Millburn Board of Adjustment Gives Approval to Tae Kwon Do Studio Downtown

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Planner Richard Keller responds to questions on Tiger Tae Kwon Do at Monday's Millburn Board of Adjustment meeting. Credits: Bob Faszczewski
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MILLBURN, NJ—In spite of some skepticism on the part of board members about its effect on parking in the central business district, Tiger Apex Tae Kwon Do was given unanimous approval on Monday by the board of adjustment to locate a studio on the second floor of 340 Millburn Avenue.

Jung Gina Hwang, owner of the studio, told the board she has leased the space for 10 years, the area of the space is 2,786 square feet and the lease provides for three parking spaces in the rear of the property.

Hwang, if approved, also said she would purchase three township parking permits for three employees she anticipates working in the facility.

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According to Hwang’s planner, Richard Keller, the 340 Millburn Avenue location, which houses the Coco retail establishment on the first floor, has 11 parking spaces on site. Although the township’s zoning ordinance requires 14 parking stalls for the size for a retail use taking up the square footage of the space, he added, since the space formerly was occupied by an office, the requirement should be 12 spaces for the studio.

Keller added that since the site is fully developed, in order to meet the 12-space allocation demolition would be required.

He noted there currently are two municipal parking lots within the vicinity of the proposed Tae Kwon Do center—Lot No.4 on Taylor Street and Lot No. 1 on Main Street—and the new municipal parking garage will be built on Lot No.2, adjacent to Lot No.1.

The planner also said the location of parking on the perimeter of the township’s central business district would mean increased business for local merchants because parents of the center’s students would shop in the district’s stories while waiting for their children to finish training sessions in the studio.

Township Zoning Officer Eileen Davitt said, however, the studio did not strictly fit into the zoning ordinance’s definition of retail use but was more akin to a fitness facility.

Keller and Kwan, in their testimony, disputed the classification of Tae Kwon Do as strictly for fitness, emphasizing that the mission statement of the facility would be to “promote mind, body and spirit” and to encourage discipline and self-confidence among its students.

It would be this spirit of discipline, Kwan said, that would encourage parents to follow instructions from the center’s staff to drop off the students, sign them in, then park elsewhere in the central business district rather than causing traffic congestion near the facility.

The owner said she expected the facility to be open from 10 am to 9pm Monday through Saturday with Sunday openings only once or twice a year to train students for tournaments. The center would serve three groups—three-to-five-year-olds, six-to-10-year-olds and those 11 years old and older, with the classes lasting 30 minutes, 40 minutes and an hour, respectively, for the three age groups.

She added there would be a 10-to-15-minute break between each of the sessions.

Kwan noted there would be seven to 15 participants per session and two instructors. In addition, the facility would house one of two office staff members.

Two of the three rooms in the facility would be used for training and a center room probably would house an employee break room, she said.

Kwan’s architect, John Buchholz, said the floors would consist of a multiple of layers, including a “floating floor,” homasote material to decrease noise and mats to further dampen the sound. He added the walls also would be coated with homasote.

Tae Kwon Do does not involve constant noise, he said, only occasional yelling from the younger trainees, and there would be music for meditations emanating from speakers mounted on the walls.

Buchholz said the single exit from the facility could accommodate up to 29 people and the limited-use fire escape would remain with the facility.

Board member, Roger Manshiel, expressed concern about the parking and about the safety of Millburn middle school and high school students who, Kwan said, could be encouraged to walk to the facility after school.

Keller noted, however, since the township zoning ordinance was silent on facilities such as that proposed by Tiger Apex, with its allocation of about 100 square feet per trainee, “per square footage this facility probably would provide more parking than needed.”

Resident Jiin Artis of Short Hills said for seven of the nine years she has lived in the township her children have attended Tae Kwon Do classes in Summit, which has parking challenges similar to those in Millburn, and there have been no problems.

She added she has seldom, if ever, shopped in downtown Millburn but would begin doing so if her children attended the Millburn Avenue facility.

Artis also said since the parents of Tae Kwon Do students were committed to its discipline they would follow the parking rules set down by Kwan and her staff.

Jessie Wilt of Madison, whose children attend the Tiger facility in Florham Park, said she now did much of her shopping in Florham Park because of the location of the facility there.

She also commended the Tiger instructors for putting on anti-bullying presentations in local schools.

One resident, however, said his children had attended Tae Kwon Do classes and he had never seen only six parents in a facility, as claimed by the Tiger owners and their supporters.

He added he was afraid someone would be hurt because there were more people in the facility than the building could handle.

Board Chairman Joseph Steinberg said he was somewhat concerned that, since the variances granted to the facility “would go with the land” future tenants might not be as cognizant of the potential parking problems as Kwan.

In the end, however, board members felt that since the facility was to be located on the second floor it would not present as many problems as a first floor facility and it might bring some benefits to the central business district.

They also included as a condition of their approval the purchase of three employee parking permits by Kwan.

Board members felt this would alleviate congestion in the building’s parking lot by leaving the three allocated spaces available for parents with parking available in surrounding municipal lots for those unable to park in back of the building.

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