CRANFORD — Testimony continued during a special meeting of the Cranford Planning Board November 30 regarding an application by Hartz Mountain Industries Inc. for a residential/commercial development at 750 Walnut Avenue. The main focus of this meeting involved details of what the commercial and residential buildings would look like, inside and out, as well as landscaping.
Henry Kent-Smith, the lawyer representing Hartz Mountain, opened with a previous witness who needed to finish testimony. Mark Chaplin, of Stonefield Engineering, was still revisiting older issues brought up in previous meetings as well as answering new questions. When asked about the widening of the sidewalk, Mr. Chaplin said that while most of the sidewalk will be replaced and widened, the slope of the berm mixed with the mature vegetation on it meant the sidewalk at those places would not be replaced. When board member Diana Sen said she felt the replacement was limited, Mr. Chaplin said 1,268 linear feet of sidewalk was being replaced and widened to six feet while 785 linear feet would not be replaced and would stay at four feet wide.
Mr. Chaplin also pointed out a stairway added between the commercial and residential areas to give people on the commercial side a way to access the park on the residential side. While the board talked about adding a gate for kids, Mayor Kathleen Prunty added that if people wanted to get to the commercial side, they would find a way.
Once Mr. Chaplin was finished, Mr. Kent-Smith brought up Vincent Antonacci, Jr., the building architect for the commercial side of the project. Mr. Antonacci explained that the buildings would only have 16 to 18 docks per building that would be functional and that more would only be added depending on the tenant and their needs. He clarified that there is a possibility for 38 loading docks at each building but it would all depend on tenants’ requirements if more docks would be put into use.
Continuing to explain the exterior designs, Mr. Antonacci focused on the roof. He explained that Hartz Mountain wanted to cover the roof in solar panels. While the panels would not be going up right away, Mr. Antonacci said that once they can assess their tenants’ electrical needs, then they would install the panels. He also said any equipment, including the solar panels, will not be seen from the road.
Mr. Antonacci pivoted from the outside of the building to the interior a bit more. While office space was mentioned, Mr. Antonacci said there usually was not much office space tenants used in a flex space like this. Board members also asked how someone would get to the roof without a staircase, and Mr. Antonacci said they had added one and would make sure a fire official would see it. When asked if there was a limit on how many tenants the building could hold, he said there was no limit but that they had built in five entrances for each building. He was hoping two or three tenants would take up the space, but one tenant would be ideal.
Once Mr. Antonacci finished his testimony, Mr. Kent-Smith introduced Bruce Englebaugh, the building architect for the residential side. Mr. Englebaugh explained that while the plans for both buildings were practically identical, there were some differences between the buildings. The main differences were building A having a fitness center as part of the first-floor amenities area, while building B would have a club room that included a movie room inside as well as the leasing office being housed in building B. Otherwise, the first floor of both buildings include a mail room, package room, work pods and bathrooms. The main elevators also would be located near the entrance.
Mr. Englebaugh explained other features the buildings would have. These include a trash chute going up all four levels, a loading dock and service elevator near the loading dock, specifically mentioned for help moving, and a pet wash for any tenant’s animal. He also noted that each apartment is ADA compliant per New Jersey law.
Mr. Englebaugh also said there was going to be condensers for every unit. When asked if people would see the equipment from the road, he said the parapet that was planned would hide everything. Further, when asked if neighbors to the development would hear the condensers, Mr. Englebaugh said it was more likely they would hear a neighbor’s condenser than the complex’s condensers.
David Lusberg, the landscape architect, then got up to testify. Mr. Lusberg said there is a three-acre space along Walnut Avenue that he hoped would be utilized by the public and the residents of the complex. He explained there would be a quarter-mile jogging path around the area made out of concrete and that any additional paths would be made of the same. The paths also cross the driveway, but he said the place where people would cross would be a tabled crossing. He likened it to a speed bump but said since it was raised for cars, people walking on the path would not have any slope in their walk.
Mayor Prunty asked if they could find a more permeable surface to help with rain water and Mr. Lusberg said they would talk to Hartz Mountain to see if that was possible. Ms. Sen asked about safety issues with the crossing over the driveway and Mr. Kent-Smith said it was an issue they would bring up with Hartz Mountain and get back to the board on Wednesday, December 7.
Mr. Lusberg then moved on to explaining the different amenities and plants the open space would include. Amenities include removable furniture, bicycle racks, fillers for bottles of water and for pets, trash receptacles every 100 feet, and bollards with electrical outlets to charge phones or laptops. Mr. Lusberg then said all trees would be 100 percent native to the area and would include 61 shade trees and 22 ornamental trees. He added that 80 percent of ornamental shrubs and perennials would be native.
When asked how big they would be when planted and how long they might take to mature, he answered that when they were planted they would be about 16 feet tall and that it would take between 10 and 15 years before they hit their maturation. He also was asked if the non-native plants were invasive and said they were not and mainly just perennials that were chosen for aesthetic purposes.
Mr. Kent-Smith wanted to bring up the last witness to testify, but the witness asked to wait until the December 7 meeting so that he could give testimony as well as answer questions right after instead of trying to finish his presentation before 11 p.m.