Saturday, July 16, 2016

Reality vs. Wishing on Trash and Parking

The "Telephone Building" on East Fourth Street may epitomize the dilemma discussed at Wednesday's Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting. The former commercial building takes up its entire lot, with no room for parking or large garbage and recycling bins. The answer here was to use wheeled carts like those used in residential neighborhoods, placed at the curb on collection day. The building has eight apartments, as indicated by the meters on the side. This is how the sidewalk looks when it's PMUA pickup day. Now imagine enough wheeled trash containers for 19 apartments outside the South Avenue site discussed Wednesday.

Regarding parking, the Telephone Building has eked out one handicapped accessible parking space at the rear of the building. For the rest, architect Jose Carballo suggested having tenants pay for parking in nearby municipal lots rather than have the developer pay. His reasoning was that some tenants might not have cars, so it was more fair to the developer to put the burden on those tenants who actually needed parking.

In the application heard Wednesday, 19 parking spaces were allotted for the eight 1-bedroom and 11 2-bedroom units. There will be bicycle racks in addition. The project is just outside a Transit Oriented Development zone, but will be "transit-targeted." Had it been within the quarter-mile radius around the Netherwood train station, no parking would have been required..

The Telephone Building plan was approved in 2013. The South Avenue project on the site of a former nursery will be taken up again in September. Though 19 apartments are proposed now, an earlier number was 26 apartments.

The apartment boom is on in Plainfield, like it or not. The assumption continues to be that people are using means other than cars to get around, but what is the reality? A working couple in my building owns four cars. I do not own a car, but sometimes wish I did, to get to places that public transit doesn't reach. A Facebook thread on troubles with taxis concludes that Uber is the solution, but is it? A tally of new apartments in August 2015 added up to 800. If it is possible, a look back at what was permitted and how things worked out might be useful.

Donna Albanese's remarks about parking issues with a South Avenue mosque made me look back at what had been proposed. The mosque application was approved after testimony that maybe ten people would initially attend Friday services, but more could come for special events  At any rate, the outer limit was supposed to be 52 attendees, based on parking at the site. Albanese described a much larger attendance that required use of extra parking. Naturally, she wants her lot to be mainly reserved for her customers.

Parking and trash removal are two necessities for renters. A survey could reveal strategies that work, the better to guide the land use boards on how closely allowable conditions match reality.



  1. Hopefully the xoning board and other agencies deny any building use that does not allow for adequate parking and trash storage. We don't need the apartments or business that desparately. We need out government and agencies to be responsible in this respect. It is difficult to find parking in too many parts of Plainfield as it is. We need to deman accountability in this matter.

  2. Seems like either too much or too little parking is unfortunately required. 1.2 spaces per unit would be resdonable near public transit.