Board continues to review Chandler Plaza application

Staff Writer

A public hearing on a proposal to build a commercial plaza at the intersection of Hyson and Chandler roads in Jackson is expected to continue in July.

Menzi Properties, LLC, of Staten Island, New York, is proposing to build Chandler Plaza on a 4.4-acre parcel.

The application was the subject of a hearing before the Jackson Planning Board on May 18. Board members previously raised concerns about several aspects of the plan.

Attorney Ray Shea represents the applicant.

“There were a lot of questions and unresolved issues the board felt still had to be addressed,” said Township Councilman Kenneth Bressi, who sits on the board.

The May 18 hearing was the continuation of testimony from a hearing on April 6.

The applicant is seeking municipal approval to construct an 8,420-square-foot commercial building with a restaurant and an outdoor dining area, and two 8,100-square-foot retail buildings.

Upon completion, the plaza would feature a new location for the Mona Lisa restaurant and 14 retail stores.

Residents who oppose the project have said the property stands out as the only nonresidential parcel in the area.

Zoning Officer Jeff Purpuro said the tract was rezoned from residential to neighborhood commercial when municipal officials amended Jackson’s master plan in 2009.

Some of the residents who are objecting to Chandler Plaza have hired attorney Peter S. Wersinger to represent them in the matter.

During the May 18 hearing, board members raised concerns about the project’s storm water management plan, the traffic flow in the parking lot and potential fire safety issues.

Engineer Bill Stevens, who represents the applicant, said changes to the plan had been made since the April 6 meeting. One issue raised in April was the lack of an access road for emergency vehicles.

Stevens said an access road has been added behind the plaza, based on requests from the board and the Jackson Bureau of Fire Prevention.

The access road will be made of grass paving blocks, he said.

“Our intention is to try to maintain or keep additional green space behind the buildings,” Stevens said. “In the end, what one will see is that this area will look landscaped and green, as opposed to being pavement, but it will have the ability to maintain and support emergency vehicles should that need arise.”

Stevens outlined improvements along Chandler and Hyson roads, including the dedication of property to allow for street maintenance. He said a proposed outdoor dining area for one building was reduced at the request of the board.

At present, the plan calls for an outdoor dining area of about 2,000 square feet with a maximum capacity of 32 seats.

Although officials questioned whether outdoor dining is permitted in a neighborhood commercial zone, Shea said such a feature was not specifically prohibited in the municipal code.

Stevens noted that the board had approved similar outdoor dining areas for other projects in recent months.

Additional landscaping that will provide screening for residents who live across the street from the proposed plaza and room for 30 additional parking spaces were also added to the plan.

Traffic engineer Scott Kennel testified that the project will not have an impact on school bus activity or on existing school bus stops.

Testimony indicated the Jackson Police Department reported there were four singlevehicle accidents at the intersection during a 40-month period that ended in April. Three accidents involved deer and one accident involved ice.

Board members said they wanted their professionals to be able to have more time to study the proposal and to conduct an independent traffic study.

“There are a lot of concerns that have to be addressed better or clarified or corrected, and we will look at it again [in July],” Bressi said.