The following minutes are a summary of the Planning Board meeting of February 7, 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 7:40 p.m. Following members were present: Mr. Joel, MAYOR KNUDSEN, Joel Torielli, Councilman Jeff Voigt, Isabella Altano, Melanie McWilliams, David Scheibner, and Debbie Patire. Also present were Christopher Martin, Esq., Board Attorney; Village Planner Blais Brancheau; Village Engineer Chris Rutishauser; and Board Secretary Michael Cafarelli.
Public Comments on Topics not Pending Before the Board – No one came forward
Correspondence received by the Board – Mr. Cafarelli reported none was received.
Ridgewood/Dayton, Preliminary and Final Major Site Plan, 100/152 South Broad Street, Blocks 3707/3905, Lots 5.01/1.01- Pubic Hearing continued from November 15, 2016 - Following is the transcript of this portion of the meeting, prepared by Laura A. Carucci, C.C.R., R.P.R.:
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Okay. All right. Our next item will be the Ridgewood/Dayton preliminary and final
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: I apologize, Chairman.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Yes.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: We got to talk about when we were at the Village Council the ordinance or is that after the fact?
CHAIRMAN JOEL: What, the referral?
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Yes.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Yes, that will be after.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Got it. Sorry. I apologize. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: All right. The next item will be the Ridgewood/Dayton Preliminary and Final Major Site Plan, 100/152 S. Broad Street, Blocks 3707/3905, Lots 5.01/1.01. Public hearing continued from November 15th.
Mr. WELLS is the attorney who will be presenting on this. This matter was previously heard, where we heard testimony from the engineer, Alexander Lapatka, and from the architect, Laurence Appel. They were questioned, and we're moving on to our next witness.
Mr. WELLS, will you please proceed.
MR. WELLS: Okay. It's always a pleasure to be back here. As you know and as your Chairman just announced, this is a continued hearing. We began in September. We had two hearings then. And then we were with you in November. And as your Chairman also pointed out to you or reminded you, we have had extensive testimony by the architect and the engineer. I will tell you that you can see we have a court reporter here this evening. We had a court reporter previously. So we do have transcripts, and those have been delivered to Michael. If anybody was not in attendance, because I know there was not full attendance at the last meeting and can read the transcript, we certainly encourage you to do that. I want to share with you just, you know, it's always a little bit tricky to come back into a matter when it's been off a little while. I'm going to give you a copy of our exhibit list that we prepared in one second.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: 1 through 8, I believe that you had?
MR. WELLS: It's actually one through A 12, then there's several for the town, and then we have a few more tonight. It will just make things a little more organized. Okay. That exhibit list will remind you, possibly, of 1 through 8, which we presented through the testimony of the architect, and then 9 through 12, which were Mr. Lapatka's at the last hearing. In any event, we have those exhibits and they can be available, if anybody would like to see them. This evening, there's several more exhibits we intend to introduce. We'll do that when the time comes.
Testimony: We have yet to hear the testimony of our planner, Art Bernard, and that's who I'm going to call next. He is, as he will, when we do his background, you will understand that not only is he a Professional Planner but he has a strong background as the former director of the Council on Affordable Housing. So, in addition to the fact that he will explain to you, to the extent necessary, the affordable housing component of this application, there really isn't much that we need to do as a matter of our record to do that, but I commend to you, if you have questions about COAH and the Mt. Laurel process, I'm not sure even he can answer because it's become kind of a mystery in our state, MR. BRANCHEAU is laughing, but this is an unusual opportunity, if you have a question that's even a little bit off the point, you can ask them of him, and he will obviously do our planning testimony, not only with respect to affordable housing but also with respect to the variance we've requested. Then we would call Mr. Disario, he is with Langan Engineering, he's a traffic engineer. You have previously received a copy of his full report, and he will be discussing traffic. And then finally, during the first couple hearings several operational questions came up, and you will recollect that whenever that happened, I would tell you that Mr. Leventhal (phonetic), who is the project manager, the principal of our client and is running this project, will be in a position to answer those questions. So we'll let him wrap up and answer any questions that the board may have. We did make a submission, and I won't spend anytime on it now, a little later if we need to, with respect to our legal or my legal opinion with respect to the traffic matters that are before you. And I saw MR. MARTIN's firm also prepared a memorandum on that subject. In essence, what we are suggesting to you very strongly, and I believe with good legal support, that the only real matter that this board has jurisdiction over is the point of egress and access to the site. That is clearly within your purview to consider. And the board actually does not, under case law, have a right to deny this application because of a feeling about congestion of traffic elsewhere in the village. That's a zoning matter, not a matter for site plan approval. And then finally the other issue that I raised in the memo is the question that came up at the last hearing with respect to could we be held responsible to make improvements elsewhere, not necessarily right in front of our site, and pay some pro rata share. And in reality, yes, we could, but there needs to be a showing that those improvements are both reasonable and necessary and necessitated and required by this project. And then and only then you try to assess, first the village would have to tell us what it thought it wanted to do in the way of improvement, and then we'd have to assess what the share would be of this project. And the reason I don't think it's an appropriate concern, although I'm going to discuss it anyway because you've raised it, is because, as Mr. Disario will tell you, we believe the impact that it would have on any of those improvements is very small, de minimis in fact; therefore, not really appropriate even to have had to bring it up, but we brought it up, and if we went down that road, the pro rata share, because of the effect that it would have on, say, an intersection, on a road that even this close to the project, would be so small as the pro rata share would be very, very small. So that will come out in testimony, but those are the legal aspects that we guided our experts with, and hopefully we can move through that. So unless there's questions
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Can we talk about that a little bit? Is that possible?
MR. WELLS: Sure.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: So, I read your document, your letter as well. So, here's my question, and I don't know how the law reads, and, Chris, you might be able to help with this as well, when you're looking at site plans, the concern I have is that the site plan is being looked at in isolation. And I don't know whether or not the case law you're citing is looking at site plans in isolation, as opposed to looking at various site plans in aggregate. So, my concern is your site plan and other site plans that are going to be developed potentially at around the same time, or, now, in aggregate, how that affects the downtown, not necessarily yours, but the aggregate effect of all of those site plans together. And I'm not sure of the case law, and I think maybe you can help me with this a little bit, whether the case law actually looks at site plans in isolation or does it and I don't know if there is any case law around.
MR. WELLS: I can answer your question.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Site plans in aggregate.
MR. WELLS: I'll answer, and MR. MARTIN can certainly chime in, because basically he cited the same case law we did and basically came to the same conclusions. It was exactly the dialogue that I was having with you and MR. BRANCHEAU that prompted me to right a legal memo on it, and the cases absolutely deal with this kind of situation, and what they stand for is the proposition that when you consider a site plan, that is what you consider, a single site. So that concept that you're talking about of considering sites in the aggregate, that's not a site plan approval, that's more like a zoning issue, and in this case would go more to whether the Planning Board as part of its master plan process or its road process, whatever it is, a larger board would make bigger decisions in terms of the master plan and then ultimately zoning. So, for example, even in the context of this matter,the time to bring up those considerations, and they were brought up extensively, would be when the decision was made to zone this property and one, quite frankly, when they were discussed at that time, it was determined through a lot of expert testimony that this particular zoning created less traffic than other zoning that was even permitted then. But that's off the point and all of that whole argument is not appropriate at this juncture. So that even if you were to determine that there were terrible problems all over the village with parking, and even though our witness will testify, and I believe that Mr. Jahr will confirm that we are not providing much traffic to add to that problem, but if you decide that it was, the case law says that's not the basis for you to deny, that's not appropriate, you consider this single site.
If I mischaracterized it, MR. MARTIN, you can certainly correct me.
MR. MARTIN: No.
The hardest part of the job for me over 26 years in terms of litigating is doing the other guy's case for him. In terms of land use, it's the same thing. So Mr. WELLS wrote a very thoughtful piece, and I submitted my position on it as well. Most of the cases, we're all in agreement on. We diverge a little bit as to the interpretation. One of the interpretations was based significantly on one of the ordinances of the Village of Ridgewood. Quite frankly, I was a little concerned, because ordinances in any community somewhat are ambiguous. In this instance, I have to credit our planner, an excellent job in terms of off site improvements and what's required. It really lays it out crystal clear.
So Mr. WELLS may have a position that you cannot deny an application due to off tract activities, but certainly if the board is inclined to approve the application, there are numerous conditions that can be addressed based on the evidence presented as to whether the developer is required to do. So part of Mr. WELLS' job now is to put in evidence that he believes is appropriate, and there's also been traffic studies and other planning documents by our planner that show different comments, and that's for the board to decide upon. So the law, pretty much we agree upon. What the requirements of the developer to go forward with the site plan may not be the death knell denial, but if there are conditions in the hypothetical site plan that aren't followed, the site can't go forward permanent. So there are issues that need to be sifted out.
MR. WELLS: Let me go back on that, because I think we had agreement with respect to site plan and inability to deny. I disagree with MR. MARTIN, and his written memorandum actually seems to agree more with me, so I disagree with what he just said. In reality, it is absolutely correct, if a community such as the village has an ordinance that allows you to require off site improvements, and you do have that, although it is well drafted, it doesn't have certain provisions, for example, one that would allow setting up of an escrow fund, the TID, and those kinds of things, they're not in there, but if you could get around that problem, what the case law also says, though, and that's the part that I think MR. MARTIN didn't fully explain, is, you can require change or a pro rata share on improvements off the site. In this case, let's say hypothetically somebody wanted to put a light at the corner of Broad Street and E. Ridgewood Avenue. You know, I've heard that discussed over the years before and I've heard many people say it doesn't make sense, but assuming for the moment that this board, the village council, your expert said we think there should be a light there, in order to ask this particular applicant for a pro rata share, then you have to establish that there's a connection between putting that light there, a reasonable necessity tied into the exact thing that we did that would require us to prove a pro rata share. That's the legal requirement.
MR. MARTIN: Let me stop you there. I agree with the pro rata share and I agree with the nexus, it just comes down to our evidence, I believe.
MR. WELLS: So we're good on that so far.
Now, there's one last piece, and that's what I'm trying to advance, and that is, after you do all that, if that happens, the way you establish pro rata share is basically number of cars. So you say, okay, how many cars will this project put into the area that's now being improved? So if the improvement, I gave you a hypothetical in my letter, it costs $300,000.00 to do the improvement, whatever it is, road widening, light, whatever, now you assess how much of it is our responsibility, and we'll give you testimony, Mr. Jahr will give counter testimony, if he has it, that it's very small, really small. So then the issue becomes, okay, let's say hypothetically, and I gave you that hypothetical that our effect on this was three percent, and I don't even think it's that high, but if it was and it's a $10,000.00 pro rata share, then it becomes the issue, in order to ask us to do that, the village has to say we're making that improvement, we're going to spend the $300,000.00, and, by the way, we want your $10,000.00. And if you do that, we're onboard. And to be honest with you, I have to speak for my client, he's not there, if that happens, you want us to spend $300,000.00 and it turns out we are 3 percent responsibility, is $10,000.00 for us, we'll write the check. But there's a lot of steps that have to happen in there: You have to want to do it, you have to decide to do it. We'll get past the fact that there is nothing in the ordinance that allows us to put the $10,000.00 in there now and see if it happens later on. But, you know, so that's my reading of the law. So it's: Can't deny, pro rata share, if there's a connection, a nexus, if you will, and then finally how much is our pro rata share, and that ties into how much traffic do we generate on our site versus all the traffic that goes through that particular location.
