Updated 10:50 a.m. December 17, 2014. See italics.
The Maplewood Township Committee considered four changes to the redevelopment agreement for the Maplewood Village post office site on Tuesday night.
Mayor Vic DeLuca said that the developer, JMF Properties, felt the changes were necessary to make the project financially viable. “In order to get letters of intent from commercial businesses, [the developer] needs to have some certainty…. So what we want to do is to have a plan that makes it possible for the developer to move forward.”
JMF has proposed 23 apartments, about 6,000 square feet of retail space, and shopper parking consisting of around 20 spaces in a new surface lot in the rear of the building for the development of the site. (Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca reports that the current plan is for over 9,000 square feet of retail space, with approx. 2,000 sf in the basement area along the Village Coffee parking lot, and 7,000 sf on the first floor along Maplewood Avenue.)
DeLuca noted that the four changes had been vetted by the Maplewood Village Alliance Design Review Committee which approved them by a vote of 8-0 with one abstention.
The first change is a request to increase the allowed height from 45′ to 52’9″ — an additional 7’9″. DeLuca said that current commercial and apartment standards for ceiling heights were driving the change, as well as an architectural feature on the northwest corner of the building.
Despite the height change DeLuca said the development would still be only two stories high facing Maplewood Avenue.
The second change concerned setbacks. DeLuca said that the Maplewood Avenue setback requirements had been met: “It needs to be 23 feet, and it’s 28 feet.” However, the developer was requesting that the 3rd and 4th floor setbacks on Ricalton Square be 21 feet instead of 23 feet.
“What we’re proposing is that the redevelopment plan say that the 3rd and 4th floor [on Ricalton Square] need to be set back 10 feet from the two story building wall which will allow that 21 feet to take place,” said DeLuca. The Mayor also said that the setback requirement needed to be adjusted for the 4th story setback along the Village Coffee side of the building — from 26 feet to 20 feet.
The third change was a request from the developer to pay $100,000 into the Maplewood Affordable Housing and Rehabilitation Program in exchange for the Township waiving the requirement to provide two units of affordable housing.
The fourth change is subdividing the two lots that are currently in the redevelopment plan, taking out the “Village Coffee lot” since the developer is not using that parcel. “Clean it up, take it out of the plan,” said DeLuca. “That leaves two additional lots which we want language in there that says, ‘At a future date, those lots will be consolidated into one lot as opposed to two lots and there will be a subdivision of a very small strip that will revert back to the Township.”
DeLuca reported that the MVA was in support of the plans. He noted that there was still “a lot more work to do be done” with the MVA Design Review Committee around some of the design and materials. However, the mayor said that these four major changes to the plan needed to be approved by the Township Committee. He said that they would be introduced as an ordinance, then referred to the Planning Board for review, and finally referred back to the Township Committee for a second reading and vote.
DeLuca felt that all this could be accomplished by the end of January.
Committeewoman India Larrier said her one concern was the loss of the affordable housing units; however, she, along with remainder of the committee, voted to move forward with drafting an ordinance.
“Your suggestions are reasonable,” said Committeeman Jerry Ryan to DeLuca,”and we should proceed.”