SPRINGFIELD, NJ - The Church Mall project being developed by Veale Holdings LLC was not decided on Wednesday at the Planning Board meeting due to numerous questions and concerns mostly regarding traffic flow and pedestrian safety. It will be heard again at the September 6 meeting with additional information.
According to Thomas Quinn, Engineer for the project, “This plan is identical with what was planned with Township officials in 2014”. That plan was the subject of a redevelopment ordinance that was approved by the Township Committee. The parking lot is supplemented by a third parking lot across the street, located to the south of Black Lane.
Architect Rocco Campanella of Raritan New Jersey said his chief design concern is the location next to a historic building. As a result, he focused on keeping the colonial feel with his renderings.
This project consists of four properties totaling 1.08 acres that make up the Church Mall Redevelopment area. The plan is to build two four story buildings. Building A is planned to include 12 residential units with 31 parking stalls; eight of which are under the building. Building B would also be four stories, but 24 units all with underground parking.
Board member Paul Schneier had a number of concerns and asked if a traffic expert would testify about pedestrian access, circulation, snow removal and filter cleaning. He also mentioned that Black Lane is a one way road and also substandard. Paul Schneier stated “I am very concerned about pedestrian safety”.
Ultimately, the decision was made to bring in a traffic expert and have the Fire Department analyze the proposal for safety issues in case of a fire.
Attorney Allen Hantman questioned whether the Board was exceeding their authority.
Under public comments a few residents questioned how the additional cars from 36 new apartments could be handled on the corner of Morris Avenue and Walnut Court. A resident called it “the forgotten area of Springfield” A representative from the Montessori School stated that the traffic has increased and she would like to have that considered.
Another questioner noted that Springfield’s Affordable Housing Plan needs one three bedroom unit and that this project was allocating five two bedroom units to Affordable Housing but there are not three bedroom units. The project attorney, Allen Hantman of Morris and Hantman agreed to build a three bedroom unit to comply with the requirement even thought the building plan was for only two bedroom units. Questions of sewer capacity and additional signage were addressed.
Planning Board Chair Jerry Fernandez said the Planning Board will look at the application in September. In the interim, the Board would like more information.
The next meeting is September 6 at the Township Hall.