MR. MARTIN: And whether it's more substantial or de minimis, I think that's subject to the evidence that is presented.
MR. WELLS: Well, sure. And when I'm arguing legally, I attach to that the testimony of Mr. Disario, who is going to testify live right now, where he is going to basically tell you that we generate, you know, a very, very small amount of cars that affect those intersections.
MS. McWILLIAMS: Does our ordinance Section D(1), does that allow us to consider what is projected to be built there, in addition to anything you're presenting to us today? I wonder if that's what Jeff is asking? It allows for us to consider projected projects as well, the projected traffic? I just want to make sure I'm understanding it correctly.
MR. WELLS: Whether or not it does, and I'm not sure if it does, we gave it to you, in other words, we gave you the built conditions. In other words, Mr. Disario has analyzed it every which way. The only way that we basically said didn't make any sense, Mr. Jahr suggested was, he wanted us to consider, based on the parking garage that was proposed and then ultimately turned down, and we said that doesn't make any sense. In other words, it's one thing to talk about building future conditions based on what we think may happen, but it's another thing to, you know so that was the only one that we didn't throw into the mix, if you will. Mr. Disario will explain it to you.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: You're just talking about traffic, but, I mean, there are other issues too potentially that probably need to be thought out, like public safety, like parking, are two other issues
MR. WELLS: Parking on the site?
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Parking downtown in general, and what your building generates in excess of the parking capacity you have.
MR. WELLS: Okay. I can address that too. Mr. Disario will give you testimony, but there you have some constraints, if you will, as well, because what your ordinance does is adopts the state requirements, what we call "RSIS," and essentially says that there's a calculation about how much parking would be required for this kind of a building. It actually has a lot of flexibility and says you can actually average down and all the rest of it. We didn't do that. We didn't average down. We didn't use any exceptional circumstances. And all our legal requirement is to conform to that, because basically what they say is we're imposing that standard, we're saying that's the right standard, and in a sense taking away the discretion of the board to say, oh, we think you should provide more parking than that. If we meet that requirement, we have no variance, we're conforming, it's really, you know, if your opinion is RSIS is wrong, take it up with the state legislature, not with us, would be my position.
MS. PATIRE: I have a question on that. Chris, maybe you can answer. Does that RSIS, is it for residents, people who live there, what about guests?
MR. WELLS: What about guests?
MS. PATIRE: So is that calculated, so you're going to have 50 guests one night?
MR. WELLS: It's all in there.
MR. BRANCHEAU: It is factored into there.
MS. PATIRE: It is factored in there?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Yes.
MS. PATIRE: Okay. Thank you.
MR. WELLS: Any other questions of me or should I call MR. BERNARD?
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Yes, you can proceed.
MR. WELLS: So we're going to switch, we're done doing traffic here a little bit, but we're going to switch back to planning and I'm going to call MR. BERNARD at this point.
MR. BERNARD: I wonder with the board, if it's okay if I sit there?
MR. MARTIN: MR. BERNARD, will you raise right hand.
Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
MR. BERNARD: I do.
A R T B E R N A R D, 77 North Union Street, Lambertville, New Jersey, having been duly sworn, testifies as follows:
MR. MARTIN: Just for the record your full name and your title and your business address.
MR. BERNARD: My name is Art Bernard. I'm the managing member of my own firm, which is Art Bernard and Associates. My business address is 77 North Union Street, Lambertville, New Jersey.
DIRECT VOIR DIRECT EXAMINATION
BY MR. WELLS:
Q. MR. MARTIN got you started. If you would, MR. BERNARD, could you continue to describe for the board your basic credentials to testify before the board.
A. Sure. I have a master's in city regional planning from Rutgers University. I'm a licensed Professional Planner with over 40 years of experience in land use planning and affordable housing.
For eight and a half of those years, I served on the Council On Affordable Housing, first as its deputy director, then as its executive director. And in both those capacities, I developed and supervised COAH's entire work program and worked directly with the board on all of its rule making. I wrote the first and second round rules that the Supreme Court has referred to in its recent Mt. Laurel decisions with regard to after the demise of COAH. Since leaving COAH in 1994, I've served as the consultant for some 25 municipalities in various capacities representing boards like yours and Planning Boards on subdivisions, site plan reviews, in preparing ordinance and master plan documents and redevelopment plans. In many of those towns, I served solely as their affordable housing consultant and wrote a number of housing elements that received approval from both COAH and the courts. I've represented over the last 20 years as a consultant private sector clients all over the state before local boards and in Superior Court. I've represented the Superior Court as a special master in Mt. Laurel matters in six cases.
Over the last 20 years, I've represented the New Jersey Builders Association as its affordable housing consultant. I've recently testified in Middlesex County Fair Share case for builder's remedy plaintiff who has received a builder's remedy. I'm scheduled to testify in a series of other Fair Share trials in the other counties, as they proceed.
Q. I've learned from practice not to offer him as an expert until MR. MARTIN gets his chance, but that's pretty thorough. Is there anything further you wanted to voir dire of this witness?
CROSS VOIR DIRE EXAMINATION
BY MR. MARTIN:
Q. MR. BERNARD, recently were you the Superior Court consultant for Judge Troncone down in Ocean County?
A. I was not a consultant for Judge Troncone, I was scheduled to testify in a case before it settled.
Q. And then the one in Middlesex, was that the one with Judge Wilson?
And right now I'm scheduled to testify at the one that Judge Jacobson is conducting down in Mercer County.
Q. Professional Planner?
Q. I heard your expertise in terms of affordable housing as a consultant.
Any other designations, besides Professional Planner?
A. That's it.
Q. And currently in good standing and in New Jersey, correct?
Q. Any other licensures in any other states?
A. No, most states don't have planning licensing requirements.
MR. MARTIN: Mr. WELLS, are you going to offer MR. BERNARD as a Professional Planner?
MR. WELLS: I am indeed.
MR. MARTIN: So allowed before this board.
MR. WELLS: Okay. Good.
BY MR. WELLS:
Q. MR. BERNARD, if you would, why don't you begin by telling the board what you've done in the way of preparation for your testimony here this evening.
A. Sure. Well, there's a number of documents that I reviewed, including MR. BRANCHEAU's 2014 land use amendment regarding the site. I also reviewed subsequent land use plan amendments, December 2015 land use and plan amendment, and the ordinances that went in place after that land use amendment were Ordinances 34 89 and 34 93, that established the AH 2 zone for this site. I've also reviewed your 2016 Housing Element, your Steep Slope Ordinance. I've reviewed the applicant's plans for the property, and MR. BRANCHEAU's September 6, 2016 review of that application. I've reviewed the Municipal Land Use Law, and I've been out to the site on several occasions.
Q. Well, you've certainly done everything we've asked you to do and more.
Might be the thing that you could do to start, especially because we talked about Mt. Laurel and we're going to take you through that in a little bit, could you explain to them what an "inclusionary development" is, because that is what we're proposing to do here.
A. Sure. An inclusionary development is a community that includes a mix of market housing and low and moderate-income housing, typically for rentals. The percentage of low and moderate-income housing mix is 15 percent of the total housing units within the community. Now, in terms of, I think it's important, perhaps not for the board, you've had some experience with this, but for members of the public to understand what low and moderate income housing is. It's housing that's affordable to households earning less than 80 percent of the median income for a given housing region. Typically, the state regulations require the low and moderate housing to be affordable to households earning anywhere from 30 to 80 percent of the median income. Now, median income changes a little bit, depending on what region you're in. Bergen County is in a region with Passaic and Hudson and Sussex counties. And the median income, that not only changes by region, but it also is a function of household size. So, I'm going to give you an example of a household size of two. The reason I've chosen a household size of two is because most of the households in New Jersey are smaller households. We live in a state where 56 percent or more now of all New Jersey's households are 1 and 2 person households, and that two thirds of New Jersey's households do not have any school aged children. But, for a two person household in Bergen County, a person can qualify for this housing and the housing is geared to be affordable to households that range anywhere from $20,000.00 per year to say 54, $55,000.00 per year. So what I'd like the public to understand is that when we're talking about low and moderate income households, we're not talking about people we don't know, we're talking about a large segment of the population, it's about 40 percent of all households in New Jersey. The households that qualify span a variety of professions, including but not limited to teachers and nurses and social workers and paralegals and firefighters. We're talking about young people starting out and older people on fixed incomes. They're people that work, but are often finding affordable housing a challenge because of the lack of multifamily housing that is built in the region and in the state's towns. In order to get an affordable unit, the low and moderate income households need to go through credit checks and criminal checks, just like any other tenant. So, really, there's no reason to think that these people wouldn't be an asset, not only to the community of garden homes it is proposing, but to Ridgewood as well.
Q.MR. BERNARD, I think you and I know the answer to this, but let's just make sure we put it in the record. Is this government subsidized housing, because people tend to ask that question?
The idea that the New Jersey Supreme Court established years ago is that the developer of a community would receive an increase in density or a density bonus of market units so that it could afford to offer the affordable units at affordable rents.
Q. Mr. Leventhal will explain it a little bit more, but there's already been testimony that the affordable units would be intermixed among the market units, there might be some slight differences in some of the finishes, but other than that, it would be basically very similar.
Can you tell us, is that appropriate, is that the way it should be done?
A. I don't know that there's one way that it should be done. I think a lot of people think that's a preferable way than isolating low and moderate income households into one section of the community. Clearly the way it's being proposed here is certainly the way that I think is preferable. I think, while we're talking about the low and moderate income housing and the low and moderate income households, I'd like to refer to MR. BRANCHEAU's September 2016 review. It does include a section (c) that relates to affordable housing. There are two paragraphs, starting at the bottom of page 4 and the top of page 5. They're short. Paragraph one asks for a deed restriction. Paragraph two asks the applicant to comply with the borough's affordable housing requirements, and he cites specific sections of your ordinance. This is all clearly appropriate, and we will comply.
Does the municipality have an obligation, obviously MR. BRANCHEAU is talking about what we talked about before, the basic affordable housing requirement and the final numbers of which have not been established for the village, but assuming in addition to building affordable housing at a certain number within the village, does it have any other additional obligations tied into this housing, once it is built by a developer such as this? A. Well, it starts even before the housing is built. The zoning, based on the Mt. Laurel decision, should eliminate any unnecessary cost generating standards, and that gets to the colloquy the board and Mr. WELLS had in terms of what kind of traffic improvements one could impose.
After that, the municipality is obligated to expedite the review of the application, like we're doing now. And then beyond that, there are state regulations that really cover what's expected of the board, and I would cite, maybe for MR. MARTIN's convenience, N.J.A.C. 5:93 10, which deals with the board's review. And, again, it talks about the need to expedite the review of the inclusionary development, but then it goes on to talk about the fact that inclusionary developments have gone through a very public process before receiving the zoning. And, therefore, the focus of the review, and, again, this is more for the public than for the board, is not whether the property is appropriately zoned, but, instead, municipalities are expected to again eliminate unnecessary requirements and cooperate in granting reasonable variances or reasonable relief from the ordinances that's necessary.
