Improvements eyed at Kearny Point

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

The town governing body is poised to adopt a conceptual redevelopment plan for the Kearny Point Industrial Park, after having voted Dec. 2 to introduce an ordinance to approve the plan and is expected to adopt it at a public hearing before year’s end.

Mayor Alberto Santos said that adoption – following the Planning Board’s Dec. 3 approval of a site plan and variance applications in support of the proposal – would set the stage for the town to act on the owner/developer RTL Services’ application for a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) and for RTL to begin work in 2015. Santos said the town will also likely act on a request by Carlstadt developer Ed Russo for a PILOT on a proposed expansion of a redevelopment project at Bergen and Schuyler Aves. for an additional 70 apartments.

The 126-acre property at Kearny Point – originally home to the Federal Shipyard and Dry Dock Co. – fronts along the Conrail tracks and Central Ave. to the west and the Hackensack River to the east, has been used for warehousing and distribution facilities for the last half-century.

However, because of flooding from Super storm Sandy in 2012, “many of the buildings are currently vacant or have been demolished,” according to a report on the redevelopment plan prepared by Heyer Gruel & Associates, the town’s planning consultants.

In its PILOT application filed with the town, RTL envisions an investment in excess of $100 million for a water quality improvement project to enhance the property’s water, stormwater and sanitary sewer infrastructure systems, demolition of existing substandard buildings and infrastructure, a soil improvement program to minimize settlement that could disrupt new water facilities and construction of an impervious cap to mitigate contamination of the site and the river.

As part of the future use of the site, RTL is hoping to deploy a “flex space” concept where “a structure with high ceilings containing an open floor plan … can be modified [with partitioning, for example] to accommodate individual needs of its tenants. Individual areas can be leased for uses such as office space with warehouse, research and distribution facilities and other light industrial uses [as well as] general loading accommodations,” Heyer & Gruel reported.

In another commercial development, the Kearny Planning Board voted Dec. 3 to permit Signature Pre-Owned LLC, a used car dealer at 375 Schuyler Ave., to relocate to 369-371 Schuyler.

Signature owner Victor Castro, represented by attorney Ken Lindenfelser, told the board, “I need a little more room to make [the business] work.”

Castro plans to use an existing one-story, 1,900 square foot masonry building on the new site as an office for himself and three employees and possibly as a showroom for “one or two” of the 18 used cars he’ll have on the 9,000 square foot lot.

The rest of the cars will be contained on a portion of the new property which will also accommodate parking spaces for up to five customers, he said.

Castro’s Scotch Plains engineer Thomas Quinn told the board that the front of the masonry structure will be replaced by a glass front, that a roll-up metal garage door will be installed at the southwest corner of the building and that existing chain-link fencing will be extended along the northern property line so that the entire site will be enclosed.

Board member Michael Martello, who also serves as town administrator and construction code official, advised Castro and Quinn that as per licensing requirements for used car dealers, fencing “must be set back one foot beyond the property line” and that exterior lighting cannot “reflect onto the adjacent property.”

While the plans show a fairly tight configuration for the used cars to be stored on the lot, Quinn told the board that Castro’s employees “will have ample room to maneuver cars in and out of spots.” The process will be eased, he added, by the fact that customers are asked to make appointments so the employees will have ample time to do the maneuvers.

Since Schuyler is a county roadway, Castro must also get approval from the Hudson County Planning Board before he can go forward with the move, Martello noted.

The Observer Staff