Focus on microbrewery parking, next ZBA session on October 5 – Pascack Press & Northern Valley Press
WESTWOOD, NJ â The next Zoning Board hearing will be on October 5th at 8:00 pm. Depending on council concerns and the time allotted, the zoning council could then vote on the request.
A third virtual hearing on the revised microbrewery application was held on September 14, with more than 50 participants logged in for a one-hour discussion that focused on rooftop occupancy, noise issues, lighting and heating. parking available during downtown rush hours.
The proposed microbrewery is named Five Dimes Brewery in honor of the former company, LN Grand Five and Dime, which occupied the site for six decades, said Christopher Alepa, director of 247 Westwood Avenue LLC. Alepa is a local chiropractor and owner of Select Wellness.
The microbreweries were considered as an authorized use following the review by the town planning council of the borough’s land use planning and development regulations.
After months of hearings, several changes to the master plan, mentioned in a review report on June 25, were brought to the attention of the mayor and council.
A tasting room affiliated with a winery or brewery as a permitted use would be subject to the same restrictions as a downtown restaurant. There are new possibilities for use on roofs.
Green roof options depend on cost
A letter submitted on September 11 by candidate architect Vincent J. Cioffi, responding to previous concerns, noted that all zoning board submissions “are at the schematic level” and that the applicant “respectfully reserves the right to eliminate the green roof if desired for reasons due to the possibility of prohibitive construction costs or other reasons that make a green roof impractical or feasible.
Cioffi said the plaintiff can substitute âartificial turf and potted plants or landscaping or a combination of bothâ on the green roof. The architect said the final construction costs – available after hypothetical project approval – will determine the final green options used on the roof.
Discussions continued on lighting, limiting maximum rooftop occupancy to 40 people and people exiting tables on the rooftop and atrium after closing time. Approximately 15 minutes after the final closing time (10:00 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday) rooftop customers will be allowed to leave the rooftop after closing hours.
The rooftop atrium of the proposed brewery will house 14 of the 28 guest seats that will occupy the rooftop and the atrium will be open year round. At any one time, there will be no more than 40 customers on the roof, sitting or standing, according to state-revised plans presented on August 3.
Council planner Steve Lydon asked Michael Maris, candidate traffic and parking expert, Michael Maris Associates Inc., Mahwah, about a study on parking in June 2020. Maris said the investigations on which the parking study was based were conducted based on data provided by Alepa who carried out his counts in February and early March, before the Covid-19 store closings.
Maris said the average person would walk up to 1,000 feet to get to a restaurant, which is just over four minutes on foot. He said his study found no less than 82 parking spaces available during rush hour.
Lydon asked if Maris had looked at other so-called “limited breweries” near a downtown central business district, similar to Westwood. Maris said when he was detained many offices and businesses were already closed due to the pandemic.
He said a large, limited brewery near Giants Stadium was also closed at the time and could not be used for comparison.
A possible curbside drop-off area for customers coming in carpools has been suggested, but concerns about pedestrian and traffic safety, and reduced parking nearby, seemed to rule out the future possibility.
Maris said the proposed brewery “probably [doesnât] want to do that âand suggested that the management of the brewery let the carpool drivers [such as with Uber and Lyft] drop clients off in the rear parking lot of the establishment.
Resident Joseph Blundo, a nearby business owner, questioned Maris’ estimate of non-auto customers making up about 20 percent of the brewery’s customer base. He wonders if this is verified statistically.
In response, Maris cited a hotel study he conducted in Hoboken that found that 30% of customers get there by carpooling, public transport and on foot.
Blundo questioned the data Alepa provided for the parking study, noting that Alepa had a “vested interest” in the results of the parking study. Maris said the parking data presented by Alepa was “legitimate and appropriateâ¦ otherwise I would not have used it”.
Maris said Alepa’s parking surveys were conducted from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
During the August hearing, Cioffi explained that the newly proposed rooftop atrium would help protect nearby neighbors from possible noise or light on the rooftop and that a barrier on one side of the atrium could help protect neighbors from noise and light.
“The applicant believes that the addition of the atrium enclosure, reduced hours of operation and seating limitations will address any concerns that may be raised and make it a much improved application,” said the plaintiff’s attorney, John J. Lamb, in a statement. July 22 letter to the Zoning Council.
Alepa said on August 3 that the brewery will offer customers pretzels, chips and nuts – not a food menu. He said customers are likely to bring take out food from nearby restaurants.