The following minutes are a summary of the Planning Board meeting of April 1, 2014. For more detailed information, interested parties may request an audio recording of the meeting from the Board Secretary for a fee.
Call to Order & Statement of Compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act: Chairman Nalbantian called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. The following members were present: Mayor Aronsohn, Ms. Bigos, Chairman Nalbantian, Mr. Joel, Mr. Hurley, Mr. Reilly, Ms. Dockray, and Ms. Peters. Also present were: Gail Price, Esq., Board Attorney; Blais Brancheau, Village Planner, and Chris Rutishauser, Village Engineer. Councilman Pucciarelli is recused from the hearing regarding the Master Plan amendment for the AH-2, B-3-R, C-R and C-zone districts and was absent from the meeting.
Public Comments on Topics not Pending Before the Board – There were no comments at this time.
Correspondence received by the Board – Mr. Rutishauser said there was none.
Public Hearing on Amendment to the Land Use Plan Element of the Master Plan – AH-2, B-3-R, C-R & C Zone Districts – Mr. Bruinooge, attorney representing 257 Ridgewood Avenue, LLC, withdrew his request from the previous meeting to strike the testimony of Ms. Bogart, planner for Citizens for a Better Ridgewood (C.B.R.), reserving his client’s rights to request to resubmit the request at a later time. Daniel Steinhagen, from the law firm of Beattie Padavano, LLC, was present on behalf of C.B.R. and stated that they had no response to Mr. Bruinooge’s motion at this time.
Mr. Wells introduced Exhibit D-5, entitled “Supplemental Review of Types of Multifamily Developments”, prepared by Peter Steck, P.P. and dated March 31, 2014. Mr. Steck described the exhibit as a classification of several buildings as garden apartments with respect to statistics shown in his December 26, 2013 Planning Evaluation concerning “The Dayton” multifamily project. Mr. Steck said he prepared this supplemental review in response to Board questions at the previous meeting.
The Board members continued with their questions for Mr. Burgis, Mr. Steck and Ms. Bogart. The Board members asked Mr. Burgis if he had census data supporting his testimony that seniors and empty-nesters are underserved by multifamily housing. Mr. Burgis said that he did not have census data but that the information came from discussions with a number of developers who he has represented throughout northern New Jersey. Board members asked Mr. Burgis about his testimony regarding the wide range of housing types referred to in the Village Master Plan. Mr. Burgis said the master plan did not specifically mention high density multifamily housing but a range of housing types. Board members said that the 1983 Master Plan referred to a questionnaire given to residents that showed that the majority preferred low density housing. Mr. Burgis stated that the master plan still recommends a range of housing types and conditions have changed since 1983.
The Board members had questions regarding Mr. Burgis’ testimony related to school impact and what data he used. Mr. Burgis referred to a table provided by Mr. Brancheau. Mr. Burgis explained that he looked at the number of school children that come from three-story, four-story and five-story buildings compared to garden apartments. Mr. Burgis said he would provide the documents that support his testimony as a supplement to his report. The Board members also asked about the fiscal impact analysis and how that would be affected if the projected number of students was under-estimated. Mr. Burgis explained that he looked at the average cost rather than in a strict per capita basis.
The Board members asked questions regarding testimony from Mr. Burgis regarding his estimate of retail expenditures in the downtown which he based on Bureau of Labor statistics, and if the household size he used was an overestimate. Mr. Burgis said the estimated household size may have been high but it would not make a dramatic difference in total retail expenditures.
The Board members asked for clarification regarding the height difference across the railroad tracks from the Chestnut Village property and the heights of the surrounding buildings.
Concerning the Enclave proposal, Board members asked Mr. Burgis if the proposal had insufficient parking, and how much of the 30,000 sq. ft. commercial floor area in the proposal already exists.
The Board members asked Mr. Burgis if he checked the statistics mentioned in his report from the 2000 Housing Element of the Master Plan, that household size is shrinking and aging of the population, against the 2010 census. Mr. Burgis said he had checked and that it was continually shrinking, but he didn’t have the exact figures. Mr. Brancheau said that he had the statistics from the last five decades and that between 2000 and 2010 there was a slight increase of 0.05 persons per household.
