Planning Board Greenlights Dwelling Proposals, Suspends Decision on Auto Body Shop Redevelopment

In a recent Fort Lee Planning Board meeting, several significant property development proposals ignited intense discussions among board members and the public. These include an amended building height proposal by Hemant & Sangita Prajapati, a two-unit dwelling proposal by 1 Casper Lane, LLC, and a new three-unit dwelling project by Rock Solid Built, LLC. The contentious meeting also revisited an earlier discussion regarding an application for a use variance by Y&K Realty Inc. & ZYST, LLC for a local auto body shop’s redevelopment.

Board members H. Liapes, D. Conway, H. Joh, J. Luppino, E. Hong, and D. Sugarman were present for these crucial deliberations. One of the most controversial points of the meeting emerged during the discussion of Docket #11-23, the Prajapati’s proposal for an amended building height at 502 Brinkerhoff Avenue. Architect Frank Troia detailed the slight increase in the building height, causing disagreement with Chairman Sugarman, who argued the roof’s modification from flat to partially pitched was a ploy to sidestep the requirement for sprinklers. Despite these disagreements, the Board eventually granted the approval to amend the building height with a unanimous vote of 5-0.

During the discussion of Docket #8-23, architect James McNight presented his plans for a two-unit dwelling by 1 Casper Lane, LLC. The plans necessitated several variances due to the lot’s irregular shape, which led to dissent from Mr. Liapes. However, planner David Spatz clarified that despite the need for variances, the proposed structure’s height and on-site parking conformed with local regulations. The application will continue at the next meeting scheduled for July 11, 2023.

The board also reviewed Docket #13-23, proposed by Rock Solid Built, LLC for a new three-unit structure to replace an existing two-story brick and frame dwelling. Despite initial confusion about the structure’s apparent four-story height, the Board, following discussion and public inquiries, approved the application unanimously.

Perhaps the most contentious application under discussion was Docket #38-22 by Y&K Realty Inc. & ZYST, LLC. The proposal involved the redevelopment of an auto body shop into a self-storage facility. Despite Planner Brigette Bogart’s argument that the proposed use would generate low traffic and create income, the Board did not make a final decision, with Mr. Sinisi indicating that a parking variance may be required once they proceed further in the application process.

The Fort Lee Planning Board’s recent meeting underscored the community’s ongoing struggle to balance development needs with preserving the local character and meeting safety requirements. With several critical decisions suspended until the next meeting, residents and developers alike will be keenly watching how the Fort Lee Planning Board will shape the town’s future landscape.

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