Q. I was going to say, moving from this sort of the big picture to this specific site, the board's heard a little bit about this before, but if you could, you said you reviewed the master plan documents and the housing element and so forth. Could you tell us about this particular property in terms of how it's zoned and what the village appears to be trying to accomplish by that zoning?
A. Well, this project has gone through a very public process. I mean, in looking through the trail, it looks like it started sometime in 2013. I gathered that from reading MR. BRANCHEAU's 2014 memo that led to a Land Use Plan Amendment in 2015; the creation of the AH 2 zone in April of 2016; and the inclusion of this site as part of your response to your affordable housing obligation in your 2016 Housing Element. And, as a result of that public process, the site has been placed in your AH 2 zone that permits multifamily housing at a density of 35 units per acre and requires that 15 percent of the housing be set aside for low and moderate income housing.
And the ordinance is very specific in terms of what the village was trying to accomplish. It was trying to address the needs of empty nesters, it was trying to address the needs of young couples, again, those smaller households that we've been talking about. And it was also, of course, trying to address the need for low and moderate income housing. It was also trying to promote mass transit in the downtown area and to support the commercial uses in the downtown area.
Q. I'm going to move a little bit away from Mt. Laurel and ask you, if you would, MR. BERNARD, there has been some testimony by the engineers in terms of the actual site and so forth, can you, for the planning testimony, review for the board what relief the applicant is requiring from the village's ordinance?
A. Well, the relief we may need is relief from what I'll call the Steep Slope Ordinance or disturbing a slope in excess of 20 percent.
Now, my opinion is we really don't need it, because my reading of the ordinance is that the purpose of the ordinance is to maintain the natural topography and the natural drainage conditions.
But I think everyone agrees that the slope in question, I think you saw it in Exhibit 12 that the applicant handed out last time, everyone agrees that this is a man made slope, it's not a natural slope, that this is a slope that was put in when the railroad was put in. So, in my opinion, I don't think we need the relief.
Q. I want to stop you here, because I happen to agree with your opinion, but MR. BRANCHEAU doesn't, and since he wrote the report and we called it off as a variance, can you tell us, if this is a variance, which it doesn't matter whether you and I don't agree for the moment, do you believe this variance would be justified?
A. Oh, yeah, I think the variance should be granted based on the (c)(2) criteria.
Q. Take us through that a little bit, because I would like to put that into the record in case anybody else interprets this as a necessary variance.
A. I will, but I wonder, see, when I was reviewing this, my first sense was that we didn't need the variance relief from the ordinance. And then my sense was that even if we do, that there are exceptions that are built into the ordinance that we would probably qualify for.
Q. That's true. Take us through all of that, please.
A. So, I mean, the first exception, which is section (b)(1), you get exception from the Steep Slope Ordinance for redevelopment within the limits of impervious surfaces that were in effect and the way I'm reading the ordinance is that were in effect at the time the ordinance was adopted, and that's what the applicant is doing, is redeveloping the property within the limits of the existing impervious surfaces. In fact, the applicant is reducing the impervious surfaces by 10,900 square feet. And then the second way I think that we can get an exception from the ordinance is (b)(3), which gives an exception when the new disturbance necessary provides an environmental benefit, and it used as an example the remediation of a contaminated site. Now, in this case the environmental benefit is stabilizing the slope. Right now that slope is not landscaped, it's kind of like an open sore, and then when it rains, the soil erodes and the stream gets the sedimentation from the erosion. What this proposal is going to do is it's going to stabilize that slope with landscaping and a relatively short retaining wall. So our proposal is going to do what your ordinance really wants done, it's going to stabilize the slope, there will be less erosion, there will be less sedimentation, it will improve the aesthetics of the area. So I think there's clearly an environmental benefit. So, if the board and MR. BRANCHEAU disagrees with me in terms of whether we need relief from the ordinance, and I get that, and if the board shares that opinion, I think the exception is clearly warranted. If your planner and you disagree with that, then we can go to the relief. And what I'd like to do for you now is to go through the (c)(2) criteria. (C)(2) variances are not the hardship variances. These are the variances that can be granted when the proposal advances purposes of the Municipal Land Use Law and the benefits of the proposal substantially outweigh any detriments associated with granting the relief. And in weighing the benefits, the Appellate Division in the case in South Plainfield, called Pullen v. South Plainfield, advised the boards that they should consider the benefits of the entire proposal and not just the benefits of the specific relief. And in this case, the benefits of the entire proposal include the production of affordable housing, which not only provides the housing but helps the borough meet its affordable housing obligation. The benefits also include housing for the empty nesters and the young adults, which are the two most dominant growing demographic groups in New Jersey and the groups that the ordinance was designed to assist. The benefits also include promoting the bus and rail transit in the area. It helps support the businesses in the commercial zone. The benefits also include replacing these vacant buildings and an unlandscaped parking lot with a beautiful new building. And, you know, this is exactly the type of development that the state plan tries to promote, high density residential development in orientation to a downtown area that can promote this mixed use concept that the state plan is trying to promote. So that, in my view, is another benefit. In terms of the benefits of granting the relief, the relief is beneficial because the applicant is stabilizing the slope with a retaining wall and landscaping, and actually satisfying the purpose of the ordinance by limiting erosion and minimizing sedimentation. So those are the benefits that I see. Now, remember, part of the criteria for the (c)(2) variance, it has to advance the purposes of the Municipal Land Use Law. And based on what I just told you, and the fact that based on what I just told you and what I will tell you, I would conclude that this proposal benefits about five purposes of the Municipal Land Use Law, including purpose A, which is related to the appropriate use of land; purpose E, which is related to encouraging appropriate population densities; and purpose G, which is to provide sufficient space in appropriate locations for diversity of housing.
MR. MARTIN: MR. BERNARD, what's the last one, A, E, and what?
THE WITNESS: G.
MR. WELLS: G.
THE WITNESS: (Continuing) Now I say that this is an appropriate use of land not only because it's adjacent to the downtown and adjacent to mass transit, but the use is a permitted use in the zone. In other words, the governing body has already decided that this is an appropriate use for the zone. Similarly, the governing body has already decided that the density is appropriate for the location. The location is great, given that the site is so close to the downtown and close to the train station. And, frankly, in my view, it's just good planning to provide high density housing adjacent to the downtown train station and bus service. Also, since this lovely building is going to take the place of these vacant buildings and the parking lot, I think that the proposal advances purpose I, which is to promote a desirable visual environment. And, again, since as I said before, it advances the goals of the state plan by promoting higher density residential development in a downtown area near public transportation, it advances purpose D of the Municipal Land Use Law that relates to consistency with the state plan. Now, that would be what I call the positive criteria for the (c)(2) variance, but there's another side to it. I have to address what are called the negative criteria. So the first part of that is: What's the impact on the public good? And I see no detriment to the public good at all. Certainly, no negative impact to the neighbors to stabilizing the steep slope. And in terms of the greater public good, in terms of the environmental benefit, there's clearly an environmental benefit to what the applicant is doing, because it's going to limit erosion and soil sedimentation of the streams. So that brings me to the impact on the zone plan. And, again, I see nothing but positive things from this proposal. First of all, the stabilization of the slope is consistent with the goal of your Steep Slope Ordinance. The proposal is consistent with your housing element and your land use element. The land use element designates this site for this use. The housing element designates this site as part of their response to your affordable housing obligation. And in terms of the bigger picture with the ordinance, it is a permitted use, it is a permitted density. The proposal is for affordable housing, and I always think that the zone plan of a community is actually strengthened when you approve an inclusionary development, because it makes you less vulnerable to exclusionary zoning litigation. So, in summary, I find that this proposal has a variety of benefits, so I conclude that there are benefits associated with the variance relief, but it's really, what the applicant is doing is complying with the spirit of your Steep Slope Ordinance. I find that the proposal advances multiple purposes of the Municipal Land Use Law, and that the variance relief does not create a substantial detriment to either the public good or to the zone plan. So I find that the benefits of the proposal substantially outweigh any detriments associated with granting the relief and would really urge the board to grant the relief that's requested tonight.
MR. WELLS: Thank you, MR. BERNARD.
I told the board at previous hearings that I intended to make this bulletproof, and this is the variance on which we need to put in the legal requirements, because, as you know, MR. BERNARD shares my opinion that it wasn't even a variance, and certainly the exceptions apply. But now you've had thorough testimony with respect to how it meets the (c)(2) criteria. I open him up for questions that anybody else might have.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Sure.
Dave, any questions?
MR. SCHEIBNER: I don't have any questions.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: COUNCILMAN VOIGT?
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: No.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: MAYOR KNUDSEN?
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Just a question. You indicated that in the state plan, this was identified as a mixed use concept, and I just wanted to ask you to elaborate on how this is a mixed use concept or did you not mean necessarily this site?
THE WITNESS: I didn't mean mixed use on the site, I meant the overall location is a mixed use location, mixed use area.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Because you said "site," so I just wanted to be clear I'm sorry, you said the location is a mixed use location, so I just want to be clear on that. Did the state plan identify it as a mixed use site or in general?
THE WITNESS: Just in general.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me one minute.
THE WITNESS: I'm sorry.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: You can nod your head back there any way you want, but I'm just trying to pay attention to the testimony of your expert. So it would be helpful if we didn't have antics from back there.
Go ahead. I'm sorry.
THE WITNESS: The state plan endorses mixed use areas.
There's probably a better way to say it, but what they endorse is exactly what's going on here, where you're having higher density housing in close proximity near/above stores, close to mass transit, they are trying to endorse pedestrian activity. Their goals are really very similar to the goals that are articulated in Ordinance 34 89, in terms of trying to increase pedestrian activity in the downtown by putting more people there.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Okay. All right. I might come back for a further question, but I'm good for now.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Okay. Sure.
Debbie, did you have any questions?
MS. PATIRE: No.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Melanie?
MS. McWILLIAMS: Not right now.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Isabella?
MS. ALTANO: Just a question as to the stabilization of a man made slope. That's more of a civil engineering question. I'm just really concerned about the water runoff and how that is going to be implemented as far as the site.
MR. WELLS: I know you weren't here at the last hearing, but there was extensive testimony on it. If you do get a chance to review the transcript, the engineer explained that.
MS. ALTANO: Right, I do have the transcript and I did read it, but I was
MR. WELLS: If you want, we can bring the engineer back and he can redress that, but that's really not a planning question.
MS. ALTANO: That's fine.
MR. WELLS: It's a fair question.
MS. ALTANO: I just want to make sure that's done properly.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Joel?
VICE CHAIRMAN TORIELLI: No questions at this time.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: And I have no questions.
Blais, do you have any questions?
MR. BRANCHEAU: Just one.
I wonder if MR. BERNARD was going to testify at all concerning (b)(3), the stacked parking?
THE WITNESS: No, I thought that Mr. Lapatka did that.
MR. BRANCHEAU: I know he did, but I didn't know if you had anything to add?
THE WITNESS: No, I agree with what he said, I thought he put it well.