The Board members had questions regarding the traffic impact and Mr. Burgis explained that his testimony refers to the proximity of the proposed development to public transportation and by virtue of it being close to the train station, there will be some decrease in the number of trips that you would otherwise expect from this size project. Additional questions related to the number of stories in the proposals and the street frontage of the properties.
The Board members asked Ms. Bogart about her testimony regarding spot zoning and under-utilized or vacant properties. Ms. Bogart said that when you look at designated zone you want to make sure that you're creating a zone boundary that will complement the development patterns across the street and the adjacent zone district.
The Board members asked Ms. Bogart regarding her testimony related to parking deficiencies in the CBD and the suggestion that underutilized or vacant properties could be a solution to that parking problem. The Board members asked if the proposed projects should be required to meet the RSIS standards regarding parking. Ms. Bogart said that is correct.
The Board members had concerns that if the proposed master plan amendment is approved there may be a “domino effect” and overdevelopment. Mr. Steck said that there is always a preference for policy to be established through legislative action rather than a variance, and that it is more predictive to have a deliberative process that has a comprehensive master plan study and action by the governing body. Mr. Burgis said that the master plan should explain the reasons that these particular sites were selected. Ms. Bogart said that her main concern is that zone boundaries are clearly and rationally determined, since there are a lot of sites that are very similar and that these types of development could also possibly occur there. Ms. Bogart said the Village should be prudent in their planning analysis to determine exactly the boundaries of the district, the densities that that are being proposed, making sure that all this works before moving forward.
The Board members asked what the planners thought about phasing the amended zoning, or phasing the density over a period of years. Mr. Steck said that from the point of view of K&K Developers and the Dayton project, waiting a couple years to develop an underdeveloped site would be a lost opportunity, the property may get developed with something else. Mr. Steck said the Village should zone what they think is appropriate now. Regarding density, the affordable housing component is an issue and that lowering the density too much essentially says no to the project. Mr. Burgis said that the Board is going about the process in the right way by making a comprehensive assessment of what the Village needs and what is appropriate. Mr. Burgis also said that the COAH obligation needs to be considered. Ms. Bogart said a comprehensive study is needed to determine how the sites can affect the CBD and what happens if the entire district is redeveloped. Ms. Bogart said the Board’s duty is to look at the development impacts and that it may make sense to have the sites rezoned, but at a slightly lower density.
The Board members asked for clarification regarding COAH regulations and if a town’s obligation grows if more apartments are permitted downtown. Mr. Burgis explained that the court overturned the third round rules which used the growth share methodology and directed them to use the fair share methodology which means a municipality’s obligation would be based on various indices, including what the population is in relation to the population of the housing region. Mr. Burgis and Mr. Steck explained what that would mean for a town like Ridgewood.
The Board members asked if it would make sense to establish a numerical limit, based on the overall housing stock, on the number apartments. Mr. Steck said that wouldn’t be realistic and the Board should focus on the properties suitable for development. Mr. Burgis said the Board needs to be very definitive in why these sites were selected.
The Board members asked about the market for housing near train tracks. Mr. Steck and Mr. Burgis said that there is a lot of activity by train stations and that modern construction can minimize the impact of the noise of the rail line. Mr. Burgis gave examples of successful developments in Ramsey and Allendale near the train tracks. Ms. Bogart agreed that there is a market for developments near the train, but that the question is what rents can be obtained for those units. The Board members asked if this was the best type of housing in these locations considering the demographics of Ridgewood. Mr. Steck and Mr. Burgis both explained that the site configurations and locations dictated the kind of development that is most appropriate for the sites. Ms. Bogart said there were two separate issues, what type of unit is most appropriate for the sites, and what the most appropriate type of housing is for the Village given the existing characteristics. Ms. Bogart said that her concern is that in a wealthy community like Ridgewood empty nesters won’t want to move from a large home to a one or two bedroom apartment with no outdoor area.
