Bernardsville Board Debates Traffic Impact of New Development

The Bernardsville Planning Board recently convened to discuss a series of issues, with attention paid to the traffic impact and logistics of a proposed development project. The meeting delved into the complexities of the project’s influence on local traffic patterns, pedestrian accessibility, and the integrity of environmental management systems.

During the discussion, the traffic engineer presented a detailed traffic impact study that focused on vehicular and pedestrian traffic flow, site access points, and safety concerns. The board intensely scrutinized the proposed relocation of vehicular access points, intended to improve sight lines and reduce traffic impact. A notable concern was pedestrian accessibility, which the traffic engineer aimed to address by proposing changes to the site’s design. The board also raised questions about the management of residential move-ins and move-outs, alongside the suitability of the proposed loading area for larger delivery trucks and their potential impact on traffic flow.

The project’s pedestrian space and stormwater management plans were thoroughly examined. The aim to increase pedestrian area to approximately 10,000 square feet was acknowledged, with the board inquiring about the implications for stormwater management and impervious coverage. The project engineer presented a reduction in impervious coverage and the introduction of a courtyard with substantial green space, which would help decrease the overall water load. However, the board did not hesitate to question the compliance of the project with the Palmer Square Redevelopment plan, to which the engineer confirmed full compliance. Further discussions revolved around environmental concerns such as handling abandoned gasoline fuel tanks and oil spills, with the project engineer assuring that these issues would be managed in accordance with state and local regulations.

Another point of discussion was the logistics of truck deliveries, the accommodation of trucks of various sizes including Amazon Sprinter vans and mail delivery trucks, and the internal movement of packages through the building. The traffic engineer had conducted a traffic study that included traffic counts during peak hours and an evaluation of future year conditions, which informed the adjustments made to the trip generation numbers. The board requested further clarification on the methodology for internal trips and the use of specific credits in the calculations.

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The debates extended to the adequacy of the traffic engineering manuals and whether they effectively incorporated recent societal changes, particularly the impact of services like Vans and Ubers. The board probed the Trip Generation and Parking Generation manuals, questioning the incorporation of new data and the relevance of the range of years for the studies. The inclusion of pedestrian crossing and turning movements in the traffic analysis was scrutinized, with the board seeking specific details on the assessment of level of service at the driveways and the traffic signal.

The board also tackled discrepancies between the architectural and engineering plans, such as the grading of the ramp and the use of grass between two building bumps. Concerns about parking demand, loading space, and stormwater management regulations were addressed with emphasis on compliance with state and local regulations.

In addition to the technical discussions, the meeting had procedural elements. The board administered the oath of office to a new member and adopted new procedures for public meetings, which now include live streaming on YouTube without opportunity for public comment. The board approved the appointment of a professional traffic expert and reviewed and approved meeting minutes from a previous session with minor changes.

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A resolution was drafted and adopted regarding an ordinance on affordable housing set-asides requested by the council. The ordinance was discussed and deemed not inconsistent with the master plan. The board also tackled errors in the conditions of approval for two applications, with alterations including changes from “good faith” to “subject to the discretion of the borough engineer” and the use of “comment” instead of “condition.”

The board moved to adopt a resolution approving application number SP223, allowing the applicant the flexibility to adjust the building footprint without hindrance due to certain requirements. Additionally, discussions were held on the continuation of a public hearing, with the representative of the applicant expressing satisfaction with the drafted conditions and emphasizing the project’s compliance with the Redevelopment Plan.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Mayor:
Mary Jane Canose
Planning Board Officials:
Graham Macmillan, Chad McQueen, Karen Gardner, Robert Graham, Jeffrey Horowitz, Mary Kellogg, Christopher Otteau, Hal Simoff, Denise Filardo (Board Administrative Officer)

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