NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Despite concerns about parking, city officials Monday approved plans for a building with three ground-floor stores and three apartments above them on a vacant lot at Somerset Street about two blocks from the city high school.

Planning board members unanimously approved plans for the two-story building at 938 Somerset St. The structure will face Somerset Street, which is also busy Route. 27, at the corner of Henry Street. On the second floor will be two 2-bedroom apartments and a single 1-bedroom unit.

Plans include a parking lot behind the building, with 15 parking spaces, eight less than the 23 spaces required under city ordinances.

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James Clarkin, a lawyer representing the developer, Prestiage Homes LLC, told board members that apartments tenants would be out during the day, leaving more parking for stores, and the stores would be closed at night, allowing parking for the residents. Clarkin also presented details about parking available along Henry Street.

 After planning board members said restaurants would increase the need for parking spaces, Clarkin said the developer would not have any eateries in the stores, not even a coffee shop.

Still, residents said parking was already limited on Henry Street, and the area is already congested.

"Everything is building, building, building. We would prefer to have a green area," said one resident, her comments drawing words of agreement from the several other residents at the meeting.

Board members noted the developer made concessions.

"I appreciate that the applicant is making compromises, and we need to have progress (in New Brunswick)," said city Councilwoman Suzanne Scoria Ludwig, who is a member of the planning board.

As part of the approval, the board included that conditions that no restaurant is permitted in the stores, and that if the city ever requires street parking permits for residents in the neighborhood, tenants in the apartment will be prohibited from seeking a permit.