Preliminary Hearing On Sullivan Property Set For Monday, June 15th

The property commonly known as the Sullivan property, located at the end of Chestnut Street on Westfield Avenue with the address of 10 West Westfield Avenue is finally scheduled to have its preliminary application hearing on Monday, June 15, 2015 at 7 p.m. in Borough Hall.

The 3.84 acre property was purchased by MAS Construction under the name NJ Developers LLC in 2011 and, according to tax records, paid over $68,000 in property taxes last year. It was previously the car dealership Sullivan Chevrolet until it closed for business in 2009 and is considered by most in and out of the community as the center of town and a key component of Roselle Park’s development.

It was not until this year’s incoming administration had repealed – through Ordinance 2431 – a section of a previous municipal law that prohibited parking between the building line and the street line, that MAS Construction had first scheduled to have its application heard before the Municipal Land Use Board (MLUB). The removed section was part of Ordinance 2298 in 2010.

The proposal for the property had it subdivided into four (4) major sections: an AutoZone, a bank, a fitness gym, and office retail space. The only specifically known business was the AutoZone.

The application hearing was originally set for February of this year but due to an issue with the Star Ledger not printing the legal notice in time, the matter could not be heard at that time. Four months later the matter is set, with the legal notice announcing the application hearing published in the newspaper. This time the notice has one variance absent from the application – that of requesting a variance for AutoZone. Additionally, the current Proposed Site Layout does not have AutoZone at the entrance on Chestnut Street. It is the western most structure closest to neighboring STS Tire Center.

At that February meeting, MLUB President Loren Harms stated, “We’re supposed to have in our hands 10 days prior to this meeting all paperwork. If we didn’t have it, it gives us time to put out a notice that the meeting is not being held. We were lucky tonight that we got a resolution to memorialize. If we did not, we didn’t have to have a meeting. Now, it’s not fair to the residents who might have got the cards, knew that the meeting was tonight, and they show up.”

At that meeting the only people in the audience were Jacob Magiera, former mayor Joseph Accardi, and business owner Jaull Lorem. Mr. Lorem was the only business owner who had to legally be notified since his business – The Roselle – was within 200′ of the applicant’s location. No other members of the public who received notices were in attendance.

Sal Garcia, owner of MAS Construction was at the February hearing and stated, regarding the lack of notice to the newspaper, “I’m as disappointed as you are. It’s a disappointment for us all, to be honest with you. It’s our fault. It’s my attorney’s fault. He should have checked in advance and we didn’t.”

Mr. Harms went on to say,”I just hope you understand where we’re coming from. It’s not anything to where we’re not willing to work with you, do whatever we can to help you, it’s just that it put in a dilemma here right now from what we’re doing right now. We have to have in our possession, the certified cards and also the notification that it was received and put in the paper.”

A date was set for March but Mr. Garcia had stated at that February meeting that he would not be available due to a previous personal matter. In April it was stated that Mr. Garcia had been called away on business. It was decided in February that Mr. Garcia d would re-send notices to all properties within 200 feet as well as the legal notice to the newspaper at his company’s expense.

The original application had included variances. A variance is a formal request to allow departure from a certain regulation or legal requirement that, in turn, permits construction in a manner that would otherwise be prohibited. The four (4) major variances in the original 2014 application were:

  • 40-2302 for Permitted Use to allow NAICS Code 441310 (Auto Parts Store) in the development since that NAICS code is not permitted anywhere in the borough.
  • 40-2305 for Maximum Impervious Coverage since the maximum allowed is 75% and all the subdivided lots had from 82% to 97% covered by blacktop or non-pervious material.
  • 40-2802 for Landscaping/Open Space since no development may have less than 10% landscaping and vegetation and the original proposal had not more than 6% of such requirement.
  • 40-3002(3) and (4) for Primary Sign Size to allow signs to exceed the limit of the size being 10% of walls to which they are attached and to have a primary sign area of 152 sq. ft. where a maximum of 131.8 sq. ft. is permitted.

The North American Classification System (NAICS) codes are used by the municipality to determine what is acceptable and what is permitted in the Borough.

Three (3) other minor variances were included by the Land Use Board’s Engineer and Planner, Neglia Engineering. They are also the municipality’s Borough Engineering firm. Those variance in Neglia’s report were for:

  • 40-2303 for Off-Street Parking since the proposed off-street parking proposed for two of the subdivisions were less than the required parking spaces even though the combined parking count for the overall project is in compliance.
  • 40-2305(f)(1) for Parking since any parking visible from the street shall be screened from view through landscaping and other buffering measures as deemed appropriate by the Roselle
    Park MLUB and screening was not provided along the side of the parking spaces or along the west property line or along the street line to screen the proposed parking between the building and the street.
  • 40-1301(d)(2) to not be bound by the requirement to have Shade Trees installed on each lot so as not to interfere with utilities, roadways or walkways and sidewalks.

In the public notice sent to the newspaper for June 15th, the variance for permitted use is absent from the June 15th Preliminary Application Hearing. In a document obtained by Roselle Park News titled ‘Zoning Analysis’ date June 4th, Rich Belluscio – the municipality’s Zoning Officer – stated that the AutoZone, marked as ‘Building A’ is to be considered a Retail Trade under NAICS and, thereby, permitted since “Retail Trade” is allowed in the Central Business District; this even though he used the NAICS code for Auto Parts store in this narrative. The Borough Code Book lists Retail Trade as:

  1. Food and beverage stores.
  2. Health and personal care stores.
  3. Clothing and clothing accessory stores.
  4. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores.
  5. General merchandise stores.
  6. Miscellaneous store retailers, excluding manufactured (mobile) home dealers.

Additionally, Mr. Belluscio stated that in his review of the application and Proposed Site Layout Plan, the applicant will still need variances for the following with certain changes from the original proposed uses:

  • 40-2305(e): The impervious surface coverage is proposed to be reduced from 100% to 90¾%, which still exceeds 75%.  It is to be noted that the incorrect code, 40-2005(e), is cited. This is most likely a typographical error.
  • 40-2802: A variance is still required but the landscaping area increased from 5-6% to 9½%.
  • 40-3002: The sign variance is still required and the proposed area of 152 sq. ft. remains unchanged and a second wall sign of the same area is being requested.
  • 40-3002(c)(4): Two (2) pole signs are being proposed with one of them having an area of 160 sq. ft. when there is a 30 sq. ft. limit and the other is proposed to be 30 ft. high when the limit is 20 ft.

No mention is made of the minor parking and tree variances previously requested by Neglia Engineering.

The Preliminary Application Hearing is scheduled for Monday, June 15th, in Borough Hall at 7 p.m. There will be a general comment portion and it is expected that there will be a public comment portion at some point specifically for the application.

Even after the hearing, if preliminary approval is granted, the applicant will still need to go before New Jersey Department Of Transportation (NJDOT) since the development is on a state highway – Route 28 or Westfield Avenue as it is known.

Copies of the original Application Package, the accompanying report from Neglia Engineering dated February 18th of this year, and the Zoning Analysis dated June 4th are included below. The Proposed Site Layout was viewed at Borough Hall and photographs were taken of it with permission of the Borough Clerk’s office.