Bernardsville Plans Scrutinized for Traffic and Parking Efficiency

During a recent meeting, the Bernardsville Planning Board engaged in a review of a proposed retail building project, with an intense focus on the impact of logistics and traffic, particularly concerning truck access and circulation patterns. The meeting also delved into the nuances of the building’s architectural plans, including the layout of an underground parking facility and the accessibility of service elevators.

The most concern raised at the meeting pertained to the potential impact of truck traffic on local neighborhoods due to a proposed loading dock. Significant discussions took place regarding the path trucks would take to the site, with the public and board members voicing concerns about trucks being diverted from Mount Airy Road and the consequences for surrounding areas. The board considered the need for a comprehensive traffic study to address these concerns and to plan for the management of misrouted trucks.

Questions from the public to the traffic engineer, Mr. Corak, covered a range of operational and logistical issues. The community sought clarity on the layout for truck navigation, particularly in relation to the proposed loading dock. There were queries about the prohibition of left turns out of and into the loading area, the scheduling of deliveries, and the management of Amazon vans and passenger vehicle deliveries. The traffic engineer responded by explaining the site layout and confirming that the current configuration would not support left-turn movements for trucks.

Further examination of transportation issues included the improved sight lines at the site, which the traffic engineer explained would provide additional time for vehicles to spot oncoming traffic, potentially affecting the speed of cars making turns. The public’s questions underscored the importance of ensuring safe and efficient traffic management and delivery operations. The exchange between the public and the traffic engineer illuminated the community’s diligent awareness of these issues.

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The architect’s presentation on the building plans was another focal point of the meeting. Discussions centered on the design of the underground parking facility, including the layout of the lower level, the location of the loading area, and the elevation changes within the site. The architect provided a detailed walk-through of these plans, which sparked debate among board members about the practicality and accessibility of the trash disposal system, the garage circulation, and the design of the garage exits.

A board member raised a concern about the number of dead-end parking spaces and the overall efficiency of the garage layout, questioning why the circulation was not designed to minimize ramp lengths. The architect defended the design choices as an optimization of traffic flow and practicality, yet the board member remained unsatisfied, highlighting the potential impact on traffic flow and user experience.

The functionality and access to service elevators were also points of contention. Confusion arose over how tenants would access the elevators, with a particular concern about the necessity for tenants to walk up to the mezzanine level. The board debated the thickness and structure of the floors, grades of the ramps, and the movement of goods from the service area to the retail spaces. Additionally, the total gross square footage of the retail area and the parking requirements for a proposed seating area outside a cafe were discussed, with the board requesting further clarification.

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The board scrutinized the second and third floors’ layout, examining the purpose of tables and outdoor spaces, potential restaurant use, and architectural elements such as gambrel roofs and fire safety considerations.

The meeting concluded with a decision to extend the discussion to the next meeting on March 28th, 2024. The possibility of dismissal without prejudice for a pending application was considered, and the availability of board members for remote participation in future meetings was also discussed, acknowledging some technological limitations.

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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