feet, is what's left after other development came through and removed other parts of this steep slope area.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: So it's a naturally occurring steep slope as opposed to a man made steep slope, is that your opinion?
THE WITNESS: Well, it's hard to say it's naturally occurring, because there's a wall underneath it.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Oh, I see.
THE WITNESS: So what part of it may be natural and what part of it is man made gets a little dicey. I would say it's certainly a disturbed slope, and it's certainly a small slope, and it's about 20 feet wide. It could be a remnant of a natural slope or it could have been something the railroad created when it came through. I wouldn't pretend to know the exact history of this small area.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: One more question. You mentioned that you need to disturb this steep slope in order to provide the outdoor amenities. Is that correct?
THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Okay. Could you put the amenities somewhere else?
THE WITNESS: There was discussion about putting it in the front yard. We didn't think that was appropriate, for a number of reasons, and, quite frankly, when they do site design, there are always tradeoffs to be made. And if you look at the basis for the ordinance that's in the master plan, it certainly seems that this remnant, this small area, isn't really what the ordinance is trying to protect.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Yes. Here's my concern is that if you can't disturb that steep slope, okay, and that ends up being, for some reason, I don't know what that reason might be that you can't disturb it, okay, let's assume that, then you can't put the amenity there, where do you put the amenity?
THE WITNESS: Well, maybe you can't.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: And then if you can't put in the amenity, you can't comply with the ordinance?
THE WITNESS: And then maybe the number of affordable housing units is reduced, and maybe the number of bonus credits is reduced.
MR. WELLS: Well, rather than speculate, we did have testimony by MR. LAPATKA on it and the testimony was, you can go back through it again, was that it would be possible to build this in the front yard, but we don't consider it to be at all desirable. You know, MR. LYDON has testified to that from a planning point of view, but just like the retaining walls, it would be possible to even leave the decrepit, old retaining walls in place, again, we don't think that's appropriate. That was the testimony you heard at the prior hearings.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Okay. I'm just postulating.
That's it. Thank you.
THE WITNESS: You're welcome.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: First, I wanted to go back to the comment that you made initially. You stated that the design of the building incorporated architectural elements that complied with the ordinance and I guess were found elsewhere downtown. And I just wanted to ask you to explain that to me or to elaborate on that comment.
THE WITNESS: Well, I've been here for all the hearings, and MR. WELLS, not this MR. WELLS, the second MR. WELLS testified to those in great detail.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: But it was your testimony, and so I'm asking you now to elaborate on that.
THE WITNESS: I'm using his testimony as a foundation. I'm not sure I'm qualified to give architectural testimony. I'm not an architect, I'm not testifying as one.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: No, I know, but you said it, so I just wanted you to qualify the statement.
THE WITNESS: That was based on listening to MR. WELLS' testimony earlier.
MR. WELLS: And I would refer you to exhibit A 16, which was the architect's exhibit.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: I'm just saying, he said it and I just wanted him to qualify his statement, that's all, but if you can't, you can't.
MR. WELLS: No, no, it's totally appropriate for one expert to indicate that from a planning point of view he agrees with the conclusions reached by another expert.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Well, I understand that, I just wanted to ask him to elaborate on his testimony. That's all. On your image G, above the fence of the wall, the retaining wall, if the retaining wall's about 4.8 feet, there's some white kind of gravel stuff there beyond the trees.
THE WITNESS: Yes, ma'am.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Is that correct?
THE WITNESS: I'm not sure it's white, but it shows as lighter in this image, yes.
I believe that's the stone supporting the railroad tracks and ties.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: So just above that, that line just above the white, the lighter shading, is that the elevation of the train track?
THE WITNESS: I believe it is, mayor.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: What is the height of that? What is the elevation of the train tracks there?
THE WITNESS: Based on the wall height of being 4.8 feet, I'm thinking that's at least another 10 feet higher.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Okay.
THE WITNESS: We did not explicitly measure that distance from top of the wall to the track; however, we did measure the heights of the walls that are presented in this exhibit. So that is a I don't want to say I'm speculating, but that's an estimate of how high that is above the retaining wall.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Okay. Going back to the amenity area, how high is the retaining wall being proposed on the amenity area again?
THE WITNESS: The proposed wall or the existing wall?
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Both.