MR. BRANCHEAU: Then that's all I have.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Chris? : Nothing. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Chris, do you have any questions?
MR. MARTIN: Maybe just for Tom.
Is MR. BERNARD permitted, in terms of what you're offering him for in terms of the (c)(2) variances?
MR. WELLS: If you have other questions that you would like to ask him, yes, but I think his testimony speaks for itself, but what is the question you're asking?
MR. MARTIN: Just that, if that's the focus of this witness' testimony and those are his opinions, it basically is with the slope issue, is that fair to say?
MR. WELLS: Well, no, I'll ask him the specific question, if you want. He obviously gave testimony with respect to Mt. Laurel or COAH and how this application is intended to meet the COAH requirements, and so he testified on that. He testified with respect to this.
BY MR. WELLS:
Q. And then I'll ask you the general question. As a Professional Planner, having seen the overall application, which includes the variance, it's obviously a site plan application, do you have a professional opinion with respect to the appropriateness of this application and the actions the board should take on it?
A. Well, yeah. I mean, what I was trying to convey with my testimony was I was trying to help the board understand what a low and moderate housing application is, because you don't get it every day. I was trying to convey the fact that it's kind of something a little special, because there is very powerful Supreme Court decision that kind of tells a board what they're expected to do. I was trying to explain to the board how that Supreme Court mandate has been implemented through state regulations, so that the board kind of understood what its role was in reviewing an inclusionary development, which includes granting reasonable variances. And then the last part of the testimony was designed to demonstrate how reasonable this variance would be. I think that's the best way I can summarize it.
Q. Yes, although that is obviously what we asked you to testify about, but since MR. MARTIN has suggested there might be more for you to testify, I'm just asking you the blanket question: As a person who's been around a lot of applications over the years as a Professional Planner, does this application as a whole seem to you to be reasonable and appropriate?
A. Oh, absolutely.
MR. WELLS: Is there anything else you want him to testify to?
MR. MARTIN: MR. BERNARD, are you offering any opinions as to the size of the actual improvement in terms of the number of units, any opinion one way or the other as to anything?
MR. WELLS: He hasn't been asked to. It's not before the board too.
MR. MARTIN: I'm just asking that question.
MR. WELLS: Okay.
THE WITNESS: The number of units are permitted. So, yeah, I have an opinion about it.
MR. MARTIN: You don't know how many current buildings in this particular zone are multifamily housing?
THE WITNESS: It doesn't matter. In my view, it doesn't matter, it's a permitted use. I'm not here for the use.
MR. MARTIN: Can you answer my question?
MR. WELLS: No, I'm going to object to the question for the record. It's not an appropriate question. You can ask it, but I'm going to put an objection on the record.
MR. MARTIN: Do you know how many buildings in this zone are multifamily housing at this point?
If the answer is no, that's okay, I'm just asking.
THE WITNESS: I'm not hesitating answering your question, I'm going to answer it fully.
MR. MARTIN: Okay. Go ahead.
THE WITNESS: I don't, and the reason I don't is I'm not here for a use variance, I'm here for what I consider a very reasonable variance to a minor steep slope.
MR. MARTIN: No further questions.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Sue, do you have any other questions?
MAYOR KNUDSEN: No.
THE WITNESS: Thank you.
MR. WELLS: I'm going to call our next witness, but
CHAIRMAN JOEL: The public has the opportunity.
Does anyone from the public want to ask questions of MR. BERNARD?
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Seeing none, there's no one.
MR. WELLS: Thank you, MR. BERNARD.
MS. PATIRE: As far as the steep slope, and I know from a couple meetings ago, two meetings ago, they were talking about New Jersey Transit, has any of this been addressed with them on any impacts it may or may not have to the rail service or in your opinion are there any impacts?
MR. WELLS: That's probably a good lead into what I was just going to do. That's again a question for the engineer. He kind of testified at that other hearing, he's here, so when MR. BERNARD is done, I'm going to ask him to come back and ask him to answer Melanie's question and your question.
Thank you, MR. BERNARD.
Mr. Lapatka, you've actually been sworn. There's actually two questions. They can repeat them, if you want, or if you remember them.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Can you just use the microphone.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Just let the record reflect that he was previously sworn and you're still sworn.
MR. MARTIN: And previously qualified.
Hi, Mr. Lapatka.
ALEXANDER J. LAPATKA, P.E.,
Having been previously sworn, continues to testify as follows:
MR. LAPATKA: For the steep slope, we proposed to plant an evergreen hedge along part of it. Okay. It would be an upright yew, and the remainder will be topsoil and stabilized with ground veg.
MR. WELLS: The second question that was just asked a minute ago was what implications this particular variance has with respect to the railroad, was there any involvement with the railroad?
MR. LAPATKA: Well, the only impact would be a positive impact, and there would be less erosion from the steep slope onto the railroad property, after we're done with this property.
MR. WELLS: Okay. Thank you.
MS. McWILLIAMS: Again, just for the record, has anyone talked to New Jersey Transit about it?
MR. LAPATKA: I have not.
MR. WELLS: What we've done is given them a proper legal notice, which is all we need to do.
MS. McWILLIAMS: At your last hearing you said they hadn't responded at all, and have they still not responded?
MR. WELLS: And that would be, quite frankly, normal. If they were concerned, they do, but normally when they get notice, if they're not concerned, they don't, and that's the way it always is.
MS. McWILLIAMS: They were notified certified mail or something, so you have receipt that actually somebody has received it?
MR. WELLS: Yes, and Mr. Cafarelli has copies of our receipts to indicate that they were notified.
MS. McWILLIAMS: All right. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Does anyone from the public have questions?
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Okay.
MR. WELLS: Thank you, Mr. Lapatka.
Next is Mr. Disario.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Okay.
MR. WELLS: You want to swear him in?
MAYOR KNUDSEN: I'm sorry, I just wanted to ask one other question about the steep slope.
MR. WELLS: We can do that.
MR. LAPATKA: Yes.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Is any of that, to your knowledge you might not be able to answer this question is any of that steep slope contaminated, oil, or in any way contaminated?
MR. LAPATKA: Not to my knowledge, but I can't testify about that.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: You can't?
MR. LAPATKA: I didn't conduct studies.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: So when will we hear testimony with respect to contamination of any soil?
MR. WELLS: We mentioned that at an earlier hearing. There was a cleanup on this site historically, it wasn't done by this applicant, and Mr. Leventhal is prepared to tell you anything you want to know as far as he knows about that.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: I'd actually like to hear that, but I'd also like to see all the documentation on it as well.
MR. WELLS: Again, under what relevance, or, you know, you have an engineer, you have a planner, they've all been through this.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: You said he will speak about it. Presumably, if he's going to speak about it, it would be beneficial to have any documentation on it.
MR. WELLS: There is, as with everything, including the traffic things we've talked about, there's certain jurisdiction that the village and the Planning Board has, and certain jurisdictions that are other things. The cleanup that was done on this site was not done by this particular applicant, it was done historically and it was done under the jurisdiction of the DEP. That's the agency with the jurisdiction over it, and I don't know that there's anything before this board right now, although Mr. Leventhal can, I don't even really know about it because it's not terribly relevant to what we're doing here, but he can try to answer whatever questions you might have about this, you know, what was done on the site, you know, some years ago.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Okay. We'll look forward to hearing that.
MR. WELLS: Okay. Good.
MS. ALTANO: I'm sorry. To that point, before you go for the project, you have to make necessary applications?
MR. WELLS: And we did.
MS. ALTANO: So that would yield, you know, whatever soil you have there. Is that correct?
MR. WELLS: You can again, you can ask your engineer as well, but we've made a complete filing here and complied fully with everything we need to do. Again, Mr. Leventhal can try to explain historically on this one, but I don't know anything that we're lacking that would be, you know, a real concern to the board.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Maybe, Chris, can you just give a comment. I think it would be helpful.
MR. MARTIN: MR. RUTISHAUSER, can you raise your right hand.
Do you swear to tell 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 remain a Professional Engineer for the Village of Ridgewood. So stipulated, Mr. WELLS?
MR. WELLS: Yes.
MR. RUTISHAUSER: Okay. Good evening.
As Mr. WELLS said, the present owner of the site has a responsibility for the site cleanup. To do that, under the current regulations from the NJDEP, they have to hire an LSRP, a licensed site remediation professional. The DEP, a number of years ago, outsourced the oversight of cleanup activities to the private sector, utilizing these regulated individuals, the LSRPs. I don't recall seeing the final reports for the site, but they are required to submit them to us in the village, same as somebody submitting a stream encroachment permit application, a copy would come to the village, so it would be available for the public to look at it, if they are interested.
MS. ALTANO: Okay.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: And as a condition of building there, they would have to show that it was
MR. WELLS: Clean, yes.
MR. RUTISHAUSER: Yes. There's also, Mr. WELLS knows probably much better than I do and so does MR. MARTIN, there are legal consequences for a purchaser if they were to purchase the property without having satisfactory documentation that the cleanup was done, they unfortunately would then have that liability, if it were to occur down the road. The cleanup rules are very strict in the sense that he who owns the property is responsible for the cleanup.
MR. MARTIN: Even if he didn't generate the issue?
MR. RUTISHAUSER: Correct.
MR. WELLS: I think if you just wait a minute and hear Mr. Leventhal's testimony, I think can satisfy any concerns you have here. If there is anything additional that wasn't submitted, which I don't believe is the case, or anything additional that needs to be cleared up, we'll certainly do that, but why don't we ask the person who actually knows about it to talk to the board and answer whatever question you may have.
MR. MARTIN: Would you like to have Mr. Disario first or Mr. Leventhal?
MR. WELLS: Well, I'm going to use Mr. Disario now. Mr. Leventhal is going to be last and answer whatever questions have kind of been left over, and this is one of those.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Yes. Okay.
MR. MARTIN: Mr. Disario, come on up.
Mr. Disario, raise your right hand.
Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
MR. DISARIO: Yes, I do.
D A N D I S A R I O,
Having been duly sworn, testifies as follows:
MR. MARTIN: And please state your company name and your professional licensure.
MR. DISARIO: Certainly.
For the record, Dan Disario, D I S A R I O. I'm with the firm of Langan Engineering and Environmental Services Inc., headquartered in Parsippany, New Jersey. I am the director of traffic and transportation services at my firm. I'm a licensed Professional Engineer in the states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and Wisconsin. I've appeared before boards throughout New Jersey, probably on the order of 300 to 400 municipalities in the State of New Jersey as an expert on traffic engineering. In terms of education, just for the board's benefit, I have a bachelor of science in civil engineering from Temple University. I also have a master of science in transportation engineering from NJIT.
MR. WELLS: Okay. I'm going to let MR. MARTIN see if he wants to touch that up, but he seems pretty well qualified, again, to me.
CROSS VOIR DIRECT EXAMINATION
BY MR. MARTIN:
Q. I see one of his designations is PTOE.
What is that?
A. That's a national certification. It's issued by the Transportation Research Board, and it's a Professional Traffic Operations Engineer certification, and that's nationwide.
Q. And that's in good standing. How long have you had that?
A. I've had that over 10 years.
Q. Do you have to renew it?
A. Yes, and actually it's coming up for renewal this May.
Q. This May?
Q. So currently in good standing.
Mr. Jahr, any questions or no?