The planners were asked what effect the North Walnut Street Redevelopment Plan would have on the proposed projects. The planners were not familiar with the redevelopment plan.
Ms. Price asked each of the planners to address the difference between zoning by variance versus the process that the Board is going through and which process they feel is more appropriate for projects like the ones being proposed. Mr. Burgis said he believes the master plan process is the way to examine the properties being discussed as it is more comprehensive. Mr. Steck and Ms. Bogart agreed. Ms. Price had a question regarding putting specific standards into the master plan document. Ms. Bogart said that specific details with regard to the property and the site selection analysis should be in the master plan document, but that the details of the proposal as far as height, FAR, setbacks, etc. should be in the ordinance. Mr. Brancheau asked if the details are worked out why they shouldn’t go in the master plan so as to make it clear to the governing body and the Board of Adjustment what the intent is. Ms. Bogart agreed.
There were no further questions from the Board members or professionals.
Mr. Wells reminded the Board that the architect’s testimony will be related to what could be done on The Dayton site consistent with the master plan amendment being considered. Mr. Wells said that there would be specific criteria included in the testimony but not the details that would be included in a site plan review. Mr. Wells introduced Lawrence Appel as the architect for The Dayton. Mr. Appel was sworn by Ms. Price and his credentials as an expert were accepted by the Board.
Ms. Price said that while the Board would be receiving architectural testimony, their questions for the architects should be generic in nature and relate to the master plan amendment that is pending.
Mr. Appel prepared a Power Point presentation which was marked as Exhibit D-6. Mr. Appel went through is presentation describing the existing conditions of the former Brogan Cadillac site and describing what they propose for the site. Mr. Appel showed photos of various buildings in the area and how the architectural style for The Dayton was taken from those buildings. Mr. Appel explained how they looked at the various heights of other structures nearby and in other locations downtown. Mr. Appel explained the different evolutions the project went through due to input from the Board and from exploring the buildings and architecture downtown. Mr. Appel showed how the proposed development would range in height from 29 feet to 57 feet at the front façade, and beyond that the highest point would be 62 feet and 4 inches due to the roof line and the architecture. Mr. Appel showed renderings of The Dayton and how it would look from various points of view.
Mr. Wells introduced Mr. Peter Wells as the architect for Chestnut Village. Mr. Peter Wells was sworn by Ms. Price and his credentials as an expert were accepted by the Board. Mr. Wells prepared a PowerPoint presentation which was marked as Exhibit CV-5. Mr. Wells described the existing conditions on the former site of the inspection station, which has been demolished. Mr. Wells explained how the architecture of the proposed Chestnut Village development differed from The Dayton in that different architectural styles of the downtown were used and because of the location. Mr. Wells said he took the architectural style from the Renaissance Revival period and the Colonial Revival period and was able to accomplish a building that works between the downtown and the residential neighborhood. Mr. Wells showed photos from the buildings around the downtown that he used when designing Chestnut Village. Mr. Wells said the height of Chestnut Village would be 53 feet with some architectural details that would be higher than that. Mr. Wells described the neighboring buildings and showed renderings of Chestnut Village from various perspectives. Mr. Wells explained that the lower portion of the building is six townhouses, two stories in height, with an apartment loft set back. Mr. Wells said the building would be only four stories in height with the parking tucked in the building and behind the townhouses. Mr. Wells described the apartments and how Chestnut Village would attract the single young professionals, young married couples and empty-nesters.
Chairman Nalbantian said that the architect for The Enclave would testify at the next meeting.
The hearing was carried to April 15, 2014 for scheduling.
11:05 p.m. – Resolution of Approval – Cerf Amended Subdivision; 436, 440, 448 Farview Street, Block 1702, Lots 21.01, 22.01, 22.02 – The resolution was adopted as drafted.
The meeting was adjourned at 11.10 P.M.
Date approved: February 19, 2015
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