Borough of Kenilworth
Planning Board Minutes
February 28, 2008
The meeting began with an affirmation of the Open Public Meetings Act requirements: The schedule of meetings is on file in the Borough Clerks office, was posted on the bulletin board, and has been mailed to the Cranford Chronicle, the Kenilworth Leader, and the Star Ledger. All present recited the Pledge of Allegiance. The Minutes from January 24, 2008 were approved. Approval was given to pay the Recording Secretary and the Board Attorney.
Roll Call: Mr. Lepore, Mr. Corcione, Mayor Fiamingo, Mr. Candarella, Mr. Herbert, Mr. Cirillo, Mr. O’Malley, Mr. Schielke, Mr. Pugliese, and Mr. Cammarota. Absent: Mr. Beninati, Mr. Pantina, Mr. Leary, and Mr. Mancino.
Other Business: The Board Attorney, Mr. Vitale, sent a letter to the Mayor and Council to approve the Storm Water Management Plan Amendment to the Master Plan.
Mr. Vitale introduced Ordinance #2008-02, Chapter 197, Article 111, and Sub-section #197-21, a zoning code ordinance amending the height requirements for houses.
Mr. Candarella described this ordinance. He said it concerns the vertical distance of the height requirements to the highest point of the roof (35’). The opinion of the engineer is that this will make new homes aesthetically more pleasing. Mr. O’Malley questioned the reason this particular ordinance being introduced by the Council now, instead of waiting until the proposed revision of the Zoning Codes and Master Plan. Mayor Fiamingo said there was an issue about the current height restriction. She asked for the opinion of the Borough engineer, Mr. O’Connor. He suggested the height increase is more practical for a typical 2 ½ story house. The older homes in Kenilworth have an average roof height of 35’. This was proposal was given at the Mayor and Council meeting for the first reading. The Planning Board may comment on this proposed ordinance, before it goes to the Mayor and Council for the second reading. Mr. Cirillo stated many residents were in agreement with the present 30’ height restriction, which curtailed the construction of “mini mansions”. Mr. Candarella made a motion to accept the ordinance as recommended. Mr. Scheilke 2nd the motion. All in favor: Ms. Fiamingo, Mr. Candarella, Mr. Herbert, Mr. Lepore, Mr. Schielke, and Mr. Pugliese. Opposed: Mr. O’Malley, Mr. Cirillo, and Mr. Corcione.
Resolutions: Application #23-07, Callelo, 722 Woodland Avenue, Block 156, Lot 21, a Variance for an addition on a pre-existing a non-conforming house. Mr. Herbert made a motion to approve this resolution, 2nd by Mr. Lepore. All in favor: Mr. Herbert and Mr. Lepore.
Application # 21-07, Wilson, 322 Monroe Avenue, Block 25, Lot 14, a Resolution of Denial of a Use Variance: a 2-family home in a CI zone. Mr. Cirillo made a motion to approve the Resolution of Denial, 2nd by Mr. Lepore. All in favor: Mr. Cirillo and Mr. Lepore.
Application #1-08, Sheridan, 637 Fairfield Avenue, Block 164, Lot 5, a variance on a pre-existing, non-conformity. A motion to approve this resolution was made by Mr. Herbert, 2nd by Mr. Lepore. All in favor: Mr. Herbert, Mr. Lepore, and Mr. Scheilke.
New Business: Application #285B, Neri, 25 North 26th Street, Block 189, Lot 9, an extension of time (one year) for his request of preliminary site approval , retro-active to the date it expired (12/31/07). A motion to approve this extension of time was made by Mr. Cirillo, 2nd by Mr. Candarella. All in favor: Ms. Fiamingo, Mr. Candarella, Mr. Herbert, Mr. O’Malley, Mr. Cirillo, Mr. Corcione, Mr. Lepore, Mr. Schielke, and Mr. Pugliese.
NOTE: Mayor Fiamingo and Councilman Candarella were recused from the remainder of the meeting, since mayor and councilman may vote on site plans and may not vote on variances.
