Oradell Zoning Board Greenlights Contentious Restaurant Project

In a noteworthy development at the Oradell Zoning Board meeting on June 21, an application for contentious variances and a restaurant proposal, which stirred significant debate over zoning regulations and waste management, were both approved. The meeting touched upon diverse issues, from personal privacy of law enforcement officials to detailed discussions about zoning applications and site logistics.

The meeting started with the introduction of Daniel’s Law, designed to protect the personal identification of judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement members in New Jersey, which enables these individuals to remove their home information from government websites.

The crux of the meeting, however, revolved around two contentious applications. First, a case featuring unexpected witnesses stirred the pot over waste removal from a proposed restaurant site. The applicant introduced a haulage firm witness, assuring the Board that waste could be efficiently removed from the site. However, questions regarding the feasibility of the proposed garbage collection route triggered intense debate. Despite disagreements over the plan’s viability, and reservations about potential complications such as nearby bus stops and the truck crossing the double yellow line, the Board seemed to accept the proposal.

An alternate point of contention arose over the application by RW Oradell LLC for variances relating to signage for a commercial office complex. The Board had to grant variances due to the large size of the ground and directory signs, exceeding the maximum size allowed by the regulations. Yet, the application won praise from a board member for the effort to meet the signage needs while adhering to regulations. Alex Dougherty, a licensed professional planner, argued that the sign variances were justified due to the site’s uniqueness, large size, and a large number of tenants, emphasizing that the benefits outweighed any potential detriments. The Board unanimously passed the motion.

The meeting culminated in a heated discussion of an applicant’s proposal for a restaurant, event space, and one-bedroom apartment, which required multiple variances. Criticisms revolved around inconsistencies between the proposal and the Floor Area Ratio standards, lack of handicap parking, and insufficient lighting, among other issues. Despite concerns, the applicant’s attorney satisfactorily addressed most issues raised by the objector’s engineer and planner.

An outspoken critic of the proposal emphasized the building’s size, its non-compliance with zoning regulations, and potential parking issues. On the other hand, Paul Otunis defended the project as an opportunity for cultural diversity and urged the Board to pass it, citing previous instances where larger establishments received exceptions. Despite the robust debate, the board recognized the project’s potential economic benefit and its potential to bring more life to the downtown central business district.

Towards the meeting’s conclusion, the board approved the restaurant development, under various conditions outlined by a board member, including the strict management of garbage trucks. This unanimous approval came despite the challenging balance between commercial development and residential tranquility, especially given the narrow commercial strip along Kindercamack Road.

Lastly, the board discussed the need for two new alternate members and a full board member due to the impending departure of Mr. DeGery and the prospect of requesting applicants to provide a summary brief on each variance in future cases to streamline discussions.

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