THE WITNESS: The proposed wall is 8.3 feet in height. The existing wall is about 8.5 feet in height, and it has a chain link fence on top of it, and that is probably best seen in photo E.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: I'm sorry, photo?
THE WITNESS: E. I'm sorry. Photo E.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Right, that's the end of the area.
THE WITNESS: And F as well, which is about 8.2 feet in height. That area is where the amenity section is going to be.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: And then there's like a step up on the amenity area, correct?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: What's the elevation of the amenity area on the step up?
MR. WELLS: We can re call MR. LAPATKA, if we need to. Since MR. LYDON is working his way through MR. LAPATKA's drawings right now to answer it, it may be easier.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: At that elevation of that 8 1/2 foot high wall, I'm curious, is the elevation above the step up or is it just the elevation?
THE WITNESS: I think it might be better if I defer to MR. LAPATKA to answer that question.
MR. WELLS: He's sworn.
MR. LAPATKA, do you want to just answer that.
MR. MARTIN: Good evening, MR. LAPATKA. You were previously sworn.
MR. LAPATKA: Yes.
A L E X A N D E R J. L A P A T K A, P.E.,
Having been previously sworn, continues to testify as follows:
MR. LAPATKA: The amenity area is tiered in elevation.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Yes.
MR. LAPATKA: So the upper level is about 5 feet higher than the lower level. The upper tier of the amenity area is about 5 feet higher than the elevation of the lower amenity area.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Right. So the question then is: The wall is being measured at 8 1/2 feet, so that 8 1/2 feet is not above the 5 foot elevation, it's 8 1/2 feet total from the land level. Is that correct?
MR. LAPATKA: Steve Lydon's testimony?
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Somebody should testify.
MR. LAPATKA: I think the 8 1/2 feet was the existing wall in that area.
MR. LYDON: Correct.
MR. LAPATKA: Not proposed, that's what exists there today.
MR. MARTIN: Exhibit G, not E?
MR. LYDON: E and F.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Okay. So if somebody is at the 5 foot height on the amenity area, then the wall is 3 feet high from there, is that accurate? I just want to make sure I understand how the wall appears.
MR. LAPATKA: The lower portion of the amenity area is slightly above the park of the pavement area of the elevation, then there are steps that go up to the tiered section of the amenity area, that's about 5 feet higher. Behind the amenity area is another wall that steps up to the grade there.
MR. WELLS: And how high is that wall of the amenity area?
MAYOR KNUDSEN: How high is that wall?
MR. LAPATKA: There actually is two tiered walls, and it's about 5 feet and 4 1/2 feet. Almost 5 feet, and then about 4 1/2 feet.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Okay. So if somebody is at the 5 foot level and they're standing on that 5 foot elevation of that platform in the amenity area, then the wall is only 4 feet above them. So they're say 6 feet tall, and they're standing 2 feet above the wall. Is that accurate then? So they're actually higher than the wall?
MR. LAPATKA: They're lower than the wall behind them.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: I'm getting confused.
MR. LAPATKA: I think we're getting confused between the existing wall and the proposed wall.
MR. WELLS: I think she's asking only about the proposed wall.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: I'm only asking about the proposed wall. So the proposed wall from the ground level is how high? From the ground level, how high is the wall?
MR. LAPATKA: From the top tier, there's a 5 foot wall right behind the person that would be standing on the top tier, then it steps back approximately 5 feet, and there's another 5 foot wall, not exactly 5 feet, a little less.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Okay. I'm not sure that that's
MS. McWILLIAMS: So it's only 15 feet?
CHAIRMAN JOEL: I think he's saying it's a level, you go up another 5 feet, and there's another 5 foot wall, so if you add the two, it's approximately 9 feet.
MR. LAPATKA: Approximately 9 1/2 feet.
MS. McWILLIAMS: And then another little tiered planting area that you picture, and then another 5 feet up?
MR. LAPATKA: Correct.
MS. McWILLIAMS: So it's really 15 feet
MR. LAPATKA: From the parking lot.
MS. McWILLIAMS: From the parking lot.
MR. LAPATKA: Yes.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: That was my question, how high is the wall from the parking lot, what's the total height of the wall?
MR. LAPATKA: The three walls would add up to about 15 feet, roughly.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Thank you, Melanie. That's it for me.
MR. WELLS: Thank you, MR. LAPATKA, let MR. LYDON keep going.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Melanie, do you have any questions?