Application # 22-07, Troiano, 54 So. 23rd Street, Block 118, Lot 21, a request for a variance for a fence in the front yard. Sworn in: Dianne Troiano. The fence is already in place. She said other similar fences (8) exist in her neighborhood. She said it affords a boundary between her property and the neighbors’ driveway, and protects her young son from going into his driveway. Mr. Cirillo said the sidewalk is already very narrow, and a tree on the sidewalk creates an even more restricted passageway. The fence constitutes a hazard for pedestrians. Other neighbors may be in violation of the zone code (a fence may not extend beyond the frontage of the house), but this does not permit her to disobey the ordinance.
She said the neighboring home has two driveways (a pre-existing condition). Her house is one of the oldest homes on the block, and there are only eight feet between the two houses.
Mr. Herbert said the extent of the new fence was not shown on the survey.
Ms. Troiano said the neighbor parks his car in the driveway alongside of her property.
Sworn in: Nellie Troiano, co-owner of the property. She did not realize the fence was against the zoning code, and is willing to remove that part of the fence that extends along the front of the house (at the sidewalk).
Sworn in: Joseph Borowik, neighbor. He presented pictures of the fence, and Mr. Vitale marked them as exhibits. He also presented a copy of his survey, which was marked as an exhibit. He said Ms. Troianos’ six-foot fence is on his property, and the front of it touches the sidewalk. Mr. Borowik has a chain-link fence that is 6” off the property line (on his property), and Ms. Troiano’s plastic fence abuts his fence, making it 4” onto his property. He objects to the neighbor building a fence on his property, and, also, that they built a fence without a permit. Ms. Troiano said her fence is on her property line; her surveyor said her house is slanted, not the property line and there is no easement on Mr. Borowiks’ driveway. Ms. Troiano said she was told by the Building Clerk that her fence was not even near Mr. Borowiks’ property. .
Mr. Herbert made a motion to accept this application, with a contingency: that a section of fence must be cut from the corner along the neighbors’ driveway (or whatever distance the ordinance calls for from the paved roadway), and the section (in front of the house on the sidewalk) must be entirely removed. Mr. O’Malley said that we cannot approve a fence that is on the neighbors’ property. Mr. Vitale said the issue of whose property the fence is on is a civil matter. If Mr. Borowik takes this matter to court, and proves it is on his property, then Ms. Troiano would remove the fence and replace it on her property (within the restrictions of the variance).
Mr. Vitale said the fence may not encroach on the Borough “Right-of-way”. (Between the paved roadway, the sidewalk, and a portion beyond the sidewalk). Mr. Herbert said the first 10’ section beyond the pavement is the Borough right-of-way. The engineer said there is a “dark line” on the survey which indicates the extent of the Borough right-of-way. This is at least two or three feet in from the sidewalk (there is about 14.5’ from the front of the house to the property line).
Mr. Herbert amended his motion: to approve this application with the contingency that the section of fence on alongside the driveway must be cut back as to not encroach on the town right-of-way. The post must be removed, and the entire 8’ front section removed. This was 2nd by Mr. Corcione. All in favor: Mr. Herbert, Mr. Cirillo, Mr. Corcione, Mr. Lepore, Mr. Scheilke, and Mr. Pugliese. Opposed: Mr. O’Malley.
Application #3-08, Gilligan, 33 Brasser Lane, block 94, Lot 1, a variance for a front yard setback for a porch and addition. Sworn in: Kevin Gilligan. He stated there was an existing smaller 12’ x 5’ porch, and he wants to expand it (to 26’ x 5’ wide). There is an additional 3’ setback, when the steps are included. Mr. Herbert asked if the applicant would be willing to change the steps to extend onto the side. Mr. Schielke said many front porches that encroached on the setback were denied in the past. Mr. Herbert said the new bi-levels are well into the 25’ setback.
Mr. Pugliese made a motion to accept this application, 2nd by Mr. Herbert. All in favor: Mr. Herbert, Mr. O’Malley, Mr. Cirillo, Mr. Corcione, Mr. Lepore, Mr. Schielke, and Mr. Pugliese.
