Planning Board Public Meeting Minutes 20140107


The following minutes are a summary of the Planning Board meeting of January 7, 2014. For more detailed information, interested parties may request an audio cassette recording of the meeting from the Board Secretary for a fee.
Call to Order & Statement of Compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act: Chairman Nalbantian called the meeting to order at 8:13 P.M. The following members were present: Mayor Aronsohn, Ms. Bigos, Mr. Nalbantian, Mr. Hurley, Mr. Joel, Mr. Grant, Ms. Dockray, Ms. Peters and Ms. Connors. Also present were: Gail Price, Esq., Board Attorney; Blais Brancheau, Village Planner; Christopher Rutishauser, Village Engineer and Jane Wondergem, Board Secretary. Councilman Pucciarelli is recused from this hearing. Mr. Reilly was absent.
Correspondence received by the Board – Ms. Wondergem said the Board received correspondence from Charles Sarlo, Esq., stating that Dinallo Construction withdrew their application. The Board received a letter from the Historic Preservation Commission regarding expansion of the downtown Historic District.
Public Comment on topics not pending before the Board – No one came forward at this time.
Public Hearing on Amendment to the Land Use Plan Element of the Master Plan – AH-2, B-3-R, C-R & C Zone Districts – Chairman Nalbantian provided background and an overview of the meeting procedures and rules.
Tom Wells entered his appearance on behalf of Chestnut Village and the Dayton project.
Thomas Bruinooge entered his appearance on behalf of The Enclave project.
Ira Weiner entered his appearance on behalf of the Citizens for a Better Ridgewood (C.B.R.) and proceeded with his opening statement. Mr. Weiner said that his clients want to participate in the proceedings as contributors, not as objectors. Their main concern is that the Board takes a global view of what is being proposed. Mr. Weiner said the things the Board needs to consider to make an intelligent decision include: affordable housing and getting the information regarding the COAH obligation; a full build-out analysis assuming full redevelopment of properties being rezoned; a demographic study to determine if the potential occupants of the proposed housing are going to move into the units.
Mr. Weiner said the key concerns of C.B.R. include: having a comprehensive traffic study of the entire area, parking, impact on open space, impact on the schools, aesthetic impact of the height, high density and retail vacancies due to business owners moving to the new developments.
Mr. Weiner said that the Board should consider capping the density and consider the maximum parking capacity. The Board should also consider that other developers will want to build 55’ tall high density structures elsewhere in town. Mr. Weiner said the Board should take an incremental approach and approve one project and see how it impacts the area. Mr. Weiner said the Board needs to look at the applications realistically and keep in mind that the planners and traffic experts are representing their clients. Mr. Weiner stated, in summary, that the Board should commission additional studies.
8:54 p.m. - The Board opened the meeting to the public for comment.
Francis Schott, 133 Highland Avenue, was sworn. Mr. Schott said his concerns were regarding the adequacy of both the schools and recreational space in the face of a proposed large increase in apartments and population. Mr. Schott showed a chart, Population and Public School Enrollment 2000-2013, which illustrated the increase in enrollment over the years and said that trend would be likely to accelerate if a large number of apartments became available in Ridgewood.
Edward Martin Walker, 114 Cottage Place, was sworn. Mr. Walker said he wanted all high density housing to be only for age 55 and older and by doing that the Village could shift the demographic ratio of taxpayers to tax consumers.
Dave Slomin, 36 Heights Road, was sworn. Mr. Slomin said he has been in the multifamily apartment business for many years and he knows that the developers are gambling with the Village and the proposed densities are too high. Mr. Slomin said that the experts hired by the developers cannot be trusted and the Board should make decisions based on their own reports.
Linda Bowden, 125 North Walnut Street, was sworn. Ms. Bowden said her main concern is traffic and the impact of hundreds of apartment units and additional cars to the already congested downtown area. Ms. Bowden asked why the Board is rushing into this without a comprehensive traffic analysis similar to what was done in Montvale.
Lee Warren, 140 Washington Place, was sworn. Ms. Warren said she is a teacher and is concerned about the potential increase in class size and the lack of field space.
Kathryn Schmidt, 123 South Irving Street, was sworn. Ms. Schmidt said it would be prudent to start with one development, evaluate the benefits and potential disadvantages, and then decide how to move forward. Ms. Schmidt said zoning should not be done based on variances and that a survey of the residents should be done.
