After an almost four-hour meeting Tuesday night involving expert testimony, the Verona Board of Adjustment concluded they will need to reconvene Dec. 13 to further discuss a developer’s application for a Bloomfield Avenue mixed retail and residential property.
More than 50 Verona residents attended the meeting to oppose the application from developer DMH2 LLC.
The proposed three-story property would include retail businesses on the first floor with residential apartments on the second and third floors, as well as two parking lots.
The board heard expert testimony from J. Michael Petry, a professional planner and engineer in support of the application, who explained several variances sought by the developer.
The application would require a variance to allow one-third of the building to include retail with two-thirds of residential apartments. The ordinance requires an even distribution between retail and residential spaces.
“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.”
John Dusinberre, an attorney for those opposing the development questioned Petry about the mixed property, stressing wall height, buffer zones and wooded areas on the property.
Dusinberre pointed to several township ordinances that would require additional variances from the board, including the wooded buffer zones.
“The application requires a 15-foot buffer zone and the buffer zone should be kept in its natural wooded state,” said Dusinberre.
Petry and Dusinberre could not agree whether the area should be considered “wooded,” but Petry later agreed a photo of the current property depicts “dense foliage.”
The developer will bring in an arborist for expert testimony during the Dec. 13 meeting.
Verona residents have shown opposition to the application since the beginning, even creating a Facebook page “Verona Against Blasting and Overdevelopment,” which as of Tuesday, had 509 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.
“We are concerned about trucks constantly going by Everett field where kids are always playing,” said resident Kim Shafer.
Mary Purcell lives in one of the properties closest to the proposed site. She is concerned about blasting near her home of 50 years.
“My main objective is to not have my life disrupted for that amount of time and I’m concerned about my foundation too,” she said. “There's going to be months of solid blasting right outside my window and then two years of construction outside my window.”