Historic Oradell Faceoff: Zoning Board and Community Debate Development Plan

In a recent Oradell Zoning Board meeting, community members convened to deliberate on a contentious development plan submitted by RK Holdings LLC for 240 Kindercamack Road. While local business growth is typically welcomed, the proposal has incited heated discussions, centering around concerns of traffic disruption, safety, and preservation of local heritage.

The proposed project, suggested to be a sizable restaurant, stirred significant debate over its potential impact on local traffic patterns and parking conditions. The development’s proposed location at the intersection of a bus stop raised eyebrows, with concerns voiced about the feasibility of large delivery trucks accessing the site and possible disruptions to traffic flow.

A chief objector to the project, Mr. Trapp-Eagan, a longtime Oradell resident, business owner, and the proprietor of the adjacent Tuners Cooper House—a historic building on the National Register of Historic Places—presented a case against the project. Mr. Trapp-Eagan raised numerous objections concerning parking and pedestrian safety. His concerns were compounded by fears that his property could become an impromptu parking lot for the new establishment, which would inevitably strain his resources and potentially harm the local business community.

Among the objections was the argument that the project’s scale was inappropriate for the space and that it could lead to detrimental effects on the adjoining properties. The board sought expert advice on the parking and traffic study to address the issues raised about parking demand at different times and the potential impact on nearby businesses, including a restaurant (ORRA), Jay’s Pharmacy, and a local theater (the playhouse).

The board scrutinized the applicant’s traffic report. Critics were quick to point out that the report provided only a “snapshot of parking conditions,” without detailed studies reflecting actual conditions. The concern was that it may understate parking demand and overstate capacity, thus leading to a decision made on insufficient information.

A recurring theme throughout the meeting was a reflection on the city’s Central Business District master plan. While it encourages a vibrant downtown with diversified uses, known as “people and wallets on the streets”, the board found it challenging to reconcile the master plan with the unamended zoning rules. The master plan was under scrutiny for its liberal recommendations on restaurant regulations, including parking, which contrasted with the ongoing situation.

Additionally, the board focused on the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of the proposed project, which exceeds the permitted 35% at 49.4%. This 41% discrepancy, according to the board, refutes arguments that the violation is minimal. Moreover, the application fails to meet other statutory burdens, such as the parking requirement, setback requirements, and other buffer requirements. Given these unresolved issues, the applicant’s request for bulk variances, lot width, and front yard do not meet the C-variance relief criteria.

Garbage disposal at the restaurant was another concern, with members of the board expressing worries over potential safety risks and traffic disruptions during collection times. The meeting also touched on the challenge of regulating haulers’ actions, especially during early morning collection when oversight may be limited.

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