Town Council Candidates: Eliminate one Ordinance (Q #2 from myveronanj)

There are a great many ordinances that are due for updates and changes in Verona’s Code. I would recommend some new code as well. As for elimination of code, I will talk about Ordinance 23-16, an amendment to Ordinance 14-16, which defined the new zoning requirements for the Area in Need of Redevelopment at and around the Annin Lofts properties. This is also an ordinance against which I voiced my opinion before both the Town Council and the Planning Board.

To be clear, I supported the redevelopment of the Annin property and was very vocal about the building maintaining a historic value to our town. I asked that the developers keep the large flagpole on the building, and that they keep both buildings as physically similar as possible throughout their redevelopment efforts.

But when an area is declared an “area in need of redevelopment”, our current zoning ordinance does not apply to those properties. A new self-supporting ordinance is created which only applies to the specific properties within that “area
in need of redevelopment”.

Annin’s new zoning requirements were tweaked and reworked a number of times. With the aid of an independent professional planner, they went back and forth between the Planning Board and the Council. What eventuated was Ordinance 23-16, a revised version of Ordinance 14-16, in which the parking requirements were lowered.

This is the second area in need of redevelopment over the past two years that altered the parking requirements in order to allow for a higher density of units in a larger building.

The parking requirement, according to our current zoning ordinance, is 1.8 parking spots for a studio and/or one bedroom apartment and 2.0 spaces for a two bedroom unit. The revised Ordinance drafted for the Annin “area in need of redevelopment” allows for only 1.4 parking spots per unit, whether studio, one or two bedroom. This is well below the requirement of not only our current zoning ordinance, but also of RSIS Standards.

The standard was lowered to allow for a larger building to be constructed. I think it sets a bad precedent for the future of Verona.

Increasing the size of the building also increases the amount of congestion on the surrounding roadways, subsequently reducing the safety of pedestrians. It could increase matriculation, classroom sizes or perhaps a need for further school staffing. These are only some of the issues that require consideration. And finally it begs the question: do we want to line Bloomfield Avenue with oversized apartment buildings?

Adhering to our current zoning ordinance’s parking requirements, along with RSIS, would aid in the safety of the surrounding schools, properties and neighborhoods. That’s one of the reasons that there are parking requirements in Chapter 150 of
our zoning ordinance.

As I stated earlier, I was never against the development of Annin or development in general. I am, however, against any overdevelopment and the consequences that it will have on Verona’s future.