Harrison’s next big thing


Concerns about energy issues and parking garage design involving a proposed 260-unit residential project in the town’s waterfront redevelopment area were expected to be addressed at the Feb. 24 meeting of the Harrison Planning Board.

Last month, the board granted site plan approval to Heller Urban Renewal LLC for construction of The Hub at Harrison Station, one 11-story and four 5-story buildings to accommodate a total of 640 apartments, with ground floor retail and amenities, at 700 Frank E. Rodgers Blvd.

It also signed off on plans for an Investors Bank at 301 Harrison Ave., in place of the existing Farinhas Bakery, and greenlighted plans by Fernando Rodrigues to put up two 2-family dwellings at 105-107 Cross St., now occupied by two smaller houses and garages that will be knocked down.

Meanwhile, at its Jan. 28 meeting, the board heard testimony by experts from Hornrock Properties Harrison LLC on plans for a 5-story, 260-unit building with 267 parking spaces at Harrison Ave. and Dey St., now the site of a lumber yard and previously, a home heating oil company, just north of the bridge at the Newark border.

Amenities such as a fitness center and outdoor pool above the parking level, as well as storage space for up to 45 bicycles, are also in the works.

Parsippany attorney Peter Wolfson, representing the applicant, said the project’s design calls for four floors of rental apartments – 28 studios, 122 one-bedrooms and 57 two-bedrooms – to rise over one level of parking.

He said the developer is seeking variances to permit a 23.5-foot setback – versus the 20-foot allowance – along Harrison Ave. and to permit a 10-foot-wide sidewalk along Dey St. as opposed to the required 11-foot width, plus a right-of-way design waiver for Dey.

David Beesley, the project engineer, said the developer proposed to extend the existing walkway along the Passaic River a bit, from the neighboring River Park development to Harrison Ave.

Because part of the development site sits in a flood zone, Beesley said, “we’ll be changing the grade” of the site “by importing soil” to raise the elevation, on the average, some six feet to “elevation 12,” a step above the “required” elevation 11, which, he added, “gives us a challenge of ramping the cars up” to the parking entrance.

With the anticipated raised grade, Beesley said that the “up-ramp” to a gated parking door entrance on Dey St. would be “recessed by two to three car lengths” to allow for smoother maneuvering and less congestion.

A similar challenge, he added, presents itself in providing a stepped access to the building’s lobby while also ensuring ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-compliant access ramps.

Bertin Engineering, the project’s traffic engineers of Glen Rock, have recommended making Dey a two-way street, between Harrison and Jersey, to alleviate potential bottlenecking at the traffic signal at Harrison and Passaic Aves.

Improvements proposed include installation of a new storm water collection system along Dey, placement of a trash room inside the building, furnishing a “Welcome to Harrison” sign and planting of “very tall” trees along the Harrison Ave. frontage and landscaping along Dey, some of which, Beesley said, will serve as a buffer to partly conceal outdoor gas meters which, he added, PSE&G are now requiring to be placed outside buildings. At the same time, however, plans call for an electrical transformer to be situated inside, near the parking area, enclosed in a concrete bunker.

Asked about any environmental issues, Wolfson said: “The only thing remaining to be done is a cap” to cover any sub-surface contaminants.

The board’s planning consultant Susan Gruel suggested that the applicant provide an emergency generator for the common areas of the building to prevent a Sandy-like occurrence where tenants are left without power for extended periods. But Wolfson responded that, “The elevator will never strand anyone in a power failure and there will be emergency lighting. [Having an emergency] generator is not a code requirement.”

“I suggest you reconsider,” Gruel said. “Every other development I’m familiar with has done this.”

The board also asked the applicant to take a second look at the configuration of the parking ramp and the location of the gas meters, although last week, board chairman Arthur Pettigrew said that based on a survey of other buildings in town, the board would likely drop its reservations about the meters’ placement because of the prevalence of outdoor settings.

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