(Mr. Jahr shakes his head.)
MR. MARTIN: Mr. Disario, the board accepts you as an engineer with a specialty as a professional traffic engineer.
THE WITNESS: Thank you.
MR. WELLS: I just want to make clear, that's certainly what we're offering him for, but Mr. Disario will be testifying certainly with respect to matters related to traffic, but as a related matter to traffic is parking and the circulation on the site. He will be testifying with respect to that as well, and we offer him as an expert in that regard as well.
MR. MARTIN: Yes, I think that's part and parcel, but yes.
THE WITNESS: Thank you.
BY MR. WELLS:
Q. Rather than take him through questions, I'm going to simply ask Mr. Disario to start by telling you what he's done in the way of preparation in understanding the site and to be prepared to testify before you, and then to go ahead and run through his conclusions with respect to the traffic and parking. I would suggest to you, he's also submitted a written report, copies of which you all already have or hopefully have, they were submitted to the board several weeks ago. And I'll ask he'll be undoubtedly referring to that report, but be giving full testimony with respect to all matters on traffic. So, if that's okay with you, Dan, I'm going to turn you loose and let you do your thing.
A. Sure. Thank you. And just so the record is clear, we originally prepared a traffic evaluation dated August 24, 2016. Subsequent to that original traffic evaluation, we've revised it, and the revised traffic evaluation is dated January 26, 2017. That was submitted, and hopefully the board has a copy of that as part of your package. In addition to that, we prepared a response letter to the latest review letter that Mr. Jahr has prepared that had several comments in it. Our response letter bears the date of January 26, 2017, and hopefully the board also has that in your packet. So, from a technical perspective, in my mind, all issues that have been raised by way of comment through Mr. Jahr we have addressed and hopefully to your satisfaction.
MR. MARTIN: Mr. Disario, I just want to mark for identification, and maybe Mr. WELLS can help me
MR. WELLS: Yes, sir.
MR. MARTIN: I have the August 24, 2016 report. That was your first one, correct?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
MR. MARTIN: Okay. May I mark that Disario 1?
MR. WELLS: Why don't we stick with the A designation, although we don't have that on our list, so maybe we'll make that A 17.
MR. MARTIN: You're absolutely right.
MR. WELLS: It had been previously submitted, it has actually been subject to revision now, but we can certainly mark it.
MR. MARTIN: All right, that's A 17.
(Report dated 8/24/16 by D. Disario, PE, PTOE is marked as exhibit A 17 for identification.)
MR. MARTIN: Then the next one I have is a similar bound document, but it says revised January 26, 2017, correct?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
MR. MARTIN: Can we make that A 18?
MR. WELLS: No, that's A 14, if you will, if we stick with the list we already have.
MR. MARTIN: All right, A 14.
MR. WELLS: Right.
(Revised Report dated 1/26/17 by D. Disario, PE, PTOE is marked as exhibit A 14 for identification.)
MR. MARTIN: And then finally, because the date was just confusing me, January 26th is the same date, that's the response letter?
MR. WELL: Correct.
MR. MARTIN: And is that already on the list?
MR. WELLS: Yes.
MR. MARTIN: A 15?
MR. WELLS: A 15.
(Response letter dated 1/26/17 is marked as exhibit A 15 for identification.)
MR. WELLS: Since we've gotten into marking exhibits, we've also submitted to the board turning exhibits that was in your package.
MR. MARTIN: A 16?
THE WITNESS: Well, they are part of the response letter, which is designated as exhibit A 15.
MR. WELLS: Well, it's already within the response letter so we'll consider that marked already.
THE WITNESS: As one exhibit.
MR. WELLS: Fine.
MR. MARTIN: The list is very helpful, I think.
MR. WELLS: So we have A 14, A 15. A 17 is the earlier report, which is not as relevant now, because it's really been revised and supplemented not really supplemented but replaced with A 14.
MR. MARTIN: It's historical content.
MR. WELLS: Yes, we got it.
THE WITNESS: Just so the record is clear and I'm clear as well, exhibit A 15 is our response letter dated January 26, 2017, and that includes the turning path exhibits as part of it.
MR. MARTIN: Yes.
MR. WELLS: Yes.
THE WITNESS: So that one exhibit is encompassing our responses as well as those turning path exhibits.
(Turning path exhibits are marked as exhibit A 16 for identification.)
MR. MARTIN: I'm going to mark that A 15 and A 16.
MR. WELLS: Whichever, whatever you're comfortable with.
MR. MARTIN: Thank you. Go ahead.
BY MR. WELLS:
A. (Continuing) So, you've heard from our planner and I think Art, no pun intended, artfully put forth to the board what I think is one of the aspects of this project that's very important from a traffic perspective, and, that is, this location and the proposed residential development is consistent with what I think the board is probably familiar with, a term that's used a lot in New Jersey, "Smart Growth." And one of the tenets of smart growth is to plan development in a particular residential development in areas where there's opportunities to allow residents of future developments to not rely on their cars to get around. This proposed site or this proposed development on this site, in my opinion is very ideal, as it's within walking distance of the train station. So it's very conceivable that some of the residents, maybe a lot of the residents, if the board is inclined to approve this project and it was built, may not necessarily own a car and will rely on the train to get to and from work or to and from other areas.
There's also a benefit of this site, because it's, for all intents and purposes, directly adjacent to your Central Business District. So, like my wife and I, we like to go out for dinner on Saturday nights, she's not going to cook, it's her night off, and I completely agree with that. Where we live, we have to get into a car and drive to a restaurant every Saturday night. This location, people that would live in this development, could actually walk to a bunch of great restaurants right in downtown Ridgewood.
So when you take a step back from a traffic perspective, this is exactly the type of planning and land use planning and project that you want to see as it relates to reducing the reliance on residents with their cars to get around. So these types of developments tend to generate less traffic than a similar sized development would out in a suburban location, because it avails or allows the residents of a development to walk to nearby locations, whether it's mass transit or shopping. Now, I've done a very detailed revised traffic evaluation, exhibit A 14. I would be happy to take you through in detail everything that I have done. But what I will do, and you can ask me any questions you like, and if you want to ask me questions along the way, feel free, I think that's a better flow in terms of the presentation and the dialogue. When you look at traffic impacts from a particular development and traffic operations near that development, we, as traffic engineers, look at peak hours. So, for a residential development, generally speaking, peak hours are one hour going in the morning between 7 and 9, which is your typical commuting time, and then one hour during the evening between 4 and 6, when people are coming back home from work. One of the aspects of the revised traffic evaluation is estimating how much traffic this proposed development would generate. Now, the board knows we are proposing or the applicant is proposing 93 apartments. The Institute of Transportation Engineers, which is my professional society, puts forth a publication called "Trip Generation Manual." It's in its 9th edition. And basically that manual collects data from sites around the country for different land uses and develops trip rates that traffic engineers use to estimate how much traffic a planned development would generate. Based on the ITE trip rate, this proposed 93 apartment development that's before you, during the weekday morning peak hour is estimated to generate nine vehicles coming in and 19 vehicles leaving. So a total two way traffic in the weekday morning peak hour, one hour between 7 to 9 in the morning, of 28 trips. During the weekday evening peak hour, so, again, one hour between 4 and 6 in the afternoon, based on the ITE trip rates, it's estimated that this proposed development will generate 21 vehicles coming in and 16 vehicles leaving, for a total two way volume of 37 trips during the weekday evening peak hour. Now, I would submit to you respectfully that that level of traffic generation is not significant. There's a few publications and agencies and entities that really set forth some benchmarks as to whether or not a traffic study is needed or not. Typically, it's recognized, if you have a development that generates 100 peak hour trips at any peak hour or less, it doesn't rise to the level or the need or warrants a formal traffic study, because that level of traffic generation is not significant. Now, I've taken you through how much we estimate this development is going to generate. Now, that traffic is going to be split, it's going to be split to the north along Broad Street and to the south along Broad Street. We've conservatively assumed that about two thirds of the traffic would go to and from the north along Broad Street towards Ridgewood Avenue. The other one third would go to the south, to and from the south along Broad Street. So if you break down the traffic that we've estimated and assume two thirds are going to and from the north along Broad Street and one third is going to the south along Broad Street, to and from the south along Broad Street, and you look at that and you look at what that actually means and equates to, you're talking about the addition of one new vehicle, worst case in any peak hour in any direction, every four minutes. So just think about that for a second. So if you're going north on Broad past the site or if you're coming south on Broad from Ridgewood Avenue or similarly coming up Broad south of the site or going past the site on Broad heading south, the additional traffic from this development in either of those directions that I've cited would amount to about one new vehicle on average every four minutes.
MR. MARTIN: In each peak hour?
THE WITNESS: In each peak hour. The worst case. The absolute worst case. You're talking one new vehicle every four minutes in any direction during peak hours.
BY MR. WELLS:
A. (Continuing) Respectfully, I would submit to you that if you went out there today and you watched traffic along Broad Street or at the intersection of Broad and Ridgewood, and you were inclined to approve this application and the development as proposed was constructed, I would submit to you you would not be able to perceive a noticeable change in traffic operations because of the small amount of traffic that would be generated or is estimated to be generated by this proposed development. Now, those trip rates that ITE puts forth, they're, by and large, based on suburban development. As I stated to you earlier, I would anticipate that some of the residents, maybe a lot of the residents of this particular development, if it were built, are not going to have a huge reliance on automobiles and that will result in less traffic being generated, reasonably so, than what we've estimated. Because it's conceivable, and I can tell you if I had an occasion to live up here, I have kids, but, you know, eventually I'm going to be an empty nester, and this is the exact kind of development in area that my wife and I are going to be looking to once we're empty nesters. Because I would love the opportunity to live somewhere where I can hop on a train and get to New York or I can walk down the street and go to a restaurant. So I would anticipate that during the peak hours, that we've discussed or I've discussed, this development is actually probably going to generate less traffic. I think something that's also helpful, and I'm not going to do a direct comparison
Q. I think you've made this clear, but I really want to hone in on it. What you just said about you anticipate you get less, that is not built into that one new car for us, so it would be less than that?
A. Correct. That is correct.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Can I remind you to please use the microphone, because it is hard to hear when you turn your back.
MR. WELLS: Okay.
