Verona Zoning Board May Reach Conclusion on Bloomfield Ave. Development
Final decision on a Bloomfield Avenue mixed retail, residential development application may be reached.
The Verona Zoning Board is set to continue hearing an application for a mixed retail and residential development designed for 176 and 200 Bloomfield Avenue at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.
The Victorian farmhouse at 200 Bloomfield Ave., along with an adjacent lot was sold to Sparta-based developer DMH2 LLC, shortly before the death of its owner.
The house dates back to the 1890s and would be demolished along with approximately 80 trees in order to make room for a 3½-story building, containing retail stores on the first floor and apartments on the second and third floors, along with two parking lots.
Montclair Avenue residents Lars and Kathy Sternas have sought legal representation from attorney John Dusinberre to oppose the development.
“I'm concerned about noise, drilling, heavy machinery, and sirens going off before and after the blasting,” said Lars. “Our utilities can be shut off at any time without notice and this will go on again and again for months.”
The Sternas' are also concerned about a 26-foot drop from their property to the proposed parking lot. They have often seen children running and playing in the woods by their house, which would be removed if the application moves forward.
“If kids are running and fall they will fall almost the height of my house,” said Lars.
A group of close to 100 residents have been attending zoning board meetings to show their opposition and to testify against the development.
“This project will take years and my home is only 24 inches from their property,” said Mary Purcell, the closest resident to the property's buffer zone. “There will be truckloads right outside my window dumping dirt and loose rocks with dirt strewn about my house.”
The board has also heard testimony from experts like J. Michael Petry, a professional planner and engineer in support of the application.
“In my opinion, the proposal is reflective of the site and the surrounding area,” said Petry. “The proposal being set forth here is more appropriate because the design allows us to separate residential from commercial, keeping all the residential traffic in the back and commercial traffic in the front.”
Verona residents have shown opposition to the application since the beginning, even creating a Facebook page “Verona Against Blasting and Overdevelopment,” which has more than 500 members.
The group’s concerns include the size of the building, the impact demolition blasting could have on their homes and foundations, as well as the impact of parking, traffic and the safety surrounding Everett field.
During the February meeting, Community Planning Consultant and licensed planner Peter Steck of Maplewood testified as an expert witness on behalf of the opposition.
“The ordinances have the effect of encouraging a developer to work with the land,” said Steck. “The application has a different theme and works against the land by trying to pretend the land is flat and cut a shelf out of it and work with what is left.”
Alan Trembulak, the attorney representing the developer, disputed some of Steck's arguments and ultimately requested additional time to “digest” the info presented.
Trembulak said he hopes to conclude at the March 14 meeting and get to a point where the board can make a decision.