Prospect Street ‘a suitable location’ for rental complex, developer tells zoning board

57-unit development would include eight affordable housing units

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The attorney for developer Ric Harrison stands in front of plans for the builder’s proposed 57-unit rental complex on Prospect Street.

The proximity to the Ridgewood DPW yard and a sewage treatment facility is among the factors that make the Prospect Street property on which a Franklin Lakes developer seeks to build a 57-unit rental complex “a suitable location’’ for the project, the city planner representing the developer told the Glen Rock Zoning Board at its monthly meeting on Thursday.

The developer, Ric Harrison, is seeking a land use variance from the Zoning Board to build the Glen Park Village complex on two acres located between the DPW, the Ridgewood Water sewage treatment facility, another sliver of property owned by the Village of Ridgewood, and the Sikh Gurudwara on Prospect Street. Harrison had sought last year to have the land re-zoned from single family residential use to allow him to build an age-restricted development, but the Borough Council, after opposition from the property’s neighbors and other town residents, voted not to re-zone the land. Harrison then filed for the variance with the zoning board to allow him to build the rental complex, which will not be age-restricted.

On Thursday, the project’s planner, Kathryn Gregory, who works as a city planner for several New Jersey municipalities, told the board that New Jersey’s Fair Share Housing Center wants Glen Rock to provide 421 units of affordable housing in town to satisfy the town’s affordable housing obligation to the state. Glen Rock, which has little available land to build new housing, has joined a consortium of over 200 towns that hired a firm called Econsult that tries to determine what all the towns’ affordable housing obligation should be. According to Gregory, Econsult has come up with a number of 109 for Glen Rock, and the town and the state are in negotiations to find a figure somewhere that will represent the borough’s actual affordable housing obligation.

“We are providing affordable housing,’’ Gregory told the board. “Basically, what this project does, while it doesn’t seem like a big number, it does provide eight units of affordable housing.’’

The development would consist of two primary buildings, each containing 27 rental units – 16 two-bedrooms, nine one-bedrooms and two three-bedrooms. The three-bedroom units were not in the original plans for the units, but were added to help satisfy the affordable housing requirements, according to the project’s architect, Fred Klenk. A third building would serve as something of a common recreation space, where residents could host events, such as parties. That building would contain three apartments, bringing the total of apartments in the complex to 57.

Residents in attendance questioned Gregory’s assertion that the proposed development is located seven-10ths of a mile from downtown among other things. Board member Bob Bourne asked about the impact of the complex on the Glen Rock school system, and Gregory said according to a study done by Rutgers, a 57-unit development with the same number of bedrooms as this one has would have 114 people living there, including 20 school-aged children, 17 of whom would attend public schools.

One resident, Gabriel Bullaro, of Doremus Avenue, questioned the architect, Klenk, about the buildings’ being made of wood, and was concerned with fire safety. He brought up a fire in Edgewater that destroyed 240 luxury apartments in a 408-unit complex in January, 2015. He asked why the developer wouldn’t build the buildings out of tin or concrete, but the architect said the wood construction of this project would meet the building code, that there would be sprinklers throughout all the buildings, including in attics and basements, and the Glen Rock Fire Department Chief, Tom Jennings, had approved the designs.

Resident Joseph Connor, of Prospect Street, about why the apartment complex has more units than the age-restricted project that was rejected last year, but the board told him the question about the previous project was not relevant.

“You’re proposing to build 57 units in my neighborhood,’’ Connor said. “Whether you think it’s appropriate or not, you should explain why you plan to put on more units in a smaller acreage than you did before, because we live there!’’

Harrison’s experts had testified before the Zoning Board at its January meeting and had planned to testify again at the February meeting, which was canceled due to the Feb. 9 snowstorm. At Thursday’s March meeting, the architect and planner for the project testified before the board, but the engineer and the traffic engineer were not available. They will testify before the board at its April meeting.

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