THE WITNESS: Just so it's clear, but what Tom asked was whether my study has accounted for anybody using the train, and my answer is no. My study is based on, my estimates of traffic generation are based on the published trip rates, and, those, by and large, are based on suburban developments where traffic counts were collected. So I would anticipate that this development would generate less traffic than what I've accounted for in my revised traffic evaluation. I think there's some historical context that's important to this discussion too. Historically, this hasn't been a greenfield site with no development on it. Previously, it was a car dealership. Right now there's commuter parking that is taking place on the site. So the site historically has generated traffic to the area. The site currently is generating traffic to the area by way of the commuter parking activity. So when you look at the estimates for this proposed development, it's not necessarily going to be a huge difference than what has historically occurred at this site when it was a car dealership or what's currently occurring at the site, that being commuter parking. So this site has always generated traffic, and this new development, which is really a redevelopment, is going to generate traffic as well, but not to any significant extent where I believe you're going to be able to perceive any noticeable changes to area traffic operations. As it relates to the proposed driveways, as the board is familiar, we're proposing two driveways; on the north end of the site is an enter only driveway, and on the south end of the site is an exit only driveway. Based on our revised traffic evaluation, I've concluded that those driveways will operate very efficiently and with little delay, either for motorists that are turning into on the enter only driveway or motorists that are waiting to turn out of the exit only driveway, based on the volumes that we've identified in the report. And I would point out that we have accounted for other developments at the request of the Mr. Jahr, and those include Chestnut Village, Enclave, and the Ken Smith site, based on the report that was done for the village when you were evaluating the zoning across the village in terms of allowing residential development in areas that were not previously zoned for residential development. Now, if there are no questions in terms of traffic generation and the associated impacts, which I believe will be insignificant
MAYOR KNUDSEN: I do have a couple of questions.
THE WITNESS: Sure.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: So thank you.
THE WITNESS: You're welcome.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: You're a professional guy, you're your trip generator guy?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: So you've indicated that it's the use of suburban developments that drive those trip numbers. So how do you make an adjustment for the roadway network that is significantly different than what would appear in this suburban environment? What's the adjustment? Because this is I mean, I'm sure that you would agree, and I know when you and I have this conversation about this particular roadway network on different occasions, it's a difficult roadway and never really designed to absorb all of this traffic. What is the adjustment or how does that work when the roadway network is, you're using these trip generators, it's suburban, it's very different than what we have on Board Street, Hudson, Leroy, and Passaic. So is there an adjustment? How does that work?
THE WITNESS: For the roadway network itself, so not this site or its driveways but for the roadway network itself, you make no adjustments. You have to identify and establish and quantify the existing conditions along those surrounding roads; existing conditions in terms of traffic volumes, geometry, lane geometry and how many lanes there are along the various roads. So the only adjustment that could be made in terms of the estimated trips and the subsequent analysis is if I were to take what I've estimated in terms of trip generation for this development and reduced those numbers down, so make them less than what I've estimated to account for the readily available mass transit that will serve this site.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: So the trip generator guy never took into account this scenario? It never took into account this particular scenario, so it is I suppose conjecture somewhat as to what the end result might be.
THE WITNESS: Respectfully, mayor, I disagree with you. You have a two-step process, if you will. One is identifying the existing road conditions by way of volume and lane geometry. Those are independent of what is going to occur at the site. Then you have to identify what the site is going to add in terms of volume to that adjacent road network. The fact that most of the ITE database for apartments is for suburban locations means that applying them to this particular site and this particular context results in the development generating more traffic to the road network and resulting in greater impact to the road network than what I believe is going to reasonably occur, because I believe this development is going to generate less traffic than what we've estimated, because it is in an urban setting that's next to transit. So, in the suburban location, anyone to get anywhere is driving their car. In this context, in this particular site, some people are not going to drive everywhere or get everywhere by driving their car, some people are going to actually walk to shop downtown, maybe some may even work downtown. I would imagine those that are going to walk are going to walk to the train station to hop a train to the city. So that results in less traffic generated by the site than what I've estimated. So it's a conservative analysis in terms of addressing impact from this site. The impacts that have been identified and are on my revised evaluation, are more than what I believe will actually occur.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Okay. Thank you.
THE WITNESS: You're welcome.
(Continuing) So, let's turn to parking now, because I believe that's been
MS. PATIRE: Can I ask a question?
THE WITNESS: Sure.
MS. PATIRE: So, in your experience, how many of these proposed site plans in a somewhat urban community, as you call it, have you, with your company or previous companies have worked on and given estimates to as far as traffic counts?
THE WITNESS: Oh, quite a few.
MS. PATIRE: So is there anything, I don't know, within in a Montclair, a Summit or some sort of downtown like we have that you worked on that you provided an estimate, and have you ever provided an estimate and you have been wrong?
THE WITNESS: My estimates, when I've had projects in that kind of context, like Hoboken, Jersey City, as two examples
MS. PATIRE: Uh huh.
THE WITNESS: of projects that come to mind immediately, my estimates have always been higher than what has actually occurred, because we're not trying to take any credits for mass transit or alternative modes of transportation besides a car, like walking or bicycling, when we do our reports.
MS. PATIRE: True, but I would argue that Hoboken and Jersey City may have a different clientele and a very young, hip kind of community. So in Ridgewood, I was curious, if you worked on anything like a suburban/urban area that has had the train station, this kind of level of apartments, etc., that you've done? You're not comparing us to Jersey City or Hoboken?
THE WITNESS: Not at all.
MS. PATIRE: I think that's different, I think that's a lot of young people who may not have cars because they commute into New York City and work, again for you and your wife that want to move here or whatnot, have you worked on any in a town like ours?
MR. WELLS: For the record, let me emphasize a point that I think that he's made but make sure we all understand it. The counts that he's given you do not include the adjustment that he would make in Jersey City or Hoboken or Ridgewood. In other words, the numbers that we have, if you assume they're higher, like they would be in the suburbs, are still de minimis. We're telling you it will be lower than that. He's not including it.
MS. PATIRE: No, I'm just curious, is there anything that you worked on that has been somewhat of our area and given counts, and, again, I've been wrong on my job sometime. It's okay. I was curious if there was anything you either underestimated on in terms of things that you've done?
THE WITNESS: None that come to mind. I have worked for the same company that's doing this project. We did do a mixed use development which had two apartment buildings over in Fair Lawn on 208. I don't know if you've ever been to Fair Lawn Commons. A really nice development. I'm going to get into some of the parking testimony later, we actually did some parking research at one of those buildings, which I will present to you in a moment, and compared that to what ITE has for parking information for apartments, and it was lower than what ITE suggests. So there's none that come to mind, other than Fair Lawn Commons, but I can assure you I've worked on a lot of projects and I'm sure there are some.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Just for the record, could you just give us the address of Fair Lawn Commons, address and location specifically.
MS. PATIRE: It is a little different, you're not really walking to the train on 208.
THE WITNESS: You know what, the name of the project is Fair Lawn Promenade, I don't know why I always say Fair Lawn Commons, which is right next door.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: "Promenade" sounds so much nicer.
THE WITNESS: It does. And it's One Promenade, right off of 208.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: That's what I wanted to get to. That's right on 208, basically it's right there, which is a little bit different.
MS. PATIRE: And you could walk to the Radburn section from that.
THE WITNESS: You could, and you could walk to the downtown too.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: So I just wanted to expand on what my point was, and I appreciate my colleague bringing this up again. My point is that you could have a suburban trip generator based on a suburban network and the result might seem de minimis, but when you take that same number and put it onto a more compromised or different roadway network, the impact could be actually worse. So that count is relative to the roadway, and I'm just asking: Would you agree with that?
THE WITNESS: That's a different discussion. So, if you're talking about impacts on a roadway, what we've done is we've estimated the trips and put them onto Broad Street Court and we've identified impacts. Those identified impacts are conservative, because what we've identified I believe overstate what the impact is and that the actual impacts will be less. Now, let's just talk about what's the most compromised intersection or one of the most compromised intersections in the village, Ridgewood Avenue and Broad Street. So, if you look at that intersection, there's no question, I wouldn't stand here before you and tell you that intersection works great, because we all know it doesn't. My revised traffic evaluation, my original traffic evaluation way back when we were in the zoning/rezoning portion of this application, not before this board but before the governing body, we all recognized that intersection has its challenges and there's delays during peak hours. What I am respectfully submitting to you is that we will impact that intersection, there's no question about it, but it's to the order of one additional vehicle every four minutes, at most, going through that intersection in any direction that would be attributed to this project. I will again state, that level of traffic generation, no one on this board will be able to perceive a noticeable difference. Will delays go up because of that small traffic increase at that intersection? Without question, they will, but I would characterize that as not a significant impact.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: To your point, mayor, you know, I'm concerned. You are making a bad situation worse and you're saying it's de minimis. I'm having a difficult time wrapping my head around the de minimis issue, when it's really bad to begin with. And that's where I'm having some difficulty. And I think that's the point you're making?
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Well, you know, you're making the best case scenario, once every four minutes, so that's just
MR. WELLS: Can I remind us of that legal context form. Remember, traffic congestion elsewhere, even if it was stalled completely, is not relevant for denial of this application, it's relevant only for the issue of do we have any fair share of that. And when we say it's "de minimis," it's so little as compared to the improvement that the village would have to make as to not, that's what we're talking about.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Just for the record, I didn't raise the issue of Broad and Ridgewood Avenue, Mr. Disario did, so
MR. WELLS: It's in the report.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: I know, but specifically my question was relative to right there, right on site.
MR. WELLS: Okay. Fair enough.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: I did not bring up
MR. WELLS: So you're talking about the access points on Broad Street?
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Yes.
MR. WELLS: Okay. He'll address that.
THE WITNESS: In our revised traffic evaluation showed that the proposed access points to this site will operate at very good levels of service. So, levels of service go from A to F; "A" being very good operations, "F" being not so good. And the proposed driveways, referring to my report, just so the record has some detail, the two proposed driveways during the weekday morning and evening peak hours will operate at a level of service B or better, with a delay of 13 seconds or less for any movements associated with those driveway intersections. I can tell you that that is a very efficient operation that we anticipate for those proposed driveways.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: And then one last question, and this goes to our colleague's comment earlier about if you've been wrong. Under what circumstances would you go back to a site and study the trips generated after the fact and compare those to what you estimated would occur before?
THE WITNESS: Two instances come to mind. One is if we get a site approved and it's built, and then something subsequent to that is done to the site, like an expansion. For instance, I worked on a Stop & Shop supermarket in Elizabeth along North Avenue. It was approved, it was built, it was functional. And then they wanted to come back and add, it was a futile attempt, but they wanted to add gasoline sales to that study. So we did a subsequent traffic study, and I was able to then count the actual traffic being generated by that supermarket as part of an additional traffic study that was done later on for an application to add fuel sales at that site. The other instance that comes to mind is if a development application is approved, there's been times, although infrequent, where a condition has been part of that approval where a follow up traffic study would be done to test, if you will, either assumptions of trip generation or what impacts will actually or have actually occurred post development.
MR. MARTIN: That's exactly where I was going there. There's certain drive throughs and sometimes you cannot make a left turn, sometimes there's a lookback for six months to find out if there's conditions that cause a danger; if there is, then there's a "no left turn" sign that's put there.
MR. WELLS: MR. MARTIN is correct, in those few rare instance you go back and study it, it's usually tied to something that everybody said probably isn't necessary but might be and a changing direction or a sign or something, and then it becomes conditioned on whatever it actually turns out to be.
MR. MARTIN: I think COUNCILMAN VOIGT raised a question before, I know Tommy liked to say you cannot deny, you cannot deny. Moving farther beyond that point is the conditions in terms of pro rata share and then nexus and then things like that, same analogy like this, condition of approval as opposed to a denial in certain instances.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: So conditions of approval, supposing they don't agree with the conditions of approval, what do we do then?
MR. MARTIN: Hypothetically, you know, it's part and parcel of the approval, but there's one thing
MR. WELLS: Just we need to put it we need to cross that particular "T."