MS. McWILLIAMS: These pictured walls I don't know if this would be a question for you or for Chris, but these walls that we've had entered here, are these walls in compliance with what our current ordinance is?
MR. RUTISHAUSER: Probably not because they're not tiered, but they are holding up the railroad tracks. And the ones at the public works yard support the salt shed and the structure over the garage.
MS. McWILLIAMS: Have we I don't know where to start.
The amenity area, the wall was out of compliance, I understand that's what the variance is for, but for height as well, I guess? And stormwater drainage and stuff like that, have we addressed that yet? Is this the correct person to ask?
MR. WELLS: No, MR. LAPATKA testified about stormwater drainage.
MS. McWILLIAMS: Right, I have that in my notes, but I'm wondering if that's something that
MR. WELLS: If you want to ask him about stormwater drainage again, although it's already been covered, we can ask MR. LAPATKA.
MS. McWILLIAMS: I just wanted to cover one last time where it drains to.
MR. WELLS: MR. LAPATKA, can you come back a second and redress stormwater drainage in that area.
MS. McWILLIAMS: I didn't find it, that's why I just wanted to double check.
MR. LAPATKA: The amenity area would be sloped towards Chestnut Street, so that the water would drain over land into the parking lot, and the parking lot is pitched away from the building towards the curb, so there's catch basins along the curbs that would catch that water.
MS. McWILLIAMS: Okay.
MR. WELLS: Better stay for a second, just in case.
MS. McWILLIAMS: For now I think I'm okay with that.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Okay.
You mentioned that the shape of a property makes it appropriate for a variance.
MR. LYDON: Yes, sir.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Wouldn't that be apropos like if the whole property is affected, not this small section? I mean, most of it is pretty much flat, correct?
MR. LYDON: Well, I think that's one of the reasons why the board can grant the variance, it's such a small portion, and it's such a small size, most of the development complies. There was just one little, I'll call it isolated area of the site that doesn't comply. I think it could be just the opposite, Mr. Chairman, if we needed, if the whole site was steep sloped and it didn't accomplish some of the things that your ordinance speaks about and your master plan speaks about, it may in fact be harder for the board to grant the variance. Here, to use MR. WELLS term, a de minimis portion of the site. So I think the fact that other parts of the slope were probably removed already, both on this site and other sites. I think the board can take cognizance of the fact that this is an orphan portion of the slope and we're only disturbing a small section of it.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: I'm just having trouble, it's not occurring in the whole site, usually sometimes someone is saying it's an irregular site and I can't comply with the bulk, but you can comply with the bulk.
MR. LYDON: But we are. We absolutely right.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: I know.
MR. LYDON: I think if you look at it as a lot width versus a lot depth perspective, as you're aware, most lots are much deeper than they are wide, here we have the opposite. This lot has 362 feet of frontage, but yet at its deeper it's only 186 feet deep, so that does present some real world difficulties in getting a double loaded building which is most efficient and parking around it with a lot of only 100 and most of the lot's 146 feet deep. So the narrowness, which is one of the ideas and concepts cited in the (c)(1) portion, (c)(1)(1) section, where it talks about narrowness and shallowness of the lot. This is a shallow lot. So I think there is a (c)(1) basis for the granting of a variance, yes.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Yes, I didn't hear that before, you were kind of focusing on the tail.
MR. LYDON: You're right.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Anymore questions from anybody?
MR. RUTISHAUSER: Yes, just one quick question. Regarding the affordable housing units, who does the developer, if you know, plan to administer these?
MR. LYDON: We want to get through this part before we start addressing that. We're talking about providing the number this is site plan approval. We're talking about providing them. How the mechanism is employed to achieve that, there will be plenty of time to figure that out. There are only, to answer it more specifically, there are only a few administrative agents approved by DCA for this kind of work. And a lot of them are from South Jersey and don't come up here too often. There's probably only a handful.
MR. WELLS: We'll work with the village.
MR. RUTISHAUSER: The premise of my question is: What kind of cost would this be to the village? And that's something perhaps the board wishes to consider in its deliberations, whether the administration of these is going to be a village task and responsibility and obligation or whether the developer would take that on of their own will.
