Proposed apartments pass first review stage

NUTLEY –

In a split vote, the Nutley Zoning Board of Adjustment voted to grant several land use variances in support of a mixed-use development at 434-438 Centre St., between Prospect St. and N. Franklin Ave.

Summit Properties LLC and principal Frank Oliver must still secure site plan approval before actual construction can begin, however.

The developer proposes to build a 23-unit, three-story residential building with 40 on-site parking spaces with an 870-square foot office space on the first floor.

Plans call for three two-bedroom apartments and nine one-bedroom units on the second floor and, on the third floor there will be two 2-bedroom units and nine one-bedrooms.

The applicant was represented by Nutley attorney Thomas DiBiasi.

Board chairman Frank Graziano and board members Gary Marino, Mary Rubino-Ryder and Peter Sirica voted to approve the developer’s application.

In opposition were board vice chairwoman Suzanne Brown and member Thomas DaCosta Lobo.

There was discussion about how the development might impact the local school system in terms of how many school-age children the project might generate, especially with the Board of Education holding a November referendum on relieving existing overcrowding.

However, a majority of the board members concluded it was not essential to take testimony from a school demographer.

Density and traffic congestion were also issues that the zoning board considered.

DiBiasi said that, based on information received from the school board about two other multi-family developments near the project site, only one public school student came from those sites.

In the end, the zoning board opted to allow the applicant to deviate from certain land use regulations for an R-2 zone that prohibit mixed-use properties, limit the height of buildings in an R-2 zone to two stories, mandate a minimum 30-foot rear yard setback (versus the applicant’s 20-foot-7-inches), require a minimum 6-foot side yard setback (the applicant proposes 4-feet-10-inches) and sets maximum lot coverage at 45% (vs. the applicant’s 58%).

But the board conditioned its approvals on the applicant’s submission of a site plan application before considering a variance for curb cuts and shutters, arranging for private trash collection, limiting the building’s elevation to 35-feet-four inches and providing a 20% share of affordable housing “if required.”

Several members of the Board of Education attended the meeting, along with Mayor Joseph Scarpelli and Public Safety Commissioner Alphonse Petracco.

– Ron Leir 

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.