WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield Planning Board approved an application for a three-story mixed-use development on South Avenue at Westfield Avenue at its meeting Monday night.
“Circle Plaza of Westfield,” located near the traffic circle and across the street from the train station, will contain 30 apartments on the upper floors, with retail or commercial use on the first floor. It will include 13 two-bedroom units, 16 three-bedroom units and one one-bedroom unit. Five of the units would be "affordable," with the other 25 to be rented at market rate.
Fifty-nine parking spaces (most of which would be on the first floor, hidden under the building) would be included — three fewer than originally proposed at the board’s meeting in July. Parking spots would be shared between the building’s residents and businesses.
Much of the building’s design, including the minimum parking spaces required and the total number of units and number of bedrooms in those units, was pre-determined as part of the town’s affordable housing settlement. The site, where a dry cleaning service once stood, is the first “overlay” zone created as a result of that settlement that allows property owners to develop multi-family housing there to go before the board.
The board granted one variance to allow for a 9-foot deep usable porch instead of a 2-foot deep decorative porch — the result of a suggestion by the planning board last month.
Other suggestions by the planning board and the site plan committee were incorporated into the plans, including a lounge/conference room on the first floor (which resulted in the removal of the three parking spaces), decorative fencing and landscaping and architectural details intended to fit in with the surrounding area.
Traffic engineer Craig Peregoy testified that, during the busiest hour of day, the building would likely generate 18 vehicle trips during the morning peak hour and 41 vehicle trips during the evening peak hour. That number does not take into account that the building is in close the proximity to the train station, which commuters would walk to, he said.
Several residents aired concerns that the building would increase traffic and parking issues in the neighborhood. But several board members voiced agreement with each other that the project would not substantially contribute to those problems.
“I think this applicant has done an admirable job,” Planning Board Chair Robert Newell said before the vote. “They’ve been cooperative. They revised their plans and details based on requests from the planning board and the experience we had and what we would like to see.”