Somebody, and our expert is telling you we're insignificant, would have to say we're significant, and then would have to propose an improvement, and then we'd have to figure out how much we're impacting that site, and then we'd have a pro rata share of that improvement. So those are a lot of steps the village has to take, which our position is, it would make no sense.
MR. MARTIN: I was being a little ambiguous. I was going back with the traffic expert in terms of ingress/egress which is on tract.
MR. WELLS: Absolutely.
MR. MARTIN: I used the analogy to the analogy of the nexus to the
MR. WELLS: If those were F movements, not B plus as they have been testified and needed to be changed, those would be totally appropriate for you to say, "Oh, no, you can't have a left turn out," or "You have to put a traffic light out front because it's a failing movement."
MR. MARTIN: You understand, in terms correctly on the ingress/egress, and the time, and the peak hours and things like that, if something was agreed upon, Mr. Jahr is here as well, that you would feel comfortable and the applicant agrees to, there can be further analysis post construction.
MR. WELLS: Sure. Sure. But, again, there's no evidence that supports any of that.
MR. MARTIN: I'm just saying that you can condition, is the word I was talking of.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: To continue the cliffhanger, what were the results of the counts, were you off the mark or spot on or
MR. WELLS: I'm glad you remembered to ask that.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: I want to know.
MR. MARTIN: I'm guessing he was right around where it should be, but go ahead.
THE WITNESS: The supermarket that I referred to, we were pretty much spot on, and not only in terms of what we estimated for the actual traffic generation of the supermarket, but also the movements into and out of that site, how many vehicles made a right off of North Avenue versus how many vehicles came in off of Route 27. So I was pretty happy with that one.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: How about the other one?
THE WITNESS: The other example I gave was just in a general context that there can be, and I've been involved, and I don't know any specifics that are coming to mind right now, where a board would attach a condition to an approval that would require a follow up study. I don't have any specifics that comes to mind, Mr. Chairman, but another thing that just came into my mind is, a lot of times, either at a site driveway, or, let's say, at an off site intersection, they'll be a discussion of a traffic signal and whether one is needed or not. So a board can approve a site with a condition that once it's built and fully operational, a follow up study is done to determine whether or not the actual volumes in the future with the development built and operational warrant installation of a traffic signal, but none come to mind specifically.
MS. PATIRE: Can I ask one other question?
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Please.
MS. PATIRE: I have no idea, because this is not my area of expertise, was it ever looked at where you come out to make a right turn only versus going left?
THE WITNESS: We did not look at that, because the application
MS. PATIRE: The applicant?
THE WITNESS: The application is for full access, and we would respectfully request full access. And based on my evaluation, a left turn out of the exit only driveway is not going to be an issue operationally.
MS. PATIRE: Yeah, it's just, again, I know, you do things in the village and in certain areas we have right only, left turn only, again, that's for safety, that's a narrow street, cars park on that side, there's a gym there, there's a church there, there's things going on, so it is a tight street, and to have two way traffic, you're going to be queuing, because you're going to be queueing from Ridgewood Avenue certain times of the day, whether it's rush hour or whatnot, so I was asking about that.
MR. WELLS: Let him explain level of service again, because it's when the level of service, remember what he said is a B plus; like a D or an F, that means that you can't get out that they start to talk about signals or left turn out, so maybe you can explain why it wouldn't be required here.
THE WITNESS: Yes, and as Tom said, if we evaluated that left turn out from the proposed exit driveway and it was a level of service F and it was failing, then I think it would be an appropriate discussion to talk about prohibiting left turns out. But that's certainly not the case with the revised traffic evaluation. Everything that you've said in terms of your concerns with S. Broad Street, on street parking, the narrow lane width, to me, and I take a different opinion to a lot of my colleagues in my field, I think all those things are a good thing, because they force traffic to slow down. Now, that's not to suggest that everyone who drives up and down Broad Street drives slowly, but the more you have by way of either on street parking or narrow widths, the more vehicles tend to drive slowly. I can take you to a suburban location again, classic example, in the RSIS, which we'll get to in a second, which governs residential development in the state, that's geared primarily towards suburban development. And it's perfectly fine to have a residential subdivision with a 30 foot wide street with single family homes with two car garages and driveways that can fit another two cars. So what you inevitably have is everyone not parking on the street, because they're either in the garage or the driveways, and you have 30 foot wide roadways with no parking on them and people speed down them. I live in a development like that in South Brunswick. My philosophy, in terms of really calming traffic, is that roads should be narrower, should have on street parking, and all the things that make sense to calm traffic down and reduce speeds. Everything you said, they don't concern me in terms of what we're proposing in terms of for access points, and I think they're a good thing. If you removed the on street parking on Broad Street near the site, I think you would see travel speeds increase, because people will get a greater sense of comfort because they have a nice wider lane to travel in.
MS. McWILLIAMS: I think you'd see them sitting in traffic as they are now, stopped and queuing at all of the intersections. It's not even a wide enough street to get that much speed up in the first place. And I have a question, while you're on that subject.
THE WITNESS: Can I address what you just said, please?
MS. McWILLIAMS: Sure.
THE WITNESS: I agree with you, during peak hours, there's going to be intersections where there's queuing; during off peak hours, where you don't have an issue with queuing, that's when people tend to drive faster. And the more you have in terms of narrower lanes and on street parking and different activity along the roadway, that's when people will tend to slow down.
MS. McWILLIAMS: I understand you feel that way.
Is it a level of service A or B or a passing level of service now because there's no guarantee, I mean it's a hypothetical, so to say it's a positive level OF service ingress and egress all of that, currently there's no way to even really know. So you're saying you foresee, you imagine empty nesters
MR. WELLS: Can I just object. He "foresees," he "imagines," "no way to know," he is an expert who has been qualified before the board, so it's more than imagine and foresee.
MS. McWILLIAMS: Is he an expert in who is going to rent the apartments?
MR. WELLS: Yes, he is an expert testifying with his expertise in traffic in estimating how many trips will come from this project, and he's given you his whole basis for that.
So, in all due respect, it's really disrespectful for you to just say you have no idea and you are imagining.
MS. McWILLIAMS: I didn't say you have no idea
MR. WELLS: Well, you said he was imagining.
MS. McWILLIAMS: I said it is hypothetical, because I'm saying to you, I find it I'm curious to see how it is anybody can guarantee who's going to rent the apartments, how they're going to drive in and out of them. I understand he's an expert, he's measured this in all of the
MR. WELLS: That's what experts do, and you have an expert
MS. McWILLIAMS: Thank you.
MR. WELLS: you have an expert, and presumably he'll talk to you about this a little bit and your attorney can certainly talk to you about it, but you have to have some basic respect for the expertise that is being presented to you.
THE WITNESS: Let me just object here, because Tom is a good lawyer and he's representing the applicant. Just so everyone is clear, there's a prescribed method to preparing a traffic study. It's a quantitative process that's empirically based. There's isn't a hypothetical here. The hypothetical is you make a guess that's not rooted in any type of empirical data. Everything that traffic engineering is, it's unlike other sciences. You know, you give me a gas and you subject it to a different pressure and temperature, I can tell what the volume of that gas is going to be. Traffic engineering is different, it's empirically based, so everything that we do is based on going out and collecting data. The estimated trips for this development is based on empirical data that has been collected at other apartment developments throughout the country. That is with which the basis that any traffic engineer, whether it's me, whether it's Mr. Jahr or someone else that appears before you, is going to use to estimate how much traffic.
MS. McWILLIAMS: I don't dispute the empirical data, I don't dispute the evidence, I'm completely well aware of what evidence is and how it's gathered and the definition of the word, I'm also somebody that utilizes these streets and these roadways every day, and I was going to present you with, you know, a question. I know many empty nesters that live in the village that perhaps would be interested in some sort of a development like this, but I also have the ones that I know, for example, like my in laws who live here, drive to the doctor every day, you know, and their friends go to the doctor every day, in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening. Say that's just one place they go; the grocery store. I do agree that there will be I understand the evidence and the data about walking and all the rest of that, but I wonder if, when you discuss who will be living in these apartments, who will be the renters, you know, I have a concern about that and that level about how it actually will play out in reality when it comes to fruition.
THE WITNESS: And in all I've submitted to you for your consideration is that this development may actually generate less traffic than what we've estimated and used for the analysis based on the empirical data with which we are prescribed to use to estimate that traffic. That's all.
MS. PATIRE: So the empirical data, regardless whether you live in New Jersey or Ohio, it's the same number?
THE WITNESS: Correct.
MS. PATIRE: Correct.
THE WITNESS: Any other questions relative to trip generation or impact?
MR. WELLS: Keep going.
THE WITNESS: Okay, so I'm going to turn to parking now.
MR. MARTIN: Mr. Jahr, do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the 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: And you're an expert in the field of traffic engineering, correct?
MR. JAHR: Yes, sir.
MR. MARTIN: And parking as well?
MR. JAHR: Yes.
MR. MARTIN: Mr. WELLS, satisfied?
MR. WELLS: No, let's voir dire a little more, since we did a thorough voir dire in terms of just licenses and education and all the rest, if you want to have him testify.
MR. JAHR: Certainly.
MR. WELLS: Let's just make the record complete.
MR. JAHR: In order to make the record complete, understood. So, I'm a traffic consultant. I have been for 27 years. I have a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Rutgers University. I am a licensed Professional Transportation Planner and I'm a Traffic Signal Operation Specialist, both certifications by the Professional Transportation Board. I serve this board and I serve many other boards throughout the State of New Jersey and have done so for pretty much the last 27 years.
MR. MARTIN: So stipulated?
MR. WELLS: Fine. I just wanted to get all that on the record too.
MR. MARTIN: That's a good thing.
Go ahead, Mr. Jahr.
MR. JAHR: Certainly. And Mr. Disario, I don't want you to get to be done with traffic yet, I would like to make sure the record is clear on the traffic. You're about three quarters of the way through. I'm sure at this point just take a little break for everybody. I'm sure that the applicant and yourself are certainly feeling the frustration that the board has with traffic, notwithstanding the legal arguments, I understand that, I've read your letter and the board letter. Just for the sake of sensitivity, okay, the people that live here in Ridgewood and those of us who visit, there is a significant amount of frustration. That doesn't necessarily translate into a denial. We heard a lot of talk about denial. Okay. I think the point here is just to have, from my point of view, my board has been great and your questions are absolutely on track and they're very, very good. What you have to understand is there is significant frustration in the village because of traffic congestion. And it's not unfair and not unreasonable for the board to feel this frustration and share it with you. I can assure you, if you get this project approved and you build those units, all the people that live there are going to feel just like all these people. All right. It's frustrating. Only way that doesn't happen, maybe, as I have suggested, that we have a bona fide discussion about possible mitigation measures, if they're appropriate and if, as you've said
MR. WELLS: All right, let me just, here's where we got to stop here, and I know Mr. Disario invited it because he said ask questions during the middle of the testimony, but, Mr. Jahr, you just testified, you didn't ask any questions, you just gave an opinion, and that's okay, we're for all conversation, but we need to get his testimony in, and then if you have a question along the way, you can ask a question, and then by all means ask questions, and at some point, if you have a different opinion, testify. But it's getting, this is a crazy thing, because he's now just telling us what he thinks.
