CRANFORD, NJ – The Cranford Planning Board approved the Birchwood Redevelopment Plan at Wednesday night’s meeting.
The approval was granted with minor conditions, including a five-year bond to maintain trees in the rear of the building to the engineer’s satisfaction, a design waiver to include stone in the columns of building A and an agreement to implement a six-foot entrance sign.
Witnesses for the applicant provided testimony on flooding, traffic and vegetation – all concerns brought up by residents during the presentation to the township committee.
“It does provide flood plain on the site,” engineer Michael Dipple said. “These buildings are set with finished floors about three feet above the flood hazard area, so that’s about the largest storm that would come into this area. We experienced a very severe storm in 2011 that came up to elevation 76 or 77 and this was designed with a flood elevation of 78.6, so anything we’re talking about here is conservative by about a foot and a half.”
Traffic engineer Elizabeth Dolan spoke to the traffic impact, stating that the development would have the most impact on traffic on Orange Avenue during peak hours during the weekday morning and evening work commutes.
“We estimate 81 driveway moments during the morning peak hour and 99 during the evening peak hour,” she said. “We add, at most, about eight seconds of delay. That would be the average wait time for someone to leave Brookside Avenue and enter the Orange Avenue quarter.”
When asked, Dolan noted that the study did not include Bloomingdale Avenue, to the chagrin of audience and board members alike.
“I live on Bloomingdale Avenue and I drive up and down Birchwood six times a day, easy,” Bobbi Anderson, vice-chairperson of the board said. “I think it was a mistake to not do the traffic study on some part of Bloomingdale.”
Other members of the board agreed with concerns regarding the traffic study.
“I agree with the comments about the traffic study, but I think that can all be worked out,” board chairperson Kathleen Murray said.
Residents along Wadsworth Terrace were concerned that large trees on the rear screen would become their responsibility if those trees were to die, prompting the bond agreement.
The full meeting can be viewed on TV 35.
To view the redevelopment plan, click here.