MR. LYDON: Actually, there's a number of ways of structuring it, but the village has a development fee ordinance which has fairly good amount of money in it, as I understand; 20 percent of those monies can be used for administration of the affordable housing program. So the short version is, it's not going to cost the village a dime. It could be and it's up to the village, of course, the affordable housing trust fund monies could be used to maintain and implement the affordable not maintain, implement the affordable housing proposed as part of this development.
MR. RUTISHAUSER: We'll run out of money eventually.
MR. LYDON: Never.
MR. RUTISHAUSER: In that account, yes.
Nothing further. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Chris, do you have any questions?
MR. MARTIN: Just not dealing with Peter Wells, but the height of this particular structure is consistent with the heights in the neighborhood overall?
MR. LYDON: The heights in the neighborhood do vary somewhat, MR. MARTIN. The body shop building to the north of us is one story, the professional office building to the south of us is three stories.
MR. MARTIN: That's the medical.
MR. LYDON: Yes, that's the medical office, so we're sort of in between those two. What I can say is we're not seeking a variance for it. I have not done an architectural study or a building height study in the area, but I would say they vary. In addition to the medical office building, the lot is Y is a fairly tall building. So we would not be I don't want to say we would not be the tallest, I will say we will conform with the ordinance, that's the best I can offer you.
MR. MARTIN: The landscape plan, you reviewed that?
MR. LYDON: I have, but not for sometime, and MR. LAPATKA prepared it, I believe.
MR. MARTIN: Right. That's consistent, from a planning perspective, in terms of integration to the neighborhood from your perspective or not?
MR. LYDON: Actually, I think it's greatly in excess of the other buildings along the west side of Chestnut Street. The auto body shop does not have a lot of landscaping, the DPW sorry, mayor does not have a lot of landscaping on it. The medical office building has some but not a lot. The other building which is shown in A 20B at the top of the hill has nothing between the building and the street. The medical office building has very little landscaping. Except for potentially the Y property, I think this will be, I'll say no, including the Y.
MR. WELLS: Careful, MR. SCHEIBNER will be telling us again we're too nice for the neighborhood.
MR. MARTIN: I was going to bring that out.
MR. LYDON: This will be the nicest landscaped property along Chestnut Street.
MR. MARTIN: So immediately abutting the south is the medical building?
MR. LYDON: Yes, sir.
MR. MARTIN: Immediately abutting the north is?
MR. LYDON: The auto body shop.
MR. MARTIN: To the rear is the train?
MR. LYDON: Correct, and then the Bergen County housing development.
MR. MARTIN: In terms of overall integration of the neighborhood, do you have any idea how many units the Bergen County Housing has?
MR. LYDON: I seem to recall it's 99.
MR. MARTIN: The variance for the steep slope, based upon your analysis of MR. LAPATKA's plans, it's not all going to be removed, there will still be some steep slope, it will just be disturbed, correct?
MR. LYDON: Yes.
MR. MARTIN: And the height of the retaining walls variance of the height level to the wall? That might be a question for MR. LAPATKA.
MR. WELLS: It varies, because, remember, the table moves up and down across the property.
MR. MARTIN: What's the maximum deviation on that?
MR. WELLS: We'll let him tell you.
Just to remind you, we have a variance condition on the property right now, so, for the most part, overall we're actually slightly less high, but he can answer it maybe he can answer it.
MR. LAPATKA: Our highest retaining wall is 7.5 feet.
MR. MARTIN: Which is a decrease to some of the ones
MR. LAPATKA: Yes. The existing wall on the property is as high as 8.9 feet.
MR. MARTIN: And I think that's amplified on MR. LYDON's A 25, in fact, so thank you both. Thanks. Again, only two rather robust substantial variances I mean, two variances are in issue, that's how you see it, correct?
MR. WELLS: That's right.
MR. MARTIN: Thank you, MR. LYDON.
MR. LYDON: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Any further questions?
Anyone from the public?
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Actually I do have additional questions. So you talked about the disturbance of the steep slope. You're not disturbing all of it. Is that right?
MR. LYDON: Correct.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: So how is that going to be either graded and/or retained so that it doesn't erode?
MR. LYDON: That seems like it's another good question for MR. LAPATKA.
MR. WELLS: It is an engineering question.
