PB Meeting Minutes 05-20-19

Call to Order  

Chair Wynn called the meeting to order at 7:40 pm and announced that the meeting has been properly noticed in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act and that the meeting is being recorded and can be viewed on the Township website or on Channel 34. 

Roll Call

Chair Wynn, Vice Chair Brodock, Councilor Schlager, Mr. Cook, Mr. Schwartz, Ms. Willis, Mr. Rooney, Mr. Ianuale, Ms. Loughman, Mr. Barr and Mr. Gilmer were present.   Board Attorney Arthur Neiss, Board Engineer Joseph Vuich and Planning Director Janice Talley were also present. 


A motion to approve the minutes from the April 29, 2019 meeting was made by Chair Wynn, seconded by Ms. Willis and approved with Mr. Rooney abstaining.  A motion to approve the minutes from the May 6, 2019 meeting as amended was made by Chair Wynn, seconded by Vice Chair Brodock and approved with Mr. Cook and Mr. Ianuale abstaining.

Chair Wynn announced that Application 2606: Adaline Moster Property LLC – 403-405 Bloomfield Avenue will not be heard as the applicant has requested that the application be carried to the June 10th meeting.

Application 2609:  Shilling Choe, LLC – 123 Watchung Avenue.  (Block 3402, Lot 11).  Minor site plan to add carport

The applicant was represented by David Owen, Esq.  Harvey Shilling, co-owner of the property, was introduced and sworn in.   Paul Sionas, the licensed architect and planner for the project, was also introduced and sworn in.  Brian Kelly, the solar panel contractor from Seabright Solar in Ocean Township, was also sworn in.

Mr. Sionas described the project. The applicant proposes to install a roof over the parking area to the rear to create a carport.  The carport is located 2 feet, 8 inches from the rear façade of the building and measures 72 feet in length and 20 feet in width.  The roof will be supported by a galvanized steel frame with four posts that align with the stripes for the parking spaces.  Solar panels will be attached to the carport roof and LED lighting will be mounted under the roof to illuminate the parking area. 

The parking area will be restriped to provide a total of ten parking spaces including six parking spaces measuring 9 feet by 17.5 feet, one parking space measuring 9.7 feet by 17.5 feet and three stacked parking spaces measuring 9.7 feet by 22 feet.  Four of the ten parking spaces will be stacked to align with the east alley.  A three-foot high planter containing 3-foot high hollies is proposed at the north end of the alley to block the cars from view of the sidewalk on Watchung Avenue.

New trash, recycling, and cardboard enclosures will be provided in the rear yard area.  The trash and recycling area will be six feet tall, comprised of galvanized corrugated steel and located adjacent to the parking lot.  The cardboard enclosure will be 2 feet, 9 inches tall, comprised of galvanized corrugated steel and located adjacent to the southeast corner of the building.

A Board member asked if the pitch of the roof of the carport can be reduced to reduce the visibility of the solar panels.  Mr. Shilling stated that the 8-degree pitch of the roof is the minimum angle needed for the solar panels, noting that a 42-degree pitch is the perfect angle.  Mr. Sionas presented his exhibits that showed that the solar panels on the carport are only visible from the south end of the municipal parking lot as shown on the sight line diagram on page 15 in Exhibit A-9, a copy of which is attached.

A Board member asked if all the solar panels could be placed on the roof of the building, eliminating the need for solar panels on the carport. Brian Kelly responded that there was not enough space on the roof of the building to provide any additional solar panels because of the need for a 4-foot setback from the edge of the roof and space for other equipment on the roof.

The Board asked about the color of the frame for the carport and the applicant stated that it will be dark grey.  The Board asked about the impact of snow falling off the carport roof and Mr. Sionas stated that it won’t slide off the roof with an 8-degree pitch.  Mr. Shilling stated that he will remove any snow that falls off the carport roof into the parking lot or the public alley.

The Board questioned the strength of the solar panels, which Mr. Kelly stated is of the same strength as a windshield.  He noted that construction of the carport should only take one week.  The Board asked for additional detailing on the columns so that the project looks less industrial.  The Board stated that the lights on the property should be on a timer and shielded so that light does not infiltrate the second-floor apartments. 

Mr. Sionas testified that the new light proposed in the alley will illuminate the area at the required .5 footcandle illumination level.  He also agreed to provide a concrete pad for the trash enclosure.  He noted that drainage from the carport will go into the storm drain in the municipal parking lot.

Mr. Sionas stated that the bulk variances for the project are justified as both a c(1) hardship variance and a c(2) variance.  He noted that the dimensional variances are based on hardship created by the existing condition of the building, which was built in 1926, and the land configuration.  He stated that the other variances promote the purposes of zoning including improvement of the visual environment; utilization of renewable energy; promoting the general welfare; and providing adequate light, air and open space. 

Mr. Sionas stated that the stacked parking will be for employee parking only.  He noted that the variances are consistent with the Master Plan which promotes the strengthening of commercial areas and conservation of energy resources.  Mr. Sionas stated that there is insufficient parking in Watchung Plaza which supports the need for stacked parking on the property.  Mr. Sionas concluded that the benefits of the variances outweigh the detriments and should be granted by the Board.

The Board noted its concern about the stacked parking.  Mr. Shilling stated that he needs the stacked parking for his employees, who otherwise would park on residential side streets in the neighborhood.  He agreed to post a sign stating that the stacked parking is for employees only and that no parking is permitted after 4 pm.

Mr. Vuich stated that the applicant must address the leader that drains into the public alley.

A motion to approve the application was made by Ms. Loughman, with conditions including:

  • Removal of bollards for parking spaces 3 and 4
  • Plan needs to be revised if solar panels are visible from the street or parking lot
  • Carport structure is to be dark grey in color
  • A gutter or flashing will be added to direct drainage from the carport
  • Trim on the sides of carport, in keeping with the architecture of the building, will be installed and approved by the Revisions Committee
  • A concrete pad will be provided for the trash enclosures
  • Any roof leaders will be redirected from the public alley and parking areas
  • Stacked parking is for employees only between 6:30 am and 4 pm and may continue only as long as the current owner operates the cafe
  • The pitch of the carport roof will be limited to 8 degrees
  • Light shields will be provided in the alley and the back of the carport (to protect the apartments of the subject property and neighboring building from light intrusion) and will be approved by the Revisions Committee and the Board Engineer.
  • View of the carport from Watchung Avenue will be screened

The motion was seconded by Chair Wynn and approved unanimously.

Council Referral – Demolition Review Ordinance

The Board decided to postpone discussion of the Demolition Review Ordinance to the June 10th meeting.

Payment of Bills

A motion to pay bills except for the April 30th bill from Beattie Padovano was made by Vice Chair Brodock, seconded by Chair Wynn and approved unanimously.


The meeting was adjourned at 10:50pm