Application #15-07, Galmayo/Blackthorn Restaurant, 651 No. Michigan Avenue, block 1, Lot 5, a request for an expansion of an existing non-conforming use.
Sworn in: Mr. Kevin O’Brien, Board Planner, and Mr. Richard O’Connor, Board Engineer. Mr. O’Brien gave photographs of aerial views of the Blackthorn property.
Mr. Joe Paparo, Attorney for the Applicant said the property, in an Industrial zone, has a history of Restaurant use (formerly EJ’s and the Homestead). It is an existing, non-conforming use. The proposal is for a D-Use variance for an expansion of that use. Witness will be Ms. Gillespie, a site engineer, a traffic engineer, and the architect.
Mr. Vitale told the Blackthorn Attorney; since this is an extension of a Use Variance approval will require five affirmative votes.
Sworn in: Rosemary Gillespie, three-year Operator of the Restaurant. She said the restaurant hours are from 11 am to 2 am. It is a family business, having 24 employees, a dining room deck, and restaurant. The basement is used as storage and office space.
The proposal is for an addition for a party room: for meetings and parties. Part of the addition will be for an office area, moving it from the basement. For catering, about four additional employees would be hired on a part-time basis. The restaurant has a good relationship with their neighboring business, with no noise violations. She reviewed Mr. O’Brien’s’ letter of February 22. (On page 3), she said she would not object to clean up the outdoor storage of pallets, slate, and extra tables. The fence will be repaired, and the Engineers suggestion of bollards would be utilized too.
Mr. Herbert asked if the 6’ x 6’ sign will stay. Since it is mounted in the ground, it will stay.
Mr. Beninati returned to the meeting at this time.
Sworn in: Robert Freud, civil engineer and professional planner. He provided a mounted version of the Site Plan (exhibit A-1). The overall area of the restaurant is 4,768 sq. ft., with a 2,980 sq. ft. deck. The driveway is paved with 45 marked spaces. In the rear a gravel parking area has concrete wheel stops (approx. 124), which total about 170 parking spaces. There is a loading area and fire lanes. The drainage goes into a front drainage system, with underground leaders, and water is also absorbed into the gravel lot. The lighting is minimal, but adequate. The addition will use an area that is not now utilized. The applicant will improve the parking area and with adequate vehicle circulation. The parking spaces are in excess of the parking regulations, including six handicapped spaces. Lighting will be added to minimum standards. The gravel will be re-graded to level; this works well with water run-off.
The sign is one half within the Blackthorn property and one half within the Union County right-of-way. An application has been filed with Union County to keep that sign in place. It is located outside of any outside sight-lines. If the sign needs to be re-located, the owner will comply.
Addressing the parking spaces; there is one space for every 60 square feet of open space and one parking space for every three seats. There are 253 seats (285 were in the original plans). Eighty five parking spaces, plus fifty spaces for the deck are required. One-hundred fifty six spaces are now available. The wheel stops can be moved as necessary and there will be re-striping on the paved area.
Shrubs are in the front and trees along the side.
Review of Mr. O’Connor’s’ letter of February 13: The roof leaders go underground, and they will make test holes to insure there is adequate drainage. This will comply with the parking space requirements. The loading space is in operation from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.; it is located at the rear of the deck. There are legal and permitted storage containers adjacent to the parking area.
A hose test was made to check where the water drains, some to a sanitary sewer. There may be a dry well too.
Mr. Lepore asked how the parking will be defined on the gravel area. Mr. Freud said the concrete wheel stops are spaced to delineate the parking.
Review of Mr. O’Brien’s” February letter: Ord. #197-86: the parking should be combined: restaurant, hall deck, store room and office. The parking calculations should be submitted to the Board. Mr. Freud said a “mixed use” is various components. This is primarily a restaurant; the office and storage are ancillary facilities. Mr. O’Brien said there is 1,000 sq. ft of office space and the storage area is very large.
Five additional parking spaces would be required for office.
On page 5, there is a request of the dimensions of the garage, carport, and shed. They are a few hundred square feet, and this information was passed on to the Board.
