East Second Street Redevelopment A Step Closer To Fruition

By FRED T. ROSSI
For Union County HAWK

SCOTCH PLAINS – The planning board on Monday gave its unanimous assent to an ordinance authorizing a redevelopment plan for a trio of adjoining properties on East Second Street after concluding that the plan was consistent with the township’s master plan. The board also confidently expressed that certain details will be clarified during the site-plan approval process.

The ordinance involves a proposed three-story building to be located at 1770-1772, 1774-1778 and 1782 Front Street—presently the site of a beauty salon, a building that formerly housed a bicycle shop and a vacant lot. The nearly three-quarters of an acre site will be developed by Elite Properties and include 40 apartments, six of which will be tagged as affordable units, and at least 2,100 sq. ft. of commercial space on the ground floor along with 66 off-street parking spaces on the ground floor. An interior courtyard within the second and third floors will also be a feature of the new building, according to board planner Michael Mistretta, who outlined the project for the board on Monday.

His report stated that the proposed development “advances the township’s redevelopment efforts by replacing obsolete and underutilized buildings and structures with new, state-of-the-art mixed-use development” and also advance the municipality’s affordable-housing goals.

The township council will hold a public hearing on the ordinance this summer after which site pans will be drafted and presented to the governing body and then to the planning board for its final approval.

Several board members at Monday’s meeting expressed some concerns about certain aspects of the proposal, including whether there will be adequate parking spaces on the property and flooding risks to the ground-floor parking garage and commercial space. A brook that crosses Park Avenue and runs along the rear of the East Second Street properties is at risk of overflowing its banks during severe rainstorms.

Township Zoning Officer Robert LaCosta said he would prefer more on-site parking spaces, fearing that too many visitors to the commercial stores would end up having to park on the street. Mr. Mistretta said that adding more on-site parking would result in a reduced commercial footprint, which he said is “very important” to have on what is primarily a commercial corridor. Mr. LaCosta also said signs warning owners of cars parked in the garage of flood risks will also be needed.

Board member Frank Conley, who noted that the parking ratio for the project is one space for every 400 sq. ft. while local zoning requirements call for one space for every 200 sq. ft., said he prefers to “stick to what the zone calls for.” Board Vice-Chairman Michael Plotnick pointed out that the shortage of parking spaces is due to commercial space requirements, and that the shortfall is only five spaces.

Board attorney Robert Pansulla reminded the board that it will have the opportunity at the actual site-plan hearing, whenever it occurs, to address any concerns about parking and flooding issues with the developer.

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