Representatives from The Grove catering hall asked the Cedar Grove Planning Board Tuesday night to add 39 parking spaces to its venue and to allow off-site parking.
The Cedar Grove Planning Board is expected to vote on the measure at its Sept. 18 meeting.
In the past, representatives from The Grove and the township have had an adversarial relationship.
Residents have charged overflow parking from the catering hall causes parking and traffic issues in the streets surrounding the business.
In September 2011, Cedar Grove police were forced to close down several lanes of Pompton Avenue (Route 23) when Grove guests attending a wine tasting were crossing the roadway at dusk and creating a dangerous situation.
On Sept. 20, 2011, residents also complained the maximum number of guests at an event exceeded the maximum number of allowed guests. Police and fire officials, including Fire Chief John Bannon, denied the maximum occupancy was exceeded.
Tuesday night, The Grove asked the planning board to allow them to add additional spaces to their lot, including 20 hydraulic parking lifts to be housed underground.
To add the spaces, they will need to cut into the buffer zone between the business and the adjacent properties. The Grove also asked the planning board to approve their use of 67 off-site parking spaces.
According to The Grove’s attorney, Victor Herlinsky, they came before the board because they are trying to prevent future traffic and safety issues caused by large events at the site.
“We had some events (when The Grove first opened) where we were getting to know our operations and they didn’t (go well),” Herlinsky said. “We had trouble with the town and … we’re trying to be good neighbors.”
“We haven’t had (those problems) for almost a year now,” he added. “We welcome the town’s input. If we ever do come up to the (facility’s maximum occupancy of) 726… (We want to) be ready to handle that.
Frank Ingram, a board member from the nearby condominiums on Little Falls Road, said he inspected the buffer zone between The Grove and his property and he and fellow residents saw no problem with the proposed parking lot extension.
However, Ingram’s group did have a problem with the aesthetic of the hydraulic parking lifts, which The Grove agreed to move underneath their building.
“The only reason why we changed this plan,” said Herlinsky, “is because the public came in and said, ‘We don’t really like it this way.’”
The Grove needs approval to use 50 spaces at the Macedonian Church at 1050 Pompton Ave. and 17 spaces at the former site of the La-Z-Boy Furniture store at 218 Little Falls Road.
When resident Margaret Medding asked if using the 17 spaces at the La-Z-Boy site was good judgment or sustainable, Herlinsky said The Grove could always buy the building or if another business moved in, they could come up with an agreement with the new owners to use the property during off-peak hours. They currently have an agreement with the property’s owner, allowing them to use the lot.
The La-Z-Boy site and the site at the Macedonian Church would most likely be used for employee parking, according to Herlinsky. Employees would arrive before their shifts and be shuttled to The Grove from either site.