NUTLEY, NJ - City of Clifton representatives opposed the Nutley Hoffmann-La Roche Phase III Redevelopment Plan during public comment on Ordinance No. 3452 at the Tuesday, Oct. 6 Nutley Board of Commissioners meeting. Sam Schwartz Consulting presented the On3 traffic impact study.

On March 5, 2015, the BOC declared the entire Hoffmann-La Roche site an area of redevelopment on a condemnation basis. The proposed Phase III Redevelopment Plan, based on a traffic study prepared by Sam Schwartz Consulting on Jan. 13, 2020 was introduced as Ordinance No. 3452 at the Aug. 18 BOC meeting.

The ordinance developed by Topology NJ, LLC, unanimously approved by the BOC, will regulate the use, functionality, and design of the internal roadways on the formerly Hoffmann-La Roche. Additionally, the plan allows Nutley to control the redevelopment area where traffic will affect the township roadways

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Both Meryl A.G. Gonchar, co-chair of the Sills Cummis & Gross Land Use Practice Group, and Attorney Neal Zimmerman of Waters, McPherson, McNeill, P.C. requested letters they sent on behalf of Pb Nutclif Master, LLC of Nutley and Quest Diagnostics, Inc. in Secaucus respectively, be entered into record. Mayor/Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mauro G. Tucci concurred.

Redevelopment attorney, Jaime Placek, on behalf of Clifton, opposed the ordinance saying it is short-sided requesting the BOC delay the adoption. “We think it’s contrary to law[…] to [the] attorney general formal opinion number 5 with the respect to the stopping of thorough traffic crossing from Clifton into Nutley.

Placek requested the BOC, Clifton, and the redeveloper meet to address the traffic issues and try to continue to work together on the project. “It appears to the City of Clifton that the proposed ordinance that Nutley intends to adopt tonight acts as if the entirety of this site is on full build-out,” he said.

According to Placek, Clifton does not plan to grant every request to the redeveloper for a full build-out. He said that Nutley has appeared at many of Clifton’s land use hearings and objected while Clifton has not.

Placek threatened the BOC if they adopted the ordinance. “Clifton may have no choice but to act in kind to close off Metro Boulevard […] heading north, forcing the township of Nutley residents to further impact Nutley streets to access Route 3,” he said.

He also claimed that Clifton would begin appearing at Nutley land use boards and object to traffic impacts. “Certainly any redevelopment that takes part on the Nutley side will certainly impact the streets of Clifton as well,” he said.

Lou Luglio, vice president, director of transportation and site development of Sam Schwartz Consulting held a traffic study PowerPoint presentation of the On3 site via Zoom based on the developer’s vision plan and what is already completed. He said there should be an overall study for traffic impact on the entire On3 site and estimate new traffic for Clifton, Nutley and Route 3.

According to Luglio, the estimated new traffic would put a substantial impact on Nutley streets without significant mitigation and roadway improvements causing operational and safety issues.  There is more land development in Clifton. “The level of development expected on the Nutley section is not in proportion with the level of traffic projected to travel through the local Nutley roadway network,” said Luglio.

The safety issues Luglio raised from additional vehicles on the roadway include road rage, limited sight distance, inadequate gaps for turns or crossing, reduce pedestrian sight distance, insufficient distance and time for pedestrians to cross and comprising shared bike lanes.

The study shows that in 1995 along Route 3 from Montclair to Lyndhurst there were 7,800 vehicles per an hour in Clifton and Nutley, while now in 2020 there are 8,400. The study looked at the three interchange ramps at Route 3 and the intersections at Kingsland Street. Luglio said the most significant problems are at the interchange ramps and the full potential build-out of the site.

In addition, the study looked at the full potential build-out of the site. “[…] the read test either from NJDOT standpoint or from the county or from any municipality is not to look at the site in incremental pieces. It’s really to look at it as an overall site and to have some estimate with tolerance of what the estimated number of vehicle trips would be in and out of the site,” Luglio said.

Luglio said understanding what the full build-out may be will help to comprehend the improvements required and the number of vehicle trips the site can tolerate.

With a full build out the survey suggests there will be 2,700 vehicles at peak morning hours and 3,167 at the evening peak hours which is significantly greater than when Hoffmann-La Roche was in full operation.

Access to the site from Nutley would bring approximately 37 percent of the traffic coming in from Route 3 East, 14 percent coming in from Bloomfield Avenue and a combination of 49 percent coming in from the two access points from Kingsland Street. About 65 percent of the new development is from Clifton and the other 35 percent from Nutley. The proportion of traffic traveling to and from is not in the same proportion. There would be 49 percent of the traffic traveling through Nutley.

The studied where ON3 would be in 2025 when all the development would be in and operational and any other projects and growth along Route 3. Luglio said there is not a geometric solution that could be implemented without major roadway/intersection expansion to provide traffic improvement. 

According to Luglio, projecting traffic one site at a time would be problematic. “At some point you may not realize that there are improvements that are going to be needed and they will never occur because you looked at it from a segmented basis and not overall as one project,” he said.

Philip Abramson, founder and CEO of Topology also gave a PowerPoint presentation reiterating what Luglio said summarizing that development on the Clifton side would greatly affect Nutley roads. “There’s a detrimental impact on the health, safety [and] welfare stemming from deteriorating traffic conditions that are caused by land use decisions that are made outside of Nutley’s control […],” he said.

Abramson said by maintaining and controlling traffic generated from the site the township will be able to control what happens on Kingsland Street and corresponding roadways. Areas impacted are Metro Boulevard, Ideation Way and Medicine Lane, and Metro Boulevard’s bicycle lanes.

The proposed Phase III Redevelopment Plan will minimize the safety hazards, traffic congestion, and other detrimental impacts to Nutley. The plan focuses on the intersections of Kingsland Street and Metro Boulevard; Kingsland Street and Ideation Way; Ideation Way and the municipal boundary; and Metro Boulevard and the municipal boundary.

The plan also protects the rights for the tenants located wholly or partially on the Nutley side.

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