The lighting will be improved, with a request of a minor waiver for a slight over spillage on one corner.
Any additional landscaping would reduce the parking area.
The trash enclosure needs a replacement fence (3 sides with a gate).
Mr. Herbert suggested adequate illumination in this area should be addressed.
Mr. Freud said “shoebox fixtures” lighting have no glare. They will be twenty feet high (400 watt illumination).
Mr. O’Brien suggested the garbage area could be placed by the garage. Mr. Freud said the garage is remote and too far to carry the refuse. Mr. O’Brien suggested a refuse area behind the proposed addition. As of now, it is an “island of garbage”, and should be less conspicuous.
The Board engineer suggested some small trees in barrels could improve the aesthetics of the gravel area.
Sworn in: Mr. Robert Grimaldi, architect. He introduced (A-2) an adjusted architectural plan. The restaurant will have the same design finishes. The extension in the rear will be 58’6” plus a 5’ area of egress. The width of the extension will be 35’5” with a 17’ overhang. The use of this area will be for events. This facility needs a larger storage area than a “corporate facility” (such as a Bennigans or Applebee’s). The office facility area will be over the dining room (54’ x 18’). The added basement will connect to the original basement.
The deck is A.D.A. compliant. All items will be brought to code. There will be 108 seats in the new addition. Also, in case of rain; patrons on the deck area could take shelter there.
Mr. Herbert said the new area would be used strictly for special functions. Mr. Paparo said this area is dedicated to special functions, but would be used in other instances, if necessary.
Mrs. Gillespie said there are 24 employees, working in shift work. On a usual busy day, there could be 13 workers. The deck is open only in good weather in the summer. Tables will not be extended out to the deck from the Banquet area.
Mr. Cirillo asked if the restroom facilities are adequate. Mr. Grimaldi said restroom fixtures may be added if needed, and there is a restroom in the new addition.
The owner may modify the canvas structures to accommodate the new addition.
There is an accessible handicapped ramp. They will comply with fire standards. Mr. O’Connor said the wall mounted fixtures should be placed higher.
Sworn in: Ms. Elizabeth Dolan, traffic engineer. She made calculations on the impact of traffic on Thursday and Saturday evenings during the peak hours, both in and out of the driveways. Between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m., on weekdays, she counted about 117 cars, and on Saturday, between 6:45 and 7:45 p.m., she counted movement of 134 cars. Peak commuter activity occurs before the peak dinner hours.
Additional counts on a Friday night (10 p.m. to 2 a.m.) did not affect the flow of traffic on Michigan Avenue. With the new addition, a proportional increase may add 70 to 80 cars to the driveway volume. She feels that, even with the increase of volume, the driveways could continue to operate efficiently during peak hours of operation. The Planner suggested a “reversal” of driveway movements. There were no incidents in the driveways that would warrant that change.
Mr. Cirillo said a left turn in and out of the Blackthorn is difficult, especially between 4 and 7 p.m.
Sworn in: Chief Bill Dowd. He said the driveway “reversal” would not improve the situation. So far, there are no reports of traffic backups on Rte 22 due to Blackthorn traffic. No complaints of patrons parking in other lots have been reported to the police.
Ms. Gillespie said that the facility is most used three out of seven nights. There were not many incidences involving the police. There are no excessive “waiting lines”, except on St. Patrick’s’ Day. Any parties can be accommodated in the addition. Mr. Vitale said it is not necessary to re-state the multiple uses of the addition.
Mr. Paparo asked for a vote at the next meeting.
Chief Dowd stated the Blackthorn has been very co-operative with the police. However, the parking lot is often full, and he is concerned that the Blackthorn patrons park at the Kenilworth Auto Body, Levitz, and McDonalds. He is concerned with pedestrian safety. There are from two to five police on the road on weekends, but they do have a reciprocal agreement with the Union police.
Mr. Freud will make additional comments at the continuation of this application at the next meeting. Mr. Lepore asked if more information will be available concerning the traffic and parking.
Adjournment: The meeting adjourned at 11:05 p.m.
Janet M. Murphy,
Planning Board Recording Secretary
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