Planners focus on Russo project traffic flow

KEARNY –

Further review of traffic flow strategies is – for now – delaying preliminary approvals for a proposed 270-unit residential development on the west side of Passaic Ave. in Kearny.

Carlstadt developer Ed Russo has applied to the Kearny Planning Board to consolidate property his company owns at 143 Passaic Ave. with a vacant piece of land at 113 Passaic formerly occupied by Franklin Plastics Corp. to support his next project.

Russo and his team of professionals went before the board last Wednesday, March 1, for a subdivision and site plan approvals but the board voted to continue deliberations on April 10 for further discussion about vehicular traffic patterns.

The issue at hand focuses on the movement of vehicles traveling north and southbound along Passaic Ave., and turning in and out of the project site and the ShopRite, just across the street from the proposed development.

Christopher Minks, the developer’s attorney, said the Hudson County Planning Board – which has jurisdiction over Passaic Ave. as a county road – has gone along with a plan to create three traffic lanes along the Passaic Ave. stretch of the project.

That plan would allow for two 13-foot-wide lanes for north and southbound traffic, separated by a 10-foot-wide lane for drivers looking to turn west into either of two proposed driveways into the project site or east into the ShopRite mall.

Still, alternate board member Mary Rose Cascaes worried that traffic congestion could be a problem on Saturday afternoons when “it does get pretty busy” at the shopping center and that southbound traffic looking to turn into the mall could cause accidents.

Minks said there is also proposed a crosswalk north of the Marshall St. intersection with a flashing pedestrian push-button control box, offering a chance for people to cross Passaic Ave. to get to the shopping center.

No actual traffic signal would be permitted because there would be insufficient traffic volume to justify it, according to Minks.

That disclosure prompted First Ward Councilman Albino Cardoso to express his fear for the safety of people “crossing from your development to the shopping center unless there is a light.”

Asked his view after the meeting, Mayor Alberto Santos, who sits as a member of the Planning Board, said he favored further review “to confirm that this is a safe design for left [southbound] turns [onto Passaic Ave.] in and out of the project site.”

If the project does move forward, plans call for construction, spread over a 7.8-acre tract, of four separate 4-story buildings, each with 70 rental apartments, with a total of 60 studio units, 164 one-bedrooms and 56 two-bedrooms, plus a clubhouse and outdoor pool for residents only, a public walkway along the river and garage and surface parking to accommodate 368 vehicles.

All structures on the site would be elevated two and a half feet above the tidal flood plain and a drainage/treatment system would be installed to divert storm runoff into the river.

Russo’s development firm is also in action to expand his Schuyler Crossing residential project along Bergen Ave., having demolished two commercial buildings on the north side of Bergen to clear the way for 80 new rental apartments previously approved by the town.

In an unrelated matter, there will be new utility infrastructure development in South Kearny shortly now that the Kearny Zoning Board of Adjustment has voted, last Thursday, March 2, to grant PSE&G permission to upgrade a 138-kV switchyard to 230-kV and add a 69-kV switchyard, both at its Pennsylvania Ave. site, demolish an aging electrical sub-station at Central Ave. and Third St. and replace it with a 23/13-kV station and erect 19 new electrical transmission towers, ranging in height from 70 feet to 225 feet. All but one of the poles exceeded the town’s 80-foot height restriction but the zoning board granted a variance to allow that.

The 70-acre project site is located in the town’s South Kearny Industrial North Zone along the Hackensack River.

The new 230-kV switchyard “will support state and region-wide electric reliability and will support PJM planning requirements,” according to the utility. PJM is a power interconnection grid that supports 13 states, including New Jersey, and the District of Columbia.

The new 69-kV switchyard “is a continuing update to support the rehabilitation of PSE&G service territory infrastructure,” while the new sub-station is needed to replace a 1952 facility that “is electrically overloaded and prone to flooding.”

PSE&G will be investing $138.6 million in these improvements, according to utility spokeswoman Karen A. Johnson.

 

Ron Leir | Observer Correspondent

Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc. He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter. He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based W.H.A.T. Co. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, N.Y.