Marc Chase, 429 Farview Street, was sworn. Mr. Chase said his concern is school capacity. Mr. Chase said that he is a real estate investor and that it is common practice to build and then come back and ask for some type of tax consideration. He said that developers ask for the extraordinary when the intent is for something much less.
Kim Bangash, 208 Crest Road, was sworn. Mr. Bangash said that the testimony and studies from the applicants’ experts could be biased and asked that the Village officials and experts also testify.
Kieran Doyle, 330 Franklin Avenue, was sworn. Mr. Doyle recommended that the Board watch a program called ‘Designing Healthy Communities’. Mr. Doyle said that development is not always bad and that slight modifications to a plan for a new development can have a profound impact on the outcome. Mr. Doyle said that much could be gained from a community planner.
Craig Moore, 620 Waverly Road, was sworn. Mr. Moore said he is opposed to the current proposal to amend the Master Plan because the negatives outweigh the benefits. His main concern is the increase in school children and the increase and cost of educating special needs students.
Patricia Kruger, 184 Bellair Road, was sworn. Ms. Kruger is opposed to the proposed Master Plan amendment due to the increase in total population and because of the increased demand on the water supply.
James Bombace, 686 Midwood Road, was sworn. Mr. Bombace said that he understands the need for apartments and low income housing but that the Board should be concerned about the density of the proposed developments. Mr. Bombace said that he fits the demographic and that he would not downsize to an apartment, he would want to stay in the real estate market.
Peter Cahill, 5 Anna Lane, Wyckoff, was sworn. Mr. Cahill said he owns property in town and is a real estate developer and investor. Mr. Cahill said that he has always had to show the Boards that a variance request was for the betterment of the Village and that the proposed amendment is not for the public good.
James Pfeiffer, 334 Fairway Road, was sworn. Mr. Pfeiffer said that if nothing is going to be done to help the parking, the traffic and the taxes, then do not do it.
John Bonfiglio, 237 Waiku Road, was sworn. Mr. Bonfiglio said he is opposed to the amendment due to the density and because it will change the nature of the town.
Amy Junger, 33 Sherwood Road, was sworn. Ms. Junger said she agrees that progress needs to be shown regarding affordable housing and that developed space is better than vacant space but that the proposed changes are too drastic. Ms. Junger is concerned about the impact of the proposed developments on the traffic, parking, property values, taxes, crime rates and the school system.
Jeff Goldberg, 292 Madison Place, was sworn. Mr. Goldberg said he had many of the same concerns and suggested trying one development rather than four. Mr. Goldberg said it appears the Board is putting the needs and requirements of the developers ahead of those of the citizens.
Amy Biersdorf, 50 South Murray Avenue, was sworn. Ms. Biersdorf said her main concern was the impact on the schools and the capacity of the sports fields.
Robert Kotch, 60 North Hillside Place, was sworn. Mr. Kotch is opposed to more residential development in Ridgewood as it would be a net tax negative in the long run. Mr. Kotch said his recommendation would be to rezone for commercial in terms of open space and recreational use. Mr. Kotch questioned Mr. Pucciarelli’ s recusal from these hearings and the vetting process. Ms. Price explained the process.
Jodi Irwin, 340 Godwin Avenue, was sworn. Ms. Irwin said she is opposed to the proposed amendment due to the height of the proposed developments. Ms. Irwin is also concerned about the impact on the schools, the 2% cap on the budget and the capital expenditures.
Greg Ricca, 42 Heights Road, was sworn. Mr. Ricca said that he and his wife moved back to Ridgewood as empty nesters and he does not agree that people will want to retire to apartments. Mr. Ricca said the density levels should be appropriate for the needs of the town.
Brian Abdoo, 308 West Ridgewood Avenue, was sworn. Mr. Abdoo said that although the design of the proposed developments is attractive, they do not belong in Ridgewood due to their size. Mr. Abdoo referred to a Master Plan survey that was done on open space in 2007 in which many residents said they live in Ridgewood because of the schools and the small town atmosphere. Mr. Abdoo suggested the developers propose over 55 housing units.
Lisa Baney, 136 Brookside Avenue, was sworn. Ms. Baney said she is opposed to urbanization. Ms. Baney is concerned about the traffic impact.
Kelly Ahern, 434 Spring Avenue, was sworn. Ms. Ahern said she is concerned with the influx of people, whether or not it is for age 55 and up. Ms. Ahern is concerned with the impact on the schools.
