Fort Lee Planning Board Advances 14-Story Residential Projects amid Traffic Concerns

In the latest meeting of the Fort Lee Planning Board presided over by Chairman Herbert Greenberg, detailed plans for two major residential projects on Main Street were the central focus. The representatives of MCRT Investments LLC presented the initiatives on behalf of Fort Lee Upper Main and Lower Main Urban Renewal LLC. A substantial portion of the meeting revolved around traffic considerations with projections of added trips during peak hours, and suggestions on ways to manage the increased vehicular and pedestrian movement. The proposals for both projects, one featuring 253 units and the other offering 172 units, each standing at 14 stories, successfully advanced to the next stages of planning following unanimous board approvals.

Ben Crowder of Bohler Engineering led the discussion on the Lower Main project, situated across several parcels on Main Street and Kaufer Lane. He detailed a 14-story establishment housing 253 residential units, 25 of which are designated as affordable housing. The complex is designed to contain 300 parking spaces, two more than required, and plans to fully meet electric vehicle readiness criteria over a six-year period. Additional enhancements proposed include new sidewalks, streetlights, and a stormwater management system featuring an underground retention facility.

Bruce Stieve from MHS Architects expanded on the architectural dynamics of the development, indicating a modern facade merging brick and metal paneling. A correction was made regarding the electric vehicle (EV) stations; the project will host 60 EV stations, meeting the requirements. Stieve also touched upon the ADA-compliant design, highlighting the inclusion of amenities such as a small pool and lounge area.

Traffic implications were a significant theme throughout the discourse, with John Harter of Atlantic Traffic & Design outlining the project’s impact on local traffic based on a 2022 study. It was noted that the busiest Saturdays would see a 2.5% increase in traffic on Main Street, with a reassessment of traffic light timings at crucial junctions suggested post-completion. The project pledged collaboration with county authorities to ensure safety and control measures are optimized, including addressing sight distance concerns raised by the police chief.

The board engaged in meticulous scrutiny of the details presented, interacting extensively with the experts to clarify specific elements and to affirm the commitment to regulatory adherence. Both board members and citizens echoed concerns regarding potential traffic woes and environmental shifts, particularly emphasizing the implications on Kaufer Lane and Main Street. Suggestions such as re-evaluation of road patterns and addressing the impact on local schools were referred to Mayor Mark Sokolich and the council for further deliberation.

The Upper Main project, which plans to establish a 172-unit residential building, echoed similar sentiments in its presentation, with the board emphasizing the adherence to New Jersey’s RSIS standards and coordination with various parties for regulatory compliance. Both projects highlighted the readiness to make necessary adjustments based on the collaborative reviews and feedback.

At the meeting’s conclusion, both proposals received unanimous approvals, signaling a favorable outlook for the developments. The board advocated for a post-construction review of the area’s traffic circulation in a recommendation directed to the Mayor and Council.

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