Residents voice parking concerns regarding proposed development

Slide provided by Dynamic Engineering shows aerial view of the property where HD Summerhill is seeking preminlary and final site plan approval from the Planning Board on Jan. 23.

EAST BRUNSWICK–More than 200 residents attended a meeting when HD Summerhill LLC’s proposal to construct a mixed-use development was once again outlined for the East Brunswick Planning Board.

HD Summerhill is proposing to construct five three-story residential buildings; a clubhouse that will have a gathering room, a possible coffee bar and an exercise facility; a CVS pharmacy; a Chase bank; and parking, lighting and landscaping improvements at 377 Summerhill Road, East Brunswick, near the Spotswood border, according to HD Summerhill managing member Nicholas Minoia.

Previously the developer’s proposed site plan was before the township’s Zoning Board of Adjustment where the applicant was seeking to construct three four-story residential buildings; however, the developer changed its plans to five three-story residential buildings hence no longer needing the board’s approval for a “D6” variance to exceed the height limit in the zone; three stories are the maximum allowed, according to Planner/Zoning Officer Colleen McGurk.

“Since a D6 variance was no longer needed for the height, the [Zoning] Board of Adjustment no longer had jurisdiction over the application. Therefore, HD Summerhill applied to the Planning Board as a new application for major site plan preliminary and final with C variances,” McGurk said.

The meeting from Jan. 23 will continue on Feb. 5 in the Hammarskjold Middle School’s Jo Ann Magistro Performing Arts Center, according to Planning Board attorney Lawrence Sachs.

According to the application, the developer is proposing 120 apartments, of which 96 apartments (38 one-bedroom and 58 two-bedroom) will be rented at market rates. There would be 24 apartments (one-, two- and three-bedrooms) rented at below market rates as affordable housing, according to Minoia.

“The proposed project is a planned unit residential development which is permitted in the [Town Green] (TG) zone. Pursuant to your ordinance under section 228-118.3, ‘a planned unit residential development in the TG zone shall include a 20 percent affordable units as defined in the township housing compliance plan,'” said attorney David Himelman, who represents the applicant.

Minoia said the existing property is 10.34 acres and contains an approximately 40,000-square-foot office building, which is by any barometer functionally obsolete.

HD Summerhill is a joint venture of Diversified Realty Advisors, where Minoia is a co-founding partner, and the Hampshire Companies. Both firms have extensive experience in all aspects of real estate development, namely multi-family mixed-use projects, according to Minoia.

The proposed plan also consists of outdoor amenities that will include outdoor fire pits, barbecue areas and a lounging area, according to Minoia.

Director of Dynamic Engineering Consultants and engineer Brett Skapinetz is the site engineer for the proposed project.

With 250 parking spaces already on the existing property, Skapinetz said the office building on the property will be taken down and most of the paving will be removed. 

“We propose a parking field to serve all of the uses on the site. Starting with the residential … we are required under the [township] code … to provide 1.75 parking spaces per unit and there are 120 units being proposed, which requires 210 parking spaces,” Skapinetz said. “Each one of the buildings has garage spaces on the face of the building. Between the garage spaces and [the outdoor parking] spaces … there is a total of 217 parking spaces in the area of the residential.”

Skapinetz said CVS requires 66 parking spaces and there are currently 59 parking spaces around where the CVS store/pharmacy would be. Chase requires 12 parking spaces and there are 25 spaces around where the bank would be. 

“When you look at it as a whole there is a requirement of 288 parking spaces required for the entire development,” Skapinetz said. “The proposed plan shows 301 parking spaces on the site … [but] the existing plan out today there are 250 parking spaces out there today, so there is only an increase of 51 parking spaces over what’s out there at that location.”

Business Administrator and Planning Board member Joesph Criscuolo said he had concerns about the proposed plan not having enough handicap parking spots.

“Secondly, is that you are counting the spaces in the garage. … This board and [Himelman] understand my feelings about counting those spaces – your residents are going to use that for storage and there is not going to be enough parking,” Criscuolo said. “I deal with it on a daily basis in town hall … because people come in and they say, ‘I don’t have enough parking in my development’ and they are not using their garages for parking, they’re using it for storage.” 

Planning Board Chairman Shawn Taylor said he was concerned there would not be enough parking for visitors.

On another note, Skapinetz said the proposed CVS will not be open 24 hours per day.

“From an access standpoint, we went from a single driveway that went out at the edge of the CVS pharmacy. … We’re moving that driveway, as far as the proposal, further away from the intersection of Old Stage Road and Summerhill Road and creating a second driveway at the northern edge of that easement line and closest to the Chase bank.

“There is a proposed new access [driveway] since we relocated along Old Stage Road. That driveway is being shifted further to the east but it’s going to have restricted movement into the site. It will only allow right turn movements out of that driveway onto Old Stage Road. You would not be able to make a left-hand turn out of that driveway and head towards that intersection,” Skapinetz said. 

A total of 168 trees will be removed, Skapinetz said; several are dying or died so the final numbers need to be worked on. In the end, the applicant is working on replacing a number of trees on site and for those that it cannot, it will contribute to the township fund.

Himelman said the developer’s professionals will sit down with the township’s professional staff to address concerns related to parking, lighting and outside circulation.

Resident Pam Brandsdorfer said, “There is probably going to be two cars per [unit], I mean unless single people are living in an apartment there are going to be two cars for each apartment. I agree that it does not seem like there are enough spots. Also … you talked about all the garages having a spot behind them, so if the person in the garage needs to get out does that mean the other person has got to come out and move their car let the other car go out and then go in? So that’s going to make … additional movement.” 

Sachs said there would probably have to be a condition/provision in the tenants’ leases to limit the number of cars a tenant could have. 

“I had lived in [an apartment development] for many years and I can tell you everyone had at least two spots. You couldn’t even get in the visitors’ spots unless you went to the end of the block. … I assume, hopefully, you are going to try to get young people and they are going to have friends,” resident Jodi Harkavy said. 

At the ShopRite of Spotswood, at the corner of Old Stage Road, Summerhill and Francis roads, resident Andrea Kozodoy said, “All of those areas, for 18 years that I have lived here, have had major flooding concerns, all of them. So that is three corners of that area. God forbid during a major storm there is flooding in those areas it’s going to put people’s lives in jeopardy. … The infrastructure in that area cannot support this kind of a project.” 

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Contact Vashti Harris at [email protected].