NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The Borough Planning Board approved the variance application for Untied Brewing Company at its Tuesday, May 5 meeting. The company is looking to open a microbrewery at 140 Spring Street, the former Fabloc Mills building.
Untied Brewing Company was represented by Attorney William Harrison of Genova Burns LLC. The board heard testimonies from the owner of the brewery Matthew Green, Architect Karen Khalaf and Planner Christine Nazzaro-Cofone of Cofone Consulting Group, LLC.
The applicant was seeking two variances, one for parking and the other for the permitted floor area usage. The parking requirement for the site is 91 (or 90 as calculated by the borough planner), however there are only 89 parking spaces available. Both Green and Nazzaro-Cofone testified that due to the limited use of the parking lot by other businesses in the complex the parking availability will be adequate. Furthermore, the tasting room and the brewery tours will be busiest in the evenings when the employees of the other businesses are not using the lot.
The borough code permits retail as accessory use to be limited to 2,000 square feet or five percent of the gross floor area. The applicant proposed 1,684 square feet of retail accessory use in a 7,791 square feet floor space. This calculates to over 21 percent of the gross floor area. However, Nazzaro-Cofone testified that the microbrewery is in compliance with the borough’s master plan which calls for diversification of businesses in town.
Khalaf showed the board the proposed floor plan which includes the brewery, tasting room, small office space as well as a storage area. The space will also include a small retail area for t-shirt and mug sales. The tasting room will have seats for approximately 50 people, but the bar area will be standing room only. There will also be two bathrooms on the premises.
Khalaf explained that the only addition to the existing building is a new ADA-compliant exit door. The existing concrete block walls will be exposed except in the brewery area. The concrete block floors will be treated with heat resistant finish.
Green explained the brewery’s operational plan. The brewery hours for onsite consumption will not exceed the hours stipulated in the local ordinances for similar establishments. In fact, they are likely to be shorter, Green said. The grain deliveries are expected to take place on a weekly basis during regular business hours. Initially the brewery anticipates hiring one full-time employee and five part-time employees.
The establishment will only sell its own products and there will be no food service. However, the customers are allowed to bring their own food, but cannot order food into the premises. At first the brewery expects to produce 1,000 barrels of beer, and as the establishment takes a hold more, but doesn’t anticipate of exceeding 10,000 barrels annually.
Although the state license is still pending the brewery is planning to open its business to customers in the fall of 2018.
Only one resident, Kathy Rottenberg who lives near the proposed establishment, expressed her concern regarding potential overflow parking and increased traffic. She noted that the area has a lot of foot traffic since children have sports practices on the nearby Warner Field. Students at the Allen W. Roberts School also walk in the area, she said. She said that she is also worried about potential noise and odor from the establishment. She noted “that this piece of property has a history of noise and odor.” She also told the board that she had contacted the Board of Health which did not have any concerns regarding the proposed brewery.
Mayor Al Morgan noted that manufacturing industry is not coming back and the borough has to adjust to the new reality. He also agreed with Nazzaro-Cofone that the intent of the borough’s master plan is to enhance the area and make it more vibrant.
There is no negative aspect to retail business, Chairman Robert Lesnewich said.