Friday, July 15, 2016

Trash and Parking Issues Delay Project Approval

Two hours of testimony Wednesday were not enough to resolve Zoning Board questions on a 19-unit new building on South Avenue, so the application will continue on Sept. 7.

The applicant, 1369-1403 South Avenue LLC, intends to build on the former site of a plant nursery next to the Dairy Queen. Four retail spaces are proposed (in blue on image above}and the plan calls for 26 parking stalls, 12 at the rear and 14 under the structure at ground level. Seven spaces are allotted for the stores and the rest for the eight 1-bedroom and 11 2-bedroom units.
Architect James Guerra describes the design.
Because the design will not allow PMUA trucks to access the rear, the developer proposed an indoor trash chute to be emptied by a superintendent and placed in large PMUA carts at the curb on collection days.

Regarding parking, the applicant tried but failed to get permission from the Dairy Queen and Fine Fare to allow any use of their lots. There is no parking on South Avenue.

In public comment, Dairy Queen owner Donna Albanese said, "Wow - where are the cars going to park? In my lot!"

Albanese said an Islamic Community Center that opened nearby asked to use her lot for parking when the center holds large events and it also uses two nearby vacant lots with someone directing traffic. The vacant lots are part of a site designated for future construction of 212 rental units.

But she said 95 percent of her customers drive to the Dairy Queen and a new coffee shop that just signed a lease to open next door will also need her lot.

"Parking is already a big problem in Plainfield," she said.

The proposed development is just outside the Transit-Oriented Development zone around the Netherwood train station. Planner John McDonough called it "transit-targeted," meaning it would be appealing to tenants who will not likely have cars, but will largely rely on public transit to get around. If the project was within the TOD-N zone, the parking requirement would be zero, he said.

Also in public comment, Ron Scott Bey said, "I think that's a lot of building for a small space."

On parking, he said, "My experience has been two bedrooms, two cars."

Deputy City Administrator for Economic Development Carlos Sanchez also commented, noting the parking problem but saying, "The reality is, we have an empty lot."

He said the project had already undergone multiple reviews by the Planning Division's Technical Review Committee and urged the board to render a decision.

But when members were polled, Charles McRae said the building was too big for the space and he could envision "blue and green cans overflowing with garbage" out front. Rich Sudol also had similar views.

"Trash is definitely an issue," he said, and called parking "a constant issue."

Robert Graham also mentioned trash and parking.

Mary Burgwinkle said as a 34-year resident she was thrilled to have someone interested in investing, but the design left her with a "feeling of claustrophobia." Regarding trash, she questioned how recycling would be handled. Jim Spear spoke of a need for compromises, but said apartment complexes need to conform to parking requirements. He felt the trash issue was "secondary."

Alex Ruiz said, "Parking is key," and also felt garbage could bring rats and odors. But he said, "There's always a way to fix this."

With that, the board agreed to adjourn the case to September 7.  The meeting will start at 7 p.m. in City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Ave.




  2. Are you sure there is no parking on South Ave at that point? People used to run into the bumpouts by passing on the right because there wasn't enough curb side parking taking up that lane -- it isn't a travel lane...

  3. When will someone start looking at the one and two family homes housing four and five families? Talk about trash.

  4. I hope the Planning Board keeps in mind how bad the parking is getting in Plainfield and won't give the go-ahead if there are not two parking spots for two bedroom apartments. Often you need two parking spaces for a couple renting a one bedroom apartment. I don't buy the public transportation angel they are trying to push here. We need to turn down plans that do not allow adequate parking. Too many have already gone through without adequate parking.

    1. This is a Zoning Board issue not the Planning Board. If this was before the Planning Board, I think they would be asking for more commercial space and maybe 6 two bedroom apartments.

  5. How will recycling be handled? To be honest the City should say "Mixed with regular garbage like it already is all over town"

  6. Greedy developers. We need retail business not more apartments on South Ave. Why do developers want to put up apartments with not enough parking or no room for fire trucks or garbage trucks? We are suppose to have 2 parking spaces per unit and a few for guests. Look at the Senior Center and the condos. Seniors can find a place to park,the Mayor has a meeting at the Senior Center and there is no place to park,and the Senior bus can not park in the back where there is cover because the developer took short cuts. Plainfield does not need any more APARTMENTS! South Avenue is going to be one hot mess in the winter when those new apartments go up and they can not find a place to park,and their guests have to walk several blocks to visit them. Ask the next developer if he would live in one of his units and how much money they donated to the local political campaign funds. Plain fielders need to go more often to the Planning and Zoning board meetings to find out what is going on in their back yard,because before you know it you could have apartments or worse,a loud business being built next door in your peaceful neighborhood that you have worked hard to own. MTP

  7. I say that developer need to not come back to Plainfield. How stupid is he to want this build apartments that a fire,garbage,or moving van truck can not get around? Why would the business next door want to let people park is n their lot who pays rent to that apartment owner? We all now that many developers in Plainfield have lied about compensation payments to pay for parking spaces and maintenance that is envolved in keeping up a parking lot.

  8. Plainfield is heading in the wrong direction far to many apartment buildings in such a condense area. hot mess is right.

  9. It looks great but is poorly designed for the site and functionality. Sometimes you simply have to look people in the face and say, try again and don't make the same mistakes the next time.