CRANFORD – It was expected that the August 1st Planning Board meeting regarding the Hartz Mountain application for 750 Walnut would see testimony from the civil and traffic engineers.

Due to time constraints, only the civil engineer, Jeffrey Martell, presented to the board. Hartz Mountain’s application for 750 Walnut includes changing the zone from commercial to residential, which will consist of the construction of seven buildings, featuring five apartment complexes that total 905 total units and two clubhouse and pool areas, built over two phases.

Martell presented site design plans that included parking, tree removal and new trees to be planted, an emergency road behind the apartment building, and storm drainage, among others.

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Though the number has changed throughout the planning process, Martell said there would be 1,775 parking spaces between parking garages and parking lots. The Cranford ordinance states parking spaces must be 10-feet wide by 18-feet deep, but Martell’s design calls for 9x18. Martell stated he was aware of the town ordinance, but went by the state requirement, and is “requesting consideration of the set of standards.”

Along with the 10x18 standard, the Cranford ordinance calls for a “break” ever 12 consecutive spaces. The plan presented did not fully comply, but according to Martell, about “60 to 70%” does. With the problems of being short a foot and a portion of the land not complying with the break every 12 spaces, the question of “Is this plan feasible with 10-feet wide spaces and breaks,” was addressed by the board. Martell mentioned of the possibility of adding another parking garage, which raised more questions about density and lack of “green space.”

Martell showed a design for a road that runs behind the apartment complexes that would be designated for emergency vehicles such as fire trucks and ambulances, but also for delivery trucks and school busses (Picture 2). Mayor Hannen asked the distance between the road and the building, to which Martell answered “about 15 feet.” Hannen then questioned, “When you were doing your design, did you do any calculations for a ladder truck and the angle of exposure that would be required for a ladder truck to be able to reach two or three-stories?” Martell said he did not.

Another concern raised by the board was in regards to trash and snow removal. The design presented showed no designated areas for such activity. Martell said his understanding in regards to trash is that there are “chutes and compactors (in the interior) and then it’s put on carts and rolled out by the people who operate the building.” Hannen followed-up by saying that doesn’t answer where the trash is then placed, to which no definitive answer was given.

In regards to snow removal and placement, Martell said it would be placed on the green space area. The board addressed the lack there of, and asked for a design with color-coated areas of such space in a future meeting.

The design renderings displayed a major mistake on behalf of the engineers. The designers listed the nearby rail line as “New Jersey Transit Railroad” when it’s actually a freight train line (Picture 2). This brought upon multiple concerns such as fencing for safety in the area, the case of a train overturning and depositing hazardous chemicals, and how emergency vehicles can access the high-density area

As the meeting furthered, more issues were addressed by the board and the public such as the number of parking spaces and what is required, areas for children such as playgrounds, lighting, noise, environmental risks, and much more.

No formal action was taken. The next hearing for the Hartz Mountain application will be held on September 5th, in which a planner will testify on behalf of Hartz Mountain.