Handicap Accessibility Takes Center Stage in River Edge Meeting

A recent meeting of the River Edge Land Use Board brought accessibility into sharp focus. The primary topic of discussion revolved around a local property housing a beloved candy store and karate school.

Rosanna Rossi, the new owner of Critchley’s Candies, a local business that’s been a community staple since 1957, presented her case for acquiring a food handler’s license, which required site plan approval. The property at 812 Kinderkamack Road, River Edge, comprised of the candy store, a karate school, and a one-bedroom apartment, found itself under the scrutiny of the Board.

While the main agenda was supposed to be about parking and signage, the board navigated the conversation towards an issue often overlooked: accessibility. The discussions laid bare a seemingly minute but significant shortcoming: the lack of a handicapped parking spot. “Perhaps, we should install a handicapped parking spot, given there isn’t one currently,” suggested a board member, sparking an animated discussion.

Accessibility challenges extended beyond parking. The presence of stairs to access the building led the board to question the effectiveness of a handicapped parking spot. Yet, the Board demonstrated its commitment to accessibility, viewing the stairs as a hurdle to overcome rather than a reason to abandon the idea.

Discussion also swirled around the property’s existing signage. The signs, dating back to before the current owner’s tenure, lacked precise measurements, causing some uncertainty about whether they conformed to local ordinances. The board decided that baseline documentation of existing signage was necessary to ensure compliance and facilitate future modifications.

Representatives of the property reassured the board that the property’s operations, long stable, would continue as before. No significant site or interior improvements were expected, aside from possible minor adjustments to table or counter spaces. The board noted that despite the changing ownership, the nature of the operations remained consistent.

The board deemed the application complete, and with unanimous consensus, granted the variance for site plan approval and a food handler’s license. The approval came with the condition of reducing the total parking spaces to 13 to accommodate the installation of a handicap parking spot.

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