MONTVILLE, NJ – The site plan for the Avalon Bay apartment complex to be built in Pine Brook was passed, but not without a lot of deliberation regarding the bridge in the rear of the complex.

The 349-unit luxury rental complex to be built on the contaminated site of the former GI Auto salvage yard, which is part of the township’s affordable housing plan with the state, had its second hearing at the planning board on Jan. 23. A point of contention for the board, especially chair Gary Lewis, was the bridge, as the redevelopment plan for that site dictated that access off of Bloomfield Avenue would be one-way only, and into the complex only. The board worried both about traffic and emergency access.

Traffic engineer Gary Ascolese of Boswell Engineering said he examined the flow at morning and evening rush hours on Route 46 west, that he travels this route often and the signaling can handle additional vehicles generated by the complex.

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Township traffic consultant Harold Maltz approved Ascolese’s findings and said the Lowe’s that had been approved for the site would have resulted in more traffic.

When asked about the resulting traffic if cars left the complex via the back exit over the bridge, Ascolese said there would be “minimal effect on the Bloomfield Avenue corridor.” He was aware of backups that can happen at the intersection of Hook Mountain and Route 46, but said it’s more a question of problems with the way the signaling has been calibrated, and that the town needs to talk to the DOT.

While construction is going on, Ascolese said about 30 truckloads per day would be removing 31,000 cubic yards of contaminated dirt from the property over a six-month period. The trucks would be using the back exit since the exit onto Route 46 will not have been built yet, he said. The board decided to limit access to Bloomfield Avenue to as far as Van Winkle Road.

Attorney for Avalon Bay John Wyciskala said that he had met with the county, and bridge analysts will be inspecting the bridge. Following possible improvements to it, its rating will probably be increased from 12 tons to 40 tons, he said. Pine Brook Fire Dept. official Robert Schmitt told TAPinto Montville that fire trucks generally weigh about 40 tons, so it would then accommodate the emergency equipment.

“Right now the bridge has deterioration at its parapets,” Montville Township engineering consultant Stan Omland said. “That’s why the county has narrowed it down with barriers. If it is to remain one lane, less work would have to be done on the parapets. If it is to become two lanes, more work has to be done.”

Wyciskala wanted it made known to the board that the bridge is under county jurisdiction, and making the bridge two-lane with a six-foot sidewalk could be a problem. Omland agreed, calling the bridge an “unknown element.”

“We don’t know if that’s possible,” Wyciskala told the board. He said Avalon Bay would work with the county to get two-lane access, and stated that the company needed the bridge to have two-way access (not two-lane) for the construction trucks. The bridge cannot be accessed by heavy trucks until it has been renovated, as per the board’s motion. When construction is finished, the access will be one-way leading into the complex. 

Consideration was given by the board to requiring “Towaco style” lighting but it was “straw-polled” and voted down. The Montville Township Police Department will have enforcement capabilities for handicapped parking spaces and fire zone infractions, it was decided. Acreage on the property was set aside by Avalon Bay as open space wetlands.

The vote to approve the application was unanimous.

To read more about the first hearing and the apartment units, click here.

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