Food & Drink

South Orange Planning Board Approves Adaptive Reuse of Village Hall into Restaurant and Event Space

The proposal from Landmark Developers to repurpose South Orange Village Hall into a restaurant, beer garden, and event space was approved by the South Orange Planning Board on Aug. 7. Credits: Anna Sandler
South Orange Village Hall will be renovated and repurposed as a restaurant, beer garden, and event space. Credits: Anna Sandler

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ  - At their meeting on Monday, August 7, the South Orange Planning Board voted unanimously to approve Landmark Developers proposal to rehabilitate and repurpose South Orange Village Hall into a restaurant with an outdoor beer garden, with two banquet hall spaces on the upper level of the building.

The Planning Board approval came after multiple months of discussion, with several issues being raised during the public comment portion of the meetings from South Orange residents and business owners.

Several JESPY House clients, who live next to the proposed beer garden, raised concerns about pedestrian safety and noise from both patrons in the garden, and from patrons as they are walking to their cars that will be parked along the surrounding streets.

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"JESPY clients live right next to the parking lot for the beer garden. Many have to leave early in the morning to go to work. They do not want to hear noise late at night," stated Jody Kanner in an email.

JESPY House client Michael Jaslow added by email, "I have a physical disability. I am worried about security. People will leave the beer garden after drinking. We need the town to put a camera in the parking lot to help make the area safer. Many of the JESPY clients in that building are seniors. Many of us walk in that area to go to our homes."

Speaking on behalf of JESPY House, Ahadi Bugg-Levine summarized their issues about safety, noise, and parking, and requested the Planning Board's assistance in making sure these issues, such as parking and security, which are not overseen by the Planning Board, would be reviewed by the Board of Trustees.

Several South Orange business owners also expressed concerns over parking and traffic, and the potential negative impact on their businesses if their clients and customers have issues with parking or traffic congestion in the area surrounding Village Hall.

The Planning Board's approval of the application was contingent on a list of conditions with which the developer must comply, including specific parking stipulations, adhering to any local and state historic provisions, providing bike racks, not exceeding more than 150 people in the upstairs event spaces, and maintaining landscaping in perpetuity.

"We wish the applicant all the best," stated Harold Colton-Max, Chair of the Planning Board, after the application was approved, adding to the audience "please do continue to stay involved."

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