Garwood Planning Board Grapples with Variances and Site Plan Amendments

The Garwood Planning Board meeting centered on discussions related to proposed variances and site plan amendments for a property, with focus on potential changes to the landscape, parking area lighting, and the adherence to previously approved plans. The applicant faced rigorous scrutiny over several aspects of the proposed project, including the installation of a drainage system, ensuring adequate lighting in the parking area, and the adherence to impervious coverage and open space regulations.

The discussion began with the site plan changes, notably the drainage system and the increase in coverage. The board sought clarity on several aspects, such as curbing, contours, and the installation of filter fabric as per the original plans. The applicant explained that the modifications, including a wider driveway and a comprehensive drainage system, were necessary for functionality, particularly for handling garbage and roof runoff.

A significant segment of the meeting was devoted to the landscaping of the property. Concerns were raised about the lack of aesthetic benefit from the current landscaping plan, with suggestions for adding box bushes and replacing certain concrete areas with grass. The board also debated a member’s proposal to grant a waiver for the parking area lighting, accept grass pavers as a proposed impervious surface, deny the open space variance, and mandate the replacement of concrete with grass on one side of the building.

The board also addressed the discrepancies in the placement of gas lines, dimensions of air conditioning units, and paving thickness in the driveway and parking lot. Questions arose about the location of garbage cans and the accuracy of tax map sheets and keymaps submitted. The necessity of concrete over gas lines and the depth at which they were buried were questioned, exposing a lack of consensus on the details of the project.


One of the most debated points was the need for variances due to the installation of grass pavers. The board scrutinized the impervious coverage percentage and the reduction in open space. There was also a discussion about the width of the property’s driveway and the rationale behind not reducing impervious coverage on the side of the property. The board expressed the need for further information and a maintenance manual for the new stormwater detention system.

The meeting proceeded to address concerns about property lines, open space, and parking lots. A witness compared parking lots on three-family properties in the area, noting the “boxiness” of the lots. Discussions centered on whether the surface parking lot to the rear of the property was a conforming or non-conforming use, with questions about the impact of the proposed changes on the aesthetics of the property, particularly the large area of blacktop.

Furthermore, the board deliberated upon three variances concerning the side yard setback for condensers, maximum lot coverage, and minimum open space requirements. There was debate about the conditions to be imposed upon granting these variances.


Another pressing matter discussed was an application for a use variance on South Avenue, presented by the property owner and tenant, a distribution business. The tenant’s need for more space was weighed against the operations, employee count, customer visits, and delivery procedures. A traffic engineer and planner provided analysis of parking requirements and proposed enhancements to landscaping and lighting. Concerns about the fencing school nearby and its impact on the site’s activities and safety measures were also discussed.

The proposal for a warehouse and distribution use on a property zoned for other purposes was a focal point as well. The applicant stated that the warehouse would operate outside the school hours located on the property, addressing concerns about parking and the maneuvering of vehicles on-site. The planning proof for the use variance was presented, with an argument that the proposed use would not substantially detriment the public good. Nevertheless, board members debated the traffic and parking intensity, questioning the compatibility with neighboring properties and the overall impact on the area.

Adding to the complexities of the meeting, a discussion surfaced about a construction project’s amendment to exclude an apartment from the original application. The board also revisited old business, approved bills and claims, and concluded with a motion to adjourn.


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.

Jen Blumenstock
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