MR. MARTIN: He laid the foundation, now he's going to go into a question.
MR. WELLS: Good.
MR. JAHR: Thank you for helping that, and I apologize. MR. WELLS: That okay. I'm just saying, now ask questions.
MR. JAHR: Just to keep order and I think that was a good point for that piece of order. Just to keep order, I think that we can use a little more explanation on a couple of things and I'm going to try to help out with this. Your conservative numbers and your historical numbers and the historical information provided, I think everybody kind of lost there was kind of a loss there in some way. Could you please give us a little bit more explanation and maybe in an example form, all right, of what you mean when you say conservative numbers and maybe provide an example so the board understands what you at with that. I think that was kind of lost. And I think you should also try and include some of your discussion about the historical, I think that's also very important to understand what the traffic volumes are here, because, again, I do agree with Mr. Disario on this point, the numbers are essentially low.
MR. WELLS: Can I ask as a clarification, when you're talking about historical, you're saying like Brogan Cadillac and right now, the use of it?
MR. JAHR: Yes.
MR. WELLS: Those are relevant questions, I think it's understood.
MR. JAHR: I think they're important to understand top down. And I wouldn't want you to finish with traffic yet, because we also want you to talk about your recommendations included in your report, before we go to parking for traffic.
MR. MARTIN: Just to frame it, the historical numbers and what?
MR. JAHR: Conservative traffic volumes and historical numbers.
MR. MARTIN: Okay.
MR. JAHR: Those two to start with.
MR. MARTIN: Are you with us?
MR. DISARIO: I am.
MR. WELLS: Good. Thanks.
MR. DISARIO: In terms of conservative numbers, I've testified that we've estimated 28 more peak hour trips two way and 37 weekday peak hour trips two way that would be generated by this development. I believe those numbers are higher than what will actually occur, because some people that live in this development will not drive during those times, they'll walk. So the numbers are likely going to be less at the driveways than what we've estimated. So in terms of using the word "conservative," that's what I meant. In terms of historical activity at the site, it used to be a car dealership. I don't have estimates of what the car dealership would have generated, but I can tell you, and I'm sure if all of you lived here, which I'm sure many if not all of you have when Brogan was opened, it generated traffic in and out of the site during the morning, during the evening. So it would have been generating traffic, if it were open today. So if you look at a net difference between what Brogan generated and what we're proposing, it's probably even less than what we've accounted for in our study, because we've assumed that this site currently generates no traffic. What's occurring on the site right now, and I don't have the information, it was in a very old study which I didn't bring with me this evening, it was part of the rezoning process, we actually did count the existing traffic into and out of the site that's attributed to the commuter parking. I don't have exact numbers, John, maybe you have that very old report, but from what I recall, it was on the order of about 30 to 50 cars that park on the site right now that are commuters. So in the morning, you can have 30, 50 cars coming in, and in the evening you have those 30 to 50 cars leaving. So when you look at that difference compared to what's proposed versus what the site is currently generating, there's not going to be that big net difference to the road network as what my study suggests, because, again, we've assumed the site's generating nothing and we haven't done a comparison in terms of what Brogan used to generate.
MR. WELLS: Can I ask a question?
MR. DISARIO: Sure.
MR. WELLS: We haven't asked for credit for that, for the comparison of historical, but it's possible that there's literally more trips being generated by the present commuter parking lot than what we're asking for?
MR. DISARIO: It's possible, yes.
MR. WELLS: Thank you.
MAYOR KNUDSEN: Can I just jump in one second.
Except for the current use where there's commuter parking where you're talking about?
MR. DISARIO: Yes, right now
MAYOR KNUDSEN: On its busiest days, and I'm just throwing it out there because it's relevant, the busiest days of the week for that particular intersection would be Saturday and Sunday, because that's the restaurant, that's shopping, and Sunday mass let's out multiple times throughout the day and it's intense, but that location on Saturday and Sunday generates zero. So I just wanted to kind of make it clear, that that's not always the case, so just
MR. DISARIO: And I don't disagree with you, and the residents, if you're inclined to grant approval and the apartment building is built as proposed, a lot of those residents wouldn't drive to downtown, they would walk, which is a good thing. It's something that I think this board recognizes as a good planning tenet, and it's a good use in terms of land use, to locate residential development near Central Business Districts and mass transit.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Could I
MR. DISARIO: Let me just say one more thing, please, because John was kind enough to fish out a very old traffic study that we did that quantified the amount of commuter parking that was occurring. So, during the weekday morning peak hour, and let me just reference the study. It's a study entitled "Traffic Evaluation Proposed Residential Development, 150 S. Broad Street, Village of Ridgewood," last revised, November 22nd, I can't believe it has been this long, 2011. So as part of that study, we did count the driveways. And for the weekday morning peak hour, 42 vehicles came in and 20 left, for a total two way trips of 62. And during the weekday evening peak hour, 21 vehicles came in and 34 vehicles exited, for a total of two way trips of 55. So those are greater than what the proposed residential development would generate in terms of driveway volumes.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: You have a couple of tables in your report, Tables 3 and 4, that look at delays in the S. Broad, E. Ridgewood Avenue intersection.
MR. DISARIO: Yes.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: So just a couple, help me understand this. I mean, and go to Table four and take a look at it. As an example, you have the southbound direction and you have obviously you have a level of F and you have 134 seconds. What is that number?
MR. DISARIO: Correct, in the existing 2017 existing conditions.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: And so then in 2019, your projection is 245 seconds?
MR. DISARIO: Correct.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: So I want to make sure I understand, that's four minutes or more?
MR. DISARIO: Yes.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Okay.
And then if you build the multifamily housing, it goes to 339 seconds?
MR. DISARIO: Correct.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Okay. So just I'm doing simple math here, you said I want to give you a different interpretation. You said it's only one car, it's maybe three percent.
MR. WELLS: Ask him a question.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: One car, three percent. So I'm looking at the numbers here and I'm going, okay, well, you're increasing that intersection by 40 percent in time. Okay. So why wouldn't you be required to pay for that extra time that is required for people to stop, to stay there? You're saying three percent, I'm saying okay, it's got to be 40 percent. If we do something at an intersection, it's not three percent, it's 40 percent of whatever we do, from a cost standpoint.
MR. DISARIO: It's a very simple answer, and I mean no disrespect, so please don't take it that way. The issues at that intersection aren't caused by the proposed development, they're caused by the existing volumes at that intersection. So, if you wanted to identify an improvement at that intersection, and Mr. WELLS has made reference to discussions in the past of a signal at that location, that signal and the warranting of a signal is being driven by the existing volumes, not by the minimal amount of additional traffic that would be added by this development.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Well, I'm saying, so I'm not sure you're getting my point here.
MR. WELLS: He got it.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: You've increased that intersection by 100 seconds, based on putting your building there. These are your numbers, okay. You know, 339 minus 244 is about 100, and then, you know, the denominator is 244 seconds. So I'm looking at a 40 percent increase based on your development. So I'm saying, okay, well, if it's 40 percent, whatever is done to that intersection from a cost standpoint, the onus is on you for 40 percent of that cost, not three percent of the cost.
MR. WELLS: Except that's not how it's done. I understand what you're saying.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Frankly, I don't know how it's done.
MR. WELLS: Well, I do, and it's not.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: I'm concerned that, you know, you are essentially increasing the time at that intersection by 40 percent over what it currently would be.
MR. MARTIN: Mr. Voigt, Mr. Jahr might be able to assist in terms of that.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Okay.
MR. JAHR: You're slightly ahead of my line of questioning.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: Okay, sorry.
MR. JAHR: And what I would say is I'd like to go down this road a little bit later with Mr. Disario, because there's some more information that he will be able to share with the board. But I'd like to let him get through the traffic numbers, which I think we're pretty well done with, and I'd like to have him talk about his recommendations and conclusions, and then I'd like him to come back because I'd like to ask him some questions about how fair share is done.
MR. WELLS: I would really like that too. I think it would make our record better.
COUNCILMAN VOIGT: I just wanted that on the record.
MR. WELLS: No, I get it. I understand Mr. Disario invited questions in the middle and I appreciate that, but we're going past little clarification questions, but you need to get that in and then let's talk about that.
MR. JAHR: I'd like to have that discussion.
MR. MARTIN: Would you just approach for a second. I would like to speak to the Chair for just a second. (A sidebar discussion is held off the record.)
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Let's return to our seats. We're going to go back on the record. It's 10:00 p.m., and we're going to stop on this application right now and pick it up on April 4, 2017. And I guess that will be without further notice. You consent to it being carried to that date?
MR. WELLS: Yes, we do. We do. I would in all due respect to the board, and we understand your heavy schedule and the fact that there are a number of matters before you, and we certainly understand with MR. BRANCHEAU's imminent departure, there are other things you need to do tonight, but we would again request it be possible we be the only thing on the agenda so we can move on it efficiently. It's hard on board members when a lot of time goes by in between witnesses and so forth, so we'll try to get that done that night.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Sure.
Blais, did you have any questions for Mr. Disario at all?
MR. BRANCHEAU: I do not. The only questions I have are in the report, and so far I have no questions. I haven't heard the rest of his testimony, so there may be some as part of future testimony.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Okay. All right. So we're still on the cross of Mr. Disario, we'll pick up on that on April 4th, and it will start off with ending some of the traffic stuff and then continue with
MR. WELLS: I just want to correct the record. We're actually not in cross, we're in this wild direct, we're
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Right, invited cross.
MR. WELLS: Direct with invited midstream cross, so we'll get it organized and finished next time.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: All right. So you brought it upon yourself a little bit.
MR. DISARIO: So I would anticipate that the actual formal cross won't be that much.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: You never know.
MR. WELLS: It could be.
MR. DISARIO: Wishful thinking.
MR. WELLS: I'll say it on the record. We're inviting and encouraging Mr. Disario to talk with Mr. Jahr a little bit to maybe as much as possible
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Sure, that's always welcome.
MR. WELLS: to understand each other in terms of his concerns and what we can do during the time.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: And they can discuss it amongst themselves. We'll continue the direct, and after we conclude the direct, we'll move to the cross.
Okay. Thank you, Mr. Disario.
MR. WELLS: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN JOEL: Thank you, MR. WELLS.
MR. WELLS: Yes.
(Whereupon, this matter is continuing at a future date. Time noted: 10:02 p.m.)
Council Referral of Ordinance 3579: Regulation of Institutional Uses and Public Utilities – Mr. Brancheau explained the purpose of the referral, the ordinance, and reviewed his draft letter. Board members asked questions about the ordinance and approved Mr. Brancheau's letter without any changes.
Draft Ordinance Addressing Miscellaneous Recommendations in Reexamination Report and in Zoning Officer Memoranda – Mr. Brancheau discussed the handout he provided Board members with mark-ups. He reviewed the documents and discussed the fixes in the language. The Board approved the document with changes.
Adoption of Minutes: The minutes from September 1, 2015 were approved as written.
Executive Session – The Board moved to Executive Session at 11:22 p.m. returned and adjourned the meeting at 11:45 p.m.
Date approved: July 3, 2018
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