Site Approval Granted for Next Springfield Avenue Project

Daibes Enterprises will develop ground-floor retail with six second-floor apartments across from the new police station and the new Walgreens.

"This will complete the puzzle at this particular intersection," said professional planner John McDonough, testifying on behalf of 1611 Springfield Avenue Associates LLC at the Jan. 10 Maplewood Planning Board meeting.

Indeed, across Springfield Avenue from the proposed development project is the new police station and municipal court building, while across the intersection at Burnett Avenue and Tuscan Road, the welcomes new customers.

On Jan. 10, after more than two hours of presentations, questions and deliberations, the Planning Board approved the developer's site plan for 1611 Springfield Avenue with the condition that a subcommittee be established to meet with the developer to determine final design elements and report back to the Board. The building is planned to feature a mostly brick facade that will compliment neighboring structures.

The developer had on Nov. 9, seeking approval for the mixed-use residential and commercial development on the southeast corner of Springfield and Burnett avenues but the Board had agreed to carry the review to the January Planning Board meeting due to the lateness of the meeting (at 10:30 p.m., Daibes still had another witness to testify). Daibes' representatives had a conflict on the date of the December Planning Board meeting.

1611 Springfield Avenue Associates LLC is a subsidiary of Daibes Enterprises of Edgewater.

In the interim, the development team made some adjustments to its plan due to preliminary feedback from the Planning Board.

The plans for the site of the old Shell gas station call for a two-floor development with 5,275-square-feet of retail space on the first floor and six apartments on the second floor.

On Jan. 10, all waivers were granted for the proposal including allowing the building to forego designating a loading zone (the developer's experts testified that the delivery trucks for the small retail spaces would be able to use the parking stalls), allowing for 13 parking spaces on the property, and adjusting the setback on the Tuscan side of the property to increase the parking lot buffer.

The project will bring ground-floor retail spaces to the corner — a curious triangular space that presents some development challenges — as well as six second-floor apartments. Six of the on-site parking spaces will be for tenants. Tenants will have the opportunity to purchase overnight parking permits from the town from spaces in the Maplecrest Park parking lot across the street if they desire a second parking space.

McDonough demonstrated, to the Board's satisfaction, that sufficient parking existed nearby to supply the 45 spaces required for a such a development. He noted the 13 on-site spaces, two curbside spaces, 25 spaces available through an easement to the public at the Church of the Latter Day Saints across the street, and 12 parking spaces at the Maplecrest Park lot.

McDonough also argued that the developer had made a good faith effort to consolidate parcels, as called for in the redevelopment plan, but "we can only do what we can do." Mayor Vic DeLuca elaborated for the Board that the adjacent property owner in the redevelopent zone had been resistant to sell and that the Township Committee was not willing to use eminent domain.

With the final approval, the developer can now move forward and begin construction in the spring. The site, formerly a gas station, will have no basement.

A final sticking point in Tuesday night's discussion was whether or not a column at the corner of the building at Springfield, Tuscan and Burnett should be removed or retained, and whether or not, if removed, the upper floor should also be "chamfered" like the lower floor resulting in a loss of 45 square feet to the apartment above.

Ultimately, the Board decided to leave the column and corner design of the building as is, so as not to impact the marketability of the apartment above.


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