SPRINGFIELD, NJ - A “dismaying” construction error on the part of the general contractor for the Chipotle site, and a a decision on next steps for the Saks property highlighted the June 6, 2018 planning board meeting in Springfield last night.

Richard Goldstein, counsel for the applicant Springfield Parcel LLC/ /Brixmor, developer of the property that will be leased to Chipotle, opened the hearing: “We come to the board this evening after finding ourselves in a position of great dismay, when we learned that the building … was not constructed at the location as depicted on the approved plan.” He added that due to contractor error, the building had been constructed three and a half feet further away from Morris Turnpike than was required by the site plan.

The applicant sought to modify the approved site plan to conform to the “as built” condition.

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Civil engineer Scott Quigley, representing the applicant, demonstrated that to accommodate the change, the drive aisles in the parking lot had been reduced from 24 feet in width to 22 feet in width, and increased the parking width from nine feet to to nine and a half feet, to maintain the five foot setback on the southern border of the property.

In response to questions from the Board, Quigley noted that “24 foot drive aisles are already pretty wide, usually you see 18 feet or so, so we don’t anticipate any detrimental effect.”

The Board unanimously approved the application.

The Board, as the final item of discussion at the meeting, also heard a report from Board Planner Bob Michaels on potential development options for the nine acre parcel known as , which has been a topic of complex discussions over redevelopment for 15 years.

Michaels opened with the topic of access. Primary access, he noted, particularly with any commercial use, should be via Millburn Avenue, with an eye toward not disturbing the residential neighborhoods just behind the property along Baltusrol Avenue.

Michaels then proposed two development scenarios: A mixed use residential and commercial use, with residential in the upper floors over the commercial use on street level, he estimated 20,000 square feet of commercial use possible along Millburn Avenue, with the rest of the property used for multifamily residential dwellings, using a density factor that would yield about 100 units.

Michaels emphasized that access to the multifamily development would be more appropriate via Short Hills Avenue than Baltusrol Avenue, referring to his previous remarks about the residential nature of the Baltusrol Avenue neighborhood.

The other option Michaels noted would be one hundred percent residential, without any commercial use, with a mix of townhouses and apartments.

He suggested two ways to approach the development, either through straight rezoning, or by obtaining a designation that the property is an “area in need of redevelopment” under the applicable state statutes.

Board Attorney Glenn Keinz kicked off the discussion after Michaels’ report, recommending the Township seek to qualify the property as an area in need of redevelopment  “I don’t see that a property of this size is a good candidate for rezoning,” he noted.

“With an area in need of redevelopment, you can get very creative,” reporting that he had groups “knocking down the doors” of his law firm to get areas classified as areas in need of redevelopment, due to the flexibility the status offered property owners and municipalities.

Dave Barnett asked “Who is going to Millburn and having these conversations?” recalling the fact that the first 20 feet of the property is located in Millburn.

“That’s my biggest concern, no matter which direction we choose.” he added. “Millburn has been holding up any development on this property for years.”

Barnett recalled that when he served as mayor of the Township, he had a conversation with the mayor of Millburn Township, and Millburn was “very clear” about what they had wanted on that property back then.”I don’t want to see this going for another 15 years,” he underscored.

In response to a discussion over whether anyone from the Township had approached the property’s owner, Township Engineer Sam Mardini noted that the Township Committee gave the authority to reach out the the property owner, but recalled that the Board decided to wait until the present meeting hear Bob Michael’s recommendations.

“Now that we have discussed it we definitely will reach out to the property owner, probably tomorrow.”

The Board concluded the meeting unanimously passing a resolution to recommend to the Township Committee that they pursue a classification of the Saks property as an “area in need of redevelopment” under the governing state statutes.

In other Board business -

●     The Board approved the application of Care Station Medical Group, located at 90 Route 22 West, for improvement of the building’s facade.

●     The Board confirmed the re-scheduling of the July meeting of the planning board to July 9, 2018 at 7:30 p.m., which is a Monday (the meeting was originally scheduled to take place on July 11, 2018 at 7:00 p.m).

●     Board Chairman announced that Board Member Michael Gonzalez had resigned from the Board, and the matter would be referred to the Township Committee for further action.

●     Sam Mardini reported that he had been authorized by the Township Committee to form a committee to re-review the Township’s master plan, with an eye toward adopting a new ordinance for 2018. The current land use ordinance hasn’t been updated since 2003.

The meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m.