Andrea Stoehr, 139 North Walnut Street, was sworn. Ms. Stoehr asked the Board to keep the Master Plan as it is and have the applicants come back with a development that stays within the restrictions.
Christine Rusch, 87 California Street, was sworn. Ms. Rusch said any development should retain the spirit of the current Master Plan and the zoning laws were designed to protect the residents and the community. Ms. Rusch said over-development should be restricted.
Jim McCarthy, 384 Hamilton Road, was sworn. Mr. McCarthy said the municipal ordinance that allows private applications for Master Plan amendments should be repealed. Mr. McCarthy said commercial development would be preferable and that the applicants are giving biased projections. Mr. McCarthy asked for a show of hands of those opposed to the amendment and Chairman Nalbantian said that was out of order.
Lorraine Reynolds, 550 Wyndemere Avenue, was sworn. Ms. Reynolds said she and her husband own rental property near the train station and when a one bedroom apartment with one parking spot was available she found that no matter who inquired about it, there was one car per adult that called. Ms. Reynolds said this contradicts what the developers say about who will live in the proposed developments.
Felicia Angus, 82 Fairmount Road, was sworn. Ms. Angus said she was concerned about the impact on the schools and the fiscal impact. Ms. Angus said that the proposed housing would not support the CBD and does not agree that the proposed amendment is in the public interest.
Ann Marie Agnello, 31 Clinton Avenue, was sworn. Ms. Agnello said she moved to Ridgewood because of the schools and stays because she loves Ridgewood and would not move to an apartment from her home, she would move to a smaller home.  Ms. Agnello said the proposed developments would impact the quality of education.
Eva Smith, 239 Woodside Avenue, was sworn. Ms. Smith said she is a saleswoman and a parent of a special needs child. Ms. Smith asked the Board to conduct their own objective research. Ms. Smith said one in eighty-eight children in New Jersey are on the autism spectrum and one in six children in New Jersey are special needs and that the proposed developments will attract parents looking for the services that Ridgewood schools provide.
Alex VonSummer, 241 Fairmount Road, was sworn. Mr. VonSummer said the Board needs to balance the needs of the developers and the needs of the community. Mr. VonSummer said that as a former resident of the Oak Street apartments he knows the proposed developments will attract families with children.
Becky Simpson, 223 Glenwood Road, was sworn. Ms. Simpson said she is a parishioner of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and had concerns about traffic and safety in the CBD.
Dana Glazer, 61 Clinton Avenue, was sworn. Mr. Glazer said his family moved to Ridgewood for the schools and that not one person who spoke was in favor of the proposed amendment.
Leonard Diamond, 131 Cottage Place, was sworn. Mr. Diamond asked why he was being sworn. Chairman Nalbantian explained that the statements being given are subject to cross examination and part of the record. Mr. Diamond said the Board has failed in understanding the needs of the Village and is allowing the agenda to be pushed by the developers. Mr. Diamond said the developments would need to be restricted to one bedroom apartments and restrict the parking to minimize car ownership. Mr. Diamond said the Board should require LEED certification and require ZIP cars to be available to the residents of the units. Mr. Diamond said that an applicant in Montclair is working with the town regarding a Transit Oriented Development and that should be considered in Ridgewood.
Chairman Nalbantian explained that the process is just beginning and that residents should come listen to testimony and ask questions.
Chairman Nalbantian announced that the hearing would continue on February 4 at the Ridgewood High School Student Center at 7:30 p.m.
10:47 p.m. – Reaffirmation for 2014 – Designation of Village Planner as Officer re: Completeness Determination of Development Applications – The Board voted to authorize the Village Planner as the officer regarding completeness determination of development applications.
10:51 p.m. – Discussion re: Completeness determination re: World Mission Society, Church of God – Mr. Brancheau explained that the applicant withdrew their prior application and submitted a new application for work which was already completed. Mr. Brancheau said the application was determined to be incomplete and he went over his completeness report with the Board.
10:55 p.m. – Approval of Minutes – The minutes from July 16, 2013 were approved as drafted. The minutes from July 30, 2013 were approved as drafted. The minutes from August 20, 2013 were approved as drafted.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:00 p.m.
        Respectfully submitted,
        Jane Wondergem
        Board Secretary

Date Approved: July 15, 2014

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