PLAINFIELD, NJ - The Zoning Board of Adjustments heard details of the latest proposed development project coming to South Ave. in Plainfield. Located between Belvidere and Woodland avenues, the project is a mixed-use development consisting of two buildings.
Due to the length of the application, ZBA members were only able to hear testimony from two of the 1014 South Ave LLC. representatives: Thomas Quinn, Project Engineer and Adrian Melia, Architect from MVMK (Minervini Vandermark Melia Kelly).
The larger building consists of a four-story structure that would face South Ave. It would contain 1,800 square feet of retail space on the ground level, an enclosed parking garage on the ground level, 43 residential apartments (21 one-bedroom; 22 two-bedroom), and rooftop amenities. The retail component will face South Ave. as the site is landlocked with minimal frontage.
The smaller adjacent building is a 2.5-story structure that would face Woodland Ave., and include four residential apartment units and 800 square feet of office space.
According to Melia, the design is based on a live/work model that encourages a professional living and working in the same vicinity. The intent of the style is to replicate a colonial style house that is prevalent throughout Plainfield.
Board member Jim Spear commented that it isn’t uncommon to see similar first floor office space, like that being proposed in the smaller structure, in transit oriented developments in other towns like Westfield.
The enclosed garage would house a total of 47 stalls, including 2 ADA compliant spaces, and 8 exterior surface spaces, all accessible by a 22-foot wide driveway from South Ave. Parking access would be at the rear of the building and a loading bay would exist to accommodate moving trucks.
Proposed amenities include a rooftop deck which raised a safety concern among residents who were present. Melia explained that ten-foot setbacks on each side, as well as continuous planters along the perimeter, would create sufficient barriers. An outside picnic area with charcoal grills is also planned.
Units would have individual air conditioning units integrated into the windows, individual laundry facilities, and each floor will have trash chutes.
On the overall design, Melia stated “It is not intended to look like an old building as it is a new, modern building, but will blend into the surrounding historic area due to the materials and the colors.”
Nimrod Webb, owner of adjacent business Netherwood Auto Repair, expressed concerns over an existing driveway currently in use that would be cut at the property line, as well as water runoff from the project.
During the public open comment Janice Fleming, a Woodland Ave. resident, raised questions regarding the potential for flooding in basements of homes nearby due to construction. She raised a safety concern about fire trucks that would not be able to come all the way onto the property, not have enough room to turn around, and not be able to get into the underground garage.
Fleming also asked about noise and odors from a trash compactor, and noted the high number of variances (12) and waivers (9) being requested by the developer.
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Additional concern over the impact of water runoff during a heavy downpour given a proposed retaining wall to address grading differentials was raised by Nancy Piwowar.
Pictured: 1008 South Ave. would be included in this project.
Kirk Flemming questioned the impact on traffic and on the school system, but the board was unable to hear testimony from the traffic engineer due to the presentation time.
Regarding the overall design of the structure, Nimrod Webb added, “Can’t we have something similar to the development near the Fanwood Train Station with architectural features that stand out rather than a big box with colors?”
The applicant will continue its presentation at the next zoning board meeting scheduled for May 1.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article mistakenly spelled Janice Fleming's name wrong, and has been updated. Her concerns have also been correctly updated.