MR. LAPATKA: At present, that steep slope area, in my opinion, has already been disturbed. If you just walk it and you look at the ground surface, you can see it's not a natural ground surface, there is some dirt, there's gravel, and some debris. And there is a little bit of erosion that's taken place right there, that's taking place right now. The only reason there's not a lot of erosion there is because there's not a lot of water that flows on it, there's not a lot of drainage. We're basically replacing the steep slope, a little bit might remain around the edges or wherever, with the retaining walls. So we're eliminating all of the bad things that the ordinance is concerned about for having steep slopes.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: So a wall is going to retain the remainder of the steep slope remnant, yes?
MR. LAPATKA: Yes.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Okay. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Anyone from the public want to ask a question?
MR. WELLS: They're all ours.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Seeing there's no one, all right, are you going to have anymore witnesses?
MR. WELLS: I'm not.
Obviously, MR. LYDON and MR. TROUTMAN have testified this evening. MR. LAPATKA also has testified a little bit this evening. Mr. Peter Wells is here and also Mr. Bolger, Mr. J.T. Bolger, is here. And I simply was going to say, before I sum up, if anybody has any questions for any of them. Mr. J.T. Bolger is not an expert, we're not going to qualify him as an expert, but he is the developer and he would be the person, although we didn't have a lot of them in this particular application, if you had an operational question, he's the one who's best qualified to answer those kinds of questions, but I do not intend to call him as a witness. So I'm saying to the board that all of my witnesses are here this evening, including Mr. Bolger. We would be happy to answer any questions you might have.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Which one is Mr. Bolger?
MR. WELLS: This one right here.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Got it. Okay.
MR. MARTIN: MR. WELLS, I know MR. JAHR said that he was going to close out his review of this matter by just responding to the February 9th report by your traffic engineer.
MR. LYDON, I think he was pretty illuminating, but there's an empty chair next to our Village Engineer. I anticipate that we will have a planner by the next meeting. I don't know if the board wants the planner to just review MR. LYDON's analysis, what you did tonight, and then that would close out the engineering, that would close out the planning. I would imagine the opportunity to speak with the developer is a very beneficial one. I think the board would appreciates that. Obviously, we had to call up a number of witnesses because they were helpful. So my thought is maybe shut it down, if you will.
MR. WELLS: Yes, I would be honest with you and tell you in view of the amount of time that's passed, that we would be disinclined to, as you put it, shut it down at this point, unless it was would be for a very short period of time. Quite frankly, as I've indicated on the record, I'm not at all sympathetic with the fact that the board and MR. JAHR are not prepared on the traffic issue this evening, because, quite frankly, that's completely your fault. You had everything for a very long time, and so if it takes more time, you know, that's on you. So, if we can do this for a short period of time, that's fine. I know, because of the board's schedule, that you tend to jump things for several months, and that would not be acceptable under this circumstance. At this point our hearing, our testimony is complete, and the extension is good through tonight, so I think we need to be done, if not tonight, shortly.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: The usual format, then we would have our own experts testify and then you're able to ask questions too. That's usually what we would have
MR. WELLS: Well, to be honest with you, if we don't give you the extension, you have to vote tonight, that's the rule. And, quite frankly, in view of the amount of time that's passed and the record you have before you, I could very comfortable arguing in front of a court that we have gone more than the distance in terms of presenting a full evidentiary case to this board and that anything beyond this is just delay. That said, I'm not saying that, if we can wrap this up, you know, if we can get this done in the next couple of weeks or something, get let's get it done. Obviously, we have gone to a protracted litigation in this case, which has all been dismissed by the courts at this point. There has been an extended period of time, since last June. It's now coming up on March. We need it done.
MR. MARTIN: MR. WELLS, I appreciate where you're coming from. I happen to disagree with you in terms of the, you know, the little trick of February 9th versus the 21st, it's two days late, I get it, it's not a perfect world, and I think that's part of your reasoning of, hey, we can do it in a short order may be acceptable to you, so it's not like a considerable amount of time.
MR. WELLS: Well, you need to talk specifics, that's what I'm saying. If we can get this wrapped up here, you know, in the foreseeable future, I think we can work with that, but if it's going to be an extended period of time, no, we can't.
MR. MARTIN: Plus we also have some board members who have sat on every hearing until this one, so they may be interested in listening to tonight's tape too.
