NEWARK, NJ - The city zoning board of adjustment yesterday approved variances for one of three new residential Ironbound developments despite a group of residents voicing concerns over parking.

The board approved variances for YK Group Development Consulting, based in Newark and Lakewood, to build a four-story 28-residential unit development at 526-532 Mulberry St. with 16 on-site parking spaces. Variances for two other nearby residential developments with fewer on-site parking spots were put on hold until August.

Overall, the three developments would create 63 dwellings with 31 parking spots. Ultimately, the other two residential developments were put on hold because at least one board member wanted to see an application that would accommodate more parking.

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“I listened to the objectors and I heard their voices” said board member Rosemarie Ruivo, who called the opinions of the Ironbound residents “legit.”

One Ironbound resident said parking "is already hard enough as it is" in that area. 

“If there's a parking issue and my parents have to walk a block-and-a-half, or half a block, or park on Avenue A, it's not fair to them," said Alfredo Rivas, adding that he was concerned about safety at nighttime. 

A traffic engineer for the project at 526 Mulberry St. said that prospective residents will most likely not walk to Penn Station, which is over a mile away. However, there are multiple bus routes that could be used to reduce car ownership among those who may live at the new development.

"These folks are not going to have the cars that the family homes” have, said John McCormack of Dynamic Traffic, which conducted the study. He added that the units will be relatively small and will attract people who use ride-sharing apps. 

The traffic study showed that about 10 morning and evening car trips would be generated by the new development. McCormack said traffic engineers observed about 50 available parking spots on June 25 around 11 p.m. along nearby streets.

The 526 Mulberry St. project would have a combination of one and two-bedroom units. The current building at the project’s site has three stories, and the developer wants to add an additional floor.

Ultimately, the zoning board approved variances for the building exceeding its permitted height, insufficient off-street parking and more. Ruivo, the board member, said she voted for the variances because it would bring more residents who would want to make “Newark their home.”

The two other developments from YK Group that were seeking similar variances at last night’s meeting were located at 529-531 Mulberry St. and 166-170 Emmet Street.

The planner for the latter Mulberry Street development attempted to come up with additional ideas for parking that would appease the board, including a Zipcar program, offering a shuttle bus to Penn Station or reducing the number of units. However, the board adjourned the meeting and told the developer to come back in August.

Meanwhile, an additional residential corner development at NJ Railroad Avenue and Elm Street with 32 units and 28 on-site parking spaces was also granted variances. 

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