Clark Planning Board Rejects Mixed-Use Development Plan

In a turn of events, the Clark Planning Board voted against the proposed site plan for a new mixed-use building on Westfield Avenue LLC, which sought to introduce residential apartments and commercial space to the community. The decision came after discussions regarding parking and traffic concerns, which highlighted the project’s potential impact on the existing infrastructure and neighborhood.

The primary cause for the application’s denial was the board’s concern over insufficient parking for the new commercial space and the likely adverse effects on available street parking for residents. This concern was intensified by public feedback, which underscored apprehensions about the increase in traffic congestion and parking scarcity, particularly during peak holiday seasons. Residents voiced skepticism regarding the tandem parking arrangement proposed for one-bedroom units and questioned the parking survey’s focus.

The site plan application, presented by the applicant’s architect, included the demolition of existing structures and the construction of a four-story building, complete with residential units, commercial space, design elements such as EV charging stations, and landscaping improvements.

Mayor Sal Bonaccorso acknowledged the audience’s concerns, particularly regarding affordable housing, explaining that the state of New Jersey mandated the project and that similar initiatives were being undertaken in neighboring areas. The board discussed various aspects of the project, including the allocation of affordable housing units, which exceeded the required 15%, and the need for waivers related to sidewalk width and streetscape coordination.

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Residents also raised specific issues, such as the placement of trees and sidewalks, garbage management, and snow runoff, with a particular resident expressing concern about the fate of a leaning oak tree on their property due to the development work. The project’s civil engineer presented plans and addressed questions about stormwater management, confirming compliance with regulatory requirements and the existing storm sewer system’s capacity to manage the expected runoff increase.

Moreover, during the meeting, the potential impact of a tree on town property was debated, with the assurance that the Department of Public Works would assess the situation. The public expressed support for the affordable housing component and the positive influence of the proposed building on the area, as evidenced by remarks from audience members Joan Peters and Dean Russo. Ori Toby, another resident, favored the development, highlighting its potential benefits to the neighborhood.

The discussions extended beyond the immediate site plan to a broader debate on the town’s approach to parking, development, and the visual landscape. The professional planner at the meeting provided insights into the parking requirements and the potential for a waiver, emphasizing a conservative approach to the redevelopment plan.

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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:
Sal Bonaccorso
Planning Board Officials:
Jim Ulrich, James Minniti, Kevin Koch, Michael Triola, Michael Altmann, Nathaniel Clee, Erik Jacobsen, Lance Steinberg, Carmen Brocato (Alt I)

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