River Edge Board Denies Medical Facility’s Parking Variance Application

In a recent River Edge Land Use Board meeting, A discussion unfolded over the application by Hackensack Meridian Health to create a medical office space on Johnson Avenue, focusing largely on the adequacy of the proposed parking plan. Concerns from board members and the public about the potential overflow of patients’ vehicles into neighboring lots, the feasibility of offsite parking arrangements, and the long-term sustainability of parking availability dominated the discourse. Despite an extensive review that included testimonies, expert analysis, and the submission of multiple exhibits, the board ultimately denied the application due to unresolved issues surrounding the parking variance.

The crux of the debate was whether the proposed 57 onsite parking spaces, supplemented by an additional 20 offsite at an NJ Transit lot, would suffice for the medical office’s needs. According to zoning requirements, the medical office would need 136 total parking spaces based on the number of doctors and square footage. The applicant’s representatives argued for the variance, citing operational characteristics of the medical office that would align with the provided parking spaces. They presented an analysis indicating that 45 spaces would be allocated exclusively for the medical office, with the remaining 12 for other office uses.

Board members questioned the practicality of the parking plan. One concern raised was whether employees would realistically use the offsite NJ Transit parking lot when closer options might be available. The potential overcrowding of the medical office, which was expected to include 20 exam rooms and support staff, led to apprehensions about the volume of patients potentially exceeding the parking spaces available.

The subject of parking became even more complex with the introduction of three documents into evidence. Exhibit A-3, a letter from Les Whitesman, vice president of Park America Inc, discussed the leasing of parking spaces at the Newbridge Landing station. Exhibit A-4, an image from Google Earth, depicted the walking path from the furthest point of the Newbridge Landing parking lot to the property in question. These documents sparked further scrutiny over the commitment from parking management and the logistics of using offsite parking.

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Public input punctuated the meeting’s discussions. Concerns ranged from practical issues, such as the challenges faced by elderly employees or those with disabilities in using a distant parking lot, to strategic issues like the potential need to reduce the number of treatment rooms to accommodate parking limitations. Mr. Keno, a board member or public attendee, highlighted the risk of parking overflow into a nearby mini mall lot and the difficulty in enforcing parking regulations. Another speaker, Timothy Corston, representing the estate of Tamborelli, questioned the adequacy of a one-year lease for parking and the enforceability of such an arrangement.

The application by Hackensack Meridian Health was not the only topic of the night. The board engaged in a discussion about statewide affordable housing legislation, examining proposed bills that could redefine the affordable housing program and impact municipalities’ immunity from exclusionary zoning lawsuits. The impending expiration of New Jersey’s third round of affordable housing in July 2025 prompted the board to advise municipalities to begin planning for the fourth round of obligations, despite the uncertainty surrounding the proposed legislation’s outcome.

Moreover, the board discussed the potential impact of accessory dwelling unit legislation, which could alter zoning regulations by allowing secondary units on single-family properties. The implications of converting existing structures or erecting new ones to create additional dwelling units were debated, with concerns about the feasibility of such changes and the capacity to mitigate effects on local zoning.

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The submission of the annual report by Ed Alter was mentioned, along with the need for formal acceptance through a resolution at the subsequent meeting.

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:
Thomas Papaleo
Land Use Board Officials:
Glass, Chris Caslin, Richard Mehrman, Eileen Boland, Dario Chinigo, Ryan Gibbons, Michael Krey, Bruce Feffer, Colin Busteed, Tom Behrens (Borough Planner), Robert Costa (Engineer), Stephen Depken (Land Use Zoning Officer), Brian Chewcaskie (Land Use Attorney), Ed Alter (Land Use Clerk)

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