PLAINFIELD, NJ — A project hailed in 2017 as Plainfield’s first major development on North Avenue was back before the Planning Board Thursday seeking approval for numerous site plan amendments.
The “1000 North Avenue” plan still includes 120 apartments, but will become a “podium building” with parking at ground level and residential uses above. Plans by the developer, North Avenue Urban Renewal LLC, no longer include a train-side restaurant and retail uses. A courtyard accessible to all residents has been expanded.
AUGUST 2017: Planning Board Approves North Avenue Project
But as attorney Lawrence A. Calli called on expert witnesses to testify on the proposed amendments, board members demanded more precise details, to the point where Planning Board Chairman Ron Scott Bey called for a recess. While the developer’s team huddled in the rotunda, Scott Bey and city planner Malvika Apte went over the sticking points. One was Calli’s insistence that the developer did not agree to make a contribution to the Shade Tree Commission for tree planting. Another was the board’s wish for specifics on the proposed amenities, not just a vow to provide “typical” items. The board also wanted to see plans reflecting the changes, instead of a mix of documents from earlier iterations.
Back from the break, Calli said, “This has been kicking around for years,” and urged a decision that night. “I do believe this board can get granular,” he said, pledging stainless steel appliances for kitchens and courtyard furnishings exactly as shown on the “inspirational” slides. Architect Bruce Englebaugh echoed the pledges and planner Paul Ricci said, “It’s time to move these projects. The applicant is willing to do every amenity.”
Ricci said the project “advances the master plan” and puts transit-oriented development “on the side of the (Raritan Valley Line) tracks with the least development.”
Board member Sean McKenna broke in, saying he wanted to go through the waivers.
“I can’t hear again how appreciative I should be,” he said.
Planning Board attorney Peter Vignuolo and Apte went over the waivers and so did Scott Bey, before the board voted unanimously to give “preliminary approval pending changes as discussed.” The applicant will have to return, most likely in February, to seek final approval.
Scott Bey and Apte said the developer cannot get building permits until the matter is settled, but could apply for demolition permits for the site, which according to information in the Tax Assessor’s office is currently occupied by a large warehouse built in 1947.
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