Maplewood is moving ahead with a plan to acquire land behind seven retail businesses on Maplewood Avenue, in a bid to gain permanent access to parking spaces and allow for the construction of an extension to the sanitary sewer line for the Post House development.
The Township Committee voted unanimously at its Tuesday meeting to accept an appraisal from the Hendricks company and to authorize township counsel Roger Desiderio to continue negotiations with the property owners. The town has made offers to the owners of the properties (three of which are owned by one person, Saul Fischer).
Mayor Vic DeLuca explained that for roughly 40 years, the town has leased the properties for five years at a time. After recent discussions with one of the property owners about extending the lease for another five years “it became evident there would be a significant bump in what we’re paying for the lease” and the township decided that it would be more economical for the town to own the land outright.
In addition, no future owner could hold up a property and get into a “protracted debate” with the town that might affect parking on Maplewood Avenue, said DeLuca.
The businesses affected are: Village Coffee, Lorena’s, Maria Cardona Optometrist, Kokoro, Anthony Garubo Salon, Shenanigan’s Toys and Arturo’s Pizzeria. The total amount of the purchases for the township would be roughly $640,000. The township released a copy of the appraisal report on Wednesday, which can be found on the Village website.
The developer, JMF Properties, needs to construct a sewer bypass from Maplewood Avenue to Baker Street to not place additional strain on the existing sewer line. Desiderio said in a phone interview with the Village Green that the sewer line “is not the driving factor; the parking is” and the sewer would be a “byproduct” of the deal.
DeLuca noted that the purchase would not affect the ownership of the properties themselves, only the parking areas behind them.
“The Township Committee hopes to hear from [the property owners] early next week,” said Desiderio. If a deal cannot be reached, the issue will go back to the governing body.
In other Post House business, the TC voted to allow the creation of a designated loading zone in front of Kings, which would allow the store to continue to receive truck deliveries during the construction project. The zone would be in effect from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday.
In addition, the TC agreed to allow the developer to house one or two temporary trailers in Ricalton Square. The trailers would be moved behind the building once demolition and framing are completed, at which time the developer would be responsible for returning the park to its pre-trailer state. DeLuca said the passageway to Memorial Park would not be blocked by the trailers when they are placed behind the building.