Clark Planning Board pushes back on four-story apartment building

Clark Planning Board members publicly criticized plans, mainly over garbage disposal, for a proposed four-story building three floors of apartments and ground-floor retail for the property occupied by the CVS Pharmacy on Westfield Avenue.

CLARK, N.J. — The CVS Pharmacy located on Westfield Avenue isn’t leaving just yet.

At its Sept. 5 meeting, the local Planning Board pushed back against a proposal to replace the one-story drug store and an adjoining undeveloped plot of land at 60-62 Westfield Ave. with a four-story mixed-use building that includes six apartments and two commercial spaces.

The board was critical of the application by Elizabeth-based developer Spring Enterprises LLC, particularly its plans for parking, trash and snow removal.

“This whole garbage thing has got me baffled,” said Mayor Sal Bonaccorso, who sits on the board. His major concern was Spring Enterprises’ plan to use individual trash cans instead of a Dumpster.

“Twenty-one or 23 cans — that’s ridiculous. It would have to be a Dumpster. It would have to be emptied multiple times a week and sanitized if this goes forward. If you have 22 cans out there, you get one windstorm, they’re going to be blowing all over the world. If you don’t put lids on you’re going to have raccoons, you’re going to have rats, you’re going to have a problem.”

It’s not the end of the line for the proposal, with Spring Enterprises’ attorney Al Andril being told to restructure its application to address not only the trash issue, but where to put snow and where to add parking, and return for another try.

The proposal would raze the current building that houses the drugstore and replace it with another that would feature two ground-floor commercial spaces in addition to six apartments. The apartments would all be identical, each featuring two bedrooms, a study, and a small balcony. The complex would be wheelchair accessible and feature elevators, but would only have one handicapped-accessible parking space.

A major discrepancy in the configuration of the current proposal is that the building has only 15 parking spaces planned, although it would require 24 parking spaces according to ordinances.
The general concern among board members was that using individual small trash receptacles was unrealistic and unsanitary.

Architect and planner Jorge Toll, of Elizabeth, initially planned to place trash receptacles on Joseph Street, which forms the southeast border of the property, but reconsidered using a Dumpster at the meeting.

Architect Jorge Toll, left, and attorney Al Anril make the case to the Clark Planning Board for Spring Enterprises’ bid to replace the CVS Pharmacy on Westfield Avenue with a four-story building with apartments and retail.

Traffic engineer Corey Chase, the principal of Dynamic Traffic, of Chester, told the Clark Planning Board that the proposed building would, at most, generate traffic equivalent to the current volume associated with the drugstore.

“When we compared the traffic generated by the proposed development to that that’s generated by the pharmacy, it’s actually going to generate the same during the weekday evenings, and actually less traffic than the pharmacy during the weekday mornings and on Saturdays,” Chase said “We’re not even close to generating an increase in traffic.”

However, many on the Planning Board were skeptical of the accuracy of those estimates, saying they were based on national averages, not on the Clark location of the CVS.

“Again,” Chase said, “the overall traffic operated by our proposed development fits only 30 trips at the max during the peak periods. And to give the board an idea of the level of traffic generation, the state and national standard identify 100 peak hour trips as a level of significant traffic generation during the peak hour. So, we’re at 30 trips, we’re at 30 percent of that threshold.”

“I’m not convinced,” Bonaccorso said. “I’m sorry, gentlemen … with the cans, snow, traffic. I don’t understand how we’re going to do this with the Dumpster. … I don’t understand how the flow and the parking is going to work with the Dumpster. And I’m not even going to go with the snow. It’s the parking and the Dumpster I have major concerns on.”