So, long and short of it is, the Chair
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Yeah, I mean, usually the format, you know, I'm assuming the rest of the board wants to hear from our experts and we probably will have a planner in soon, and then get their input, and then that closes that out, and then you can sum up and then go from there, you know, the usual format that we've always had on applications. I understand the frustration with timing, things happen, and, you know, we have a bunch of applications. I mean, I'm looking at our calendar Michael, when's our next open. I mean, I'm looking at May 2nd is the next open, we have KS Broad on April 18th. Dates on April 4th. And we're booked on March 7th, March 21st.
MR. CAFARELLI: It's May 2nd.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: May 2nd.
MR. WELLS: No, we're not going to give you an extension to May 2nd. I think that's unreasonable. I've said to this board on the record many, many times that this applicant would be willing to compensate the board for special meetings. I think this has been dragged on for a very, very long time. We need to bring this to an end. So if that means you need to adjust your schedule, I think you need to adjust your schedule.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Could I ask another question?
MR. WELLS: Our last hearing on this matter was in December 20th, we're now here on February 21st. And I want the record to reflect that much of the time that we spent this evening was because board members could not recollect the testimony that was given several months ago. That's one of the problems with conducting the matter in the manner you have.
MS. McWILLIAMS: Much of the time this evening was spent on jogging of memories of board members?
MR. WELLS: Yes. "Much" might be too strong, a substantial.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Some of the time on April 4th, we have an April 4th date. Do you want to split time on that?
MR. MARTIN: It's a little over 30 days.
MR. WELLS: Okay. April 4th.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: So I just have one other question. This is something that happens to be kind of
MR. WELLS: I don't intend to bring anymore witnesses at that point, they've all been here, you've had your opportunity.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: So how do we resolve the issues of fair share as to who owes what to whom and some of the things that may need to be modified in the village, for instance, possibly crosswalks? I mean, how does that work?
MR. WELLS: Let me be a little informal and say, do your job. You have an expert, meet with him, talk with him, let him talk with you about it. If you have something you want to request, request it.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: No, I'm not asking that, I'm asking how do we resolve that jointly, okay, to an agreement that you are going to say, okay, we'll pay our fair share, and we say, okay, that's a reasonable amount or we say, you know, you're full of baloney? So how does that get resolved? I want to understand that, because that frankly may be a sticking point
MR. WELLS: Well, there are two elements to this.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: as to how this thing gets resolved.
MR. WELLS: Two points relative to that, and I think the record thoroughly reflects the fact that, quite frankly, there is no evidentiary basis for any fair share, it is de minimis. The impact that we are having on these off site areas does not give you that opportunity. That said, the way you do it, the other point is, typically what happens, you know, I've been doing this for a long time, is your experts communicate to us or our experts, hey, I think there should be a traffic light somewhere quite frankly, there's no place a traffic light should be and then there's some discussion back and forth. That's how it happens.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: And then, as part of our process of decision making, and we may say, okay, what you're saying we're not going to give you anything and we say, well I'm making it up and we're that far apart and that could potentially be an issue as to how this ultimately plays out, and, in other words, us agreeing to say, yeah, we'll move forward with this.
MR. MARTIN: Before the 4th, MR. JAHR is going to put something together and he can provide it to the board and speak with the experts for the applicant, and we'll see if there's a factual reason to show the legal standards that would be the applicable pro rata share. That's how it is.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Yeah. And I also want to understand, you keep talking about just traffic, and when I read those opinions, it wasn't just traffic, it was a whole bunch of other things that were in those opinions, and traffic could mean a whole bunch of different stuff.
MR. WELLS: I think you have to ask MR. MARTIN to help you to address all that.
MR. MARTIN: We'll address all that, so I agree with you, Jeff, I really do.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: I actually have a different question totally off the sidewalk path here. When we first started down this road, you made mention that the affordable units would all be completed with the same finishes, but also mentioned the off site property, the other property that could be converted to disabled housing. And I feel like tonight that seemed to have vanished, to have gone nowhere, and I'm a little curious.
MR. WELLS: There is a little history there.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Okay. Because you represented that the very first night, and it's in my notes.
MR. WELLS: We actually it was included in our materials and we changed the testimony the very first night and I can explain to you why. Mr. Brancheau took the position, which turned out to be correct, as much as you can tell anything is correct under the Mount Laurel law in the State of New Jersey, which is confused, there is a two for one credit for special needs housing. As it turns out, that credit is available only to the Village of Ridgewood, not to the developer.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Right.
