BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Berkeley Heights Planning Board unanimously approved an application for the Tedesco Brothers to construct a parking lot behind their building on 613 Springfield Ave. The building is a two story structure with the first floor being used as a hair salon and the second floor being used for office purposes, according to project engineer Thomas Murphy. The approved parking lot is 11 square feet over the required lot area as allowed by the town's zoning laws.

The proposed lot will have eleven parking spaces in the rear with one handicapped stall in the front of the building. The spaces will be 8 feet in length from front to back, according to Murphy. "Basically the Tedescos want to do what they feel is necessary by improving the property with the intention to install a parking lot," Murphy said.

There are also plans to add lights with the addition of the parking structure. Murphy proposed that there be two 12 foot light poles in the lot and another light in front of the building that will shine down on the handicapped space. The proposal for a light in the front of the building is because that section of Springfield Avenue does not have street lights on the side of the street the building is on, according to Murphy.

It was discussed that both the hair salon, called Cuts For Kids, and the office on the second floor would be used from about 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. like a normal business and lights would be turned off shortly after staff members leave the building. The neighboring properties will be significantly blocked from the lights because there will be landscaped plants on the rear and side of the parking lot that will serve to block the lights and act as a fence barrier for the property, according to Murphy.

Another item discussed was the driveway that will serve as the entrance to the lot in front of the building. The driveway will be used as means for two way traffic and meets the zoning requirements in terms of its width. The sidewalk in front of the building will be removed for the construction of the driveway. Murphy also mentioned that there will be an underground tension system underneath the lot to serve as a drainage run off for water management.

John Tedesco, a Berkeley Heights resident for 17 years, testified that there are two garbage disposals that will be located on the side of the lot and will not be visible from the street. He also said that there will be pavers installed in the front of the building. "Most Berkeley Heights buildings have no lots which makes the accessibility of them difficult," Tedesco said. "I am trying to do the right thing and make the town even better."

Members of the Berkeley Heights Planning Board offered their take on the project. Board President Michael Einbinder was in favor of the application and was satisfied that other variances concerning the construction of the lot, lights, and landscaping were being met. "It seems like a beneficial application for Berkeley Heights...It's very helpful for the town," Einbinder said.

Councilman Hall said that a project like this sets a precedent for the town's downtown area, gives value to the property itself and will give value down the road if other modifications are made to the building.