NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Planner Susan Gruel of Heyer, Gruel & Associates provided an overview of the upcoming zoning ordinance changes at the Monday, June 10 council meeting. The proposed zoning changes are needed to accommodate the affordable housing settlement.
Gruel gave the council a summary and a preview of the zoning ordinance changes and resolutions that the council will soon have to vote on. There will be an ordinance creating a new zone and three new overlay zones. The C.R. Bard property will be zoned for affordable housing with 192 total units of which 20 percent will be affordable. This is a new zone which permits townhouses and multi-family dwellings. There are setbacks, coverage and design standards included in the proposed ordinance.
Gruel also asked the council to make two policy decisions based on the comments the borough received from the C.R. Bard representatives on the draft ordinance. The first policy relates to telecommunications facilities. There is an existing tower on that site and that will be acknowledged and it will be grandfathered in, she explained. The C.R. Bard representatives have also requested permission to place a telecommunications facility where antennas would be in the proposed structures. Gruel noted that the proposed ordinance only permits townhouses and multi-family homes to be built with a maximum height of 40-45 feet. We would recommend that this request not be included in the ordinance. We are worried that it wouldn’t be high enough for telecommunications facilities to use, Gruel said. She noted that it would also be intrusive to a residential development of that scale. Mayor Al Morgan and the council members agreed with Gruel.
The C.R. Bard representatives also asked for reduced setback rules. “Due to the significant change in grade between the property and the public rights of way at the intersection of Commerce Street and Spring Street the setback shall be reduced to 25 feet for 150 feet along Spring Street and 500 feet along Commerce Street as measured from the intersection,” they reasoned. “We have a proposed setback of 40 feet,” Gruel explained. She also noted that the grade doesn’t appear that significant. There are mature trees in that intersection and “you certainly would not want to eliminate those trees,” she added. The site is also large enough to accommodate the number of units without a reduced setback at that intersection, she pointed out. The council agreed with Gruel.
The proposed overlay zone includes the existing zoning requirements and the added regulations permitting the area to be developed for residential housing. The densities within this zone vary depending on each property’s particulars. All properties permit non-age-restricted multi-family and townhomes of which 20 percent has to be affordable. There are setback rules, coverage, parking and design standards included in the new regulations, Gruel explained. One parcel off Central Avenue will be zoned for age-restricted overlay development with affordable units.
Furthermore, the Linde property will be zoned to accommodate a 297-unit adult community. The adjacent property will be zoned for a continuing care retirement community.
Additionally, the council will have to approve several resolutions to meet the affordable housing settlement conditions.