MR. WELLS: We learned that literally in the last day. And up until that point, we thought we would be building four units, if you will, as opposed to seven. And when we learned that the credit was not available to us, we amended it and told you then that night that we would build seven units instead of four. There's no change in the testimony with respect to the finishes and so forth, that didn't change, the only thing that changed is that we said we would do seven instead of four.
There have been continuing discussions, you know, and I don't know even know with who at this point in time, the village is kind of a moving target, as you know, professionals and political people changing and so forth, but there has been a long term willingness, expressed by this particular applicant, to do special needs housing and to do group homes and so forth, because the Bolger family has a deep commitment to that type of thing. And we continue to have that desire, if there's some way to do it, but we can't do it alone. If the village is so inclined and wants to do special needs housing, we can do that off site, we're going to meet our obligation fully, but as to exactly how it's going to be met, that's a little bit up to the village. Right now at least, for purposes of site plan, we will tell you we will meet our obligations under the law, which is seven units. MR. LYDON gave you specifics, same as MR. WELLS did, that would be two 3 bedrooms, and four 2 bedrooms and one 1 bedroom, same finishes.
MR. MARTIN: 14 credits, 14 COAH credits?
MR. WELLS: Right, and MR. LYDON explained that to the board. That's, again, one of those details that sometimes it's a little hard to pin down in New Jersey, because the state is in some confusion. As you know as mayor, this matter is also under litigation at this point, even with respect to the village's obligation for affordable housing.
MR. MARTIN: And we're an at risk communities.
MR. WELLS: And we've entered into that litigation, the litigation brought by the citizens group. We are no longer, this particular applicant is no longer a part of that, because that's been fully dismissed as to us, but as to the Mount Laurel litigation, that is ongoing and we are a litigant in that litigation. Our position in that obviously being, if the village doesn't do what it's supposed to do through this process, which has been spectacularly long and difficult, then we're going to ask the court to do it through the Mt. Laurel process.
MR. MARTIN: Okay. April 4th, carried for that date to the board, and no further notice required of the applicant, correct?
MR. WELLS: Absolutely, but I want to state on the record right now we won't give any further extensions after that night. We got to be done then.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Are you officially resting your case?
MR. WELLS: No, no, I'm going to want to sum up.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: No, no, I know. Are you going to have testimony from anybody else?
MR. WELLS: No, only to the extent that I need it to respond to something.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Okay.
MR. WELLS: But we're rested other than that.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Okay.
MR. WELLS: After I would take, would utilize my normal right to give a final summation after everything is completed.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Okay.
MR. MARTIN: MR. JAHR, you had a comment?
MR. JAHR: May I ask one question. In order to close out my January 16th report, it appears as if the traffic study does do that for the entire first half of my request, but would you be kind enough to ask MR. LAPATKA just to send me a brief response to the second half of my memo, it's just minor things like sight triangles we want on our plan for the long term safety of our project.
MR. WELLS: Have you had the opportunity to review his testimony, because I think you're going to find that it has all been testified to.
MR. JAHR: I did listen to the entire disk and I did not hear that he would include the sight triangles on the plan. It's just something it would be much faster if he just sent me a quick note.
MR. MARTIN: Can they speak?
MR. WELLS: Sure, we'll make that happen. You know, I apologize for being strident here, but that's my job, we need to move this process to a conclusion.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Yes, we don't take offense to you doing your job, we understand. All right.
(Whereupon, this matter will be continuing at a future date. Time noted: 10:20 p.m.)
Discussion of AH2, B3R and CR Zones – Mayor Knudsen said the Planning Board may want to consider the same incentive for 'for sale' units to increase the amount so the two types of units match. She said if this did not happen it might not be an incentive for developers. Mayor Knudsen said if there is no difference and the title is open then the Village can decide to refer to it as housing for sale or rental and promote a choice for developers. Mr. Rutishauser was asked if the change would need State approval. He said he would consult with a COAH representative.
Approval of Minutes – The minutes from January 19, 2016 were adopted as written.
Other Business – Board members discussed the status of the Planner interviews. It was reported that the Board is in the process of interviewing candidates and would make a recommendation to the Council and have someone by the next Planning Board meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:40 p.m.
Approved: July 17, 2018
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