NUTLEY, NJ - ‘Major Subdivision and Variances’ were approved for 72 & 74 Dodd Street for Pat Custode, owner of Ralph’s Pizzeria on Franklin Avenue at the July 17 meeting of the Nutley Zoning Board of Adjustment, 

Thomas DiBiasi, the applicant’s attorney opened the hearing: “We all know that downtown is stressed on parking.  Mr. Custode, over several decades, has been working with the municipality to try to assist with parking.”

DiBiasi, had several experts testify in favor of the applicant’s request for variances for ‘fence type and height’, lot subdivision and need for parking, including the engineer who testified at the original hearing when the parking lot was approved.

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During witness questioning, resident Rory Moore asked if the applicant could use municipal parking at Ciccolinis. Zoning Board Chairman Graziano stated: “We don’t know what’s going on with Ciccolinis." It has nothing to do with this application.”

Board member Peter Sirica asked if both lots containing the residences “would be self-contained…their own water, electric…”

Before introducing Father Tom Nicastro, St. Mary’s Church, DiBiasi said: “This is my secret weapon.” Father Tom shared that there is no cook at the rectory where he resides, so he is a patron of Ralph’s ‘several times a week.’ Nicastro said: “I can attest to the fact that there is a serious very serious parking problem there. I find myself many a times, with the exception of maybe Sunday, trying to find a parking space there.

He continued: “Even if there were parking at Ciccolini's there wouldn’t be designated spots. It would just be a municipal lot open to the public.”  

"As a final question which is an integral part of land use, can you tell the board what is your favorite dinner there (at Ralph's)." Thomas DiBiasi.

Currently, there is signage at Ciccolini’s designating the lot as parking for Cubanelle restaurant. According to Mayor Scarpelli, Nutley is receiving $500/mo from Cubanelle.

DiBiasi told the Board: “When this opportunity came up a year ago, instead of using taxpayer money, he [Custode] used his own money and bought the land and got [approved for] 16 parking spaces. We are not asking for any more spaces. You will see what we did with the lots.”

Regarding the subdivision of the 2 residential lots into 3 lots, DiBiasi said: “We were able to actually have some land back there where Mr. Custode will grow oregano, some fresh tomatoes and fresh eggplants. So in the summer season he will have his garden back there in order to supply the restaurant.” 

According to testimony the garden will be on the border of the parking lot and behind the two residential lots on Dodd backing up to the railroad tracks.

Planner Paul Bauman asked the board to ‘extend what had previously been granted as a use variance…the purpose [of this application] is to approve is now being called a new lot 3.1.

Bauman testified that the additional traffic that would be generated by the parking lot would not have any significant impact on the neighborhood.

“The Master Plan says there is a significant issue in downtown regarding the availability of parking. What we are doing here is providing a redundancy to that statement because it is still true today as it was a year ago.” The parking lot, according to Bauman, also supports several Nutley Zoning Ordinances.  

Previously, the Board approved 16 parking spaces on the residential property owned by Custode. On July 17th, the Board unanimously approved all variances associated with the new application and granted creation of the new lot specifically for parking. Members Daniel Tolve and Thomas Da Costa Lobo did not attend the meeting.

The applicant, Pasquale “Pat” Custode, purchased the home at 72 Dodd St earlier this year for $350,000.00. Nutley tax records show 74 Dodd St was purchase by 74 DODD, LLC, Cedar Grove, NJ in 2015 for $330,000.00*

The board also heard testimony from several experts for a 122,400 sq. ft. self-storage storage facility to be partially located at 10 Kingsland Street in Nutley. The Clifton NJ planning board has approved the application for the part of the storage facility located in Clifton. 

The hearing for the storage application and a new 3-story, 2-family home at 71 Harrison Street will continue at the next scheduled Zoning Board meeting on August 21 at 7:30 p.m. Town Hall 3rd floor.

Historical Note:

As per the sales agreement when the Township purchased the Ciccolini property,there is a 30-day vacate clause from either the Township (owner) or Ciccolini’s (tenant)

To address parking space concerns Nutley Township purchased the Ciccolini Brothers property at 537 Franklin Ave in 2016 for $3.42 million. At the time Scarpelli said the reason for the purchase was to “preserve parking for businesses on that end of town.”

Topology, Newark NJ, was chosen as Nutley’s Redevelopment Planning firm to work with the Township on two Redevelopment projects:  1. The Ciccolini property 2. The entire On3 development of the former Roche property.  The Township has a contract with Planner Paul Ricci for other Township properties and projects.

Fr. Nicastro told the Nutley Zoning Board that his favorite dinner at Ralph's Pizzeria is cod fish.