Planning Board Approves Pedestrian Bridge, Mixed-Use Development, and New Leadership

The Ocean Planning Board has unanimously approved the construction of a pedestrian bridge from Brookside to Kramer Court and a mixed-use development project on Norwood Avenue. In addition, Jeffrey Weinstein and Edward DiFiglia were appointed as the new chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, in the wake of Dr. Joseph DiBenedetto’s departure.

The meeting, presided over by Ronald J. Kirk, Director of Community Development and Planning Administrator, began with the nomination of Weinstein and DiFiglia to their new roles. Recognizing DiBenedetto’s past service, Kirk provided his contact information for future reference.

The board then moved on to discuss the proposed pedestrian bridge, a 5-foot wide suspended structure over Poplar Brook. The bridge is part of a larger capital improvement initiative aiming to provide a safer route for pedestrians and prevent people from cutting through the police parking lot. Construction is set to occur between April 1st and September 1st due to the presence of an endangered bat species in the area. The board’s vote confirmed that they had no recommendations for the council regarding the bridge project and approved it to proceed.

A member of the public voiced concerns about the project’s funding and the lack of notice for the meeting. The board responded by clarifying that they had no authority to deny the project and suggested addressing these concerns at a town council meeting.

Following the discussion on the bridge, the board shifted its attention to two new cases. The first involved a lot line adjustment between two lots owned by Anie Jack and Victoria, aiming to transfer 7,500 square feet from one lot to the other. The board’s professionals confirmed that the lots were conforming and had no objections, leading to a unanimous approval of the application.

The second case involved Hadad Management LLC’s proposal for a mixed-use building on Norwood Avenue. The proposed building would consist of three stories, with commercial retail space on the ground floor and residential units on the upper floors. Armen McCumber, the applicant’s attorney, stated, “We’re proposing a new mixed-use building… it fits into the neighborhood… it’s extremely attractive… everything is well within your ordinance.” The planning board reviewed the necessary exhibits, including the application, site plan, boundary survey, and reports from the planner, engineer, code enforcement officer, and public works.

Jason Fiter, the project’s engineer, presented the site layout and highlighted that the building would comply with height and setback requirements, provide the required affordable units, and include a comprehensive stormwater management plan. Despite some minor variances and parking issues, the board was satisfied with the project’s proposal and thanked the applicant and the professionals involved in the process.

The proposed project exceeded the required number of parking spaces, providing 76 instead of the mandated 69, and included the necessary ADA spaces and electric vehicle parking stations. The board members discussed potential overflow of parking during the summer and the impact on the area. They also discussed the possibility of assigning parking spaces to the residential units and ensuring that retail spaces had quick access.

The meeting then moved to public comments, with residents expressing concerns about flooding, the building’s proximity to their property line, and the potential increase in traffic and parking issues. The board addressed these issues, assuring residents that the project had met all parking requirements and had designed a stormwater system to reduce runoff from the site into the streets.

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.

Mayor:
John P. Napolitani Sr.
Planning Board Officials:
Ronald J. Kirk (Director of Community Development and Planning Administrator), Claire Vilanova (Secretary to the Planning Board), Joseph DiBenedetto, David Fisher, John Duthie, Estelle Klose, Jeffrey Weinstein, Edward DiFiglia, Jemal Beale, Jack Ades, David Bodnovich, Chris Caramanica

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