After two months of deliberations and hearings, the Cedar Grove Planning Board approved an application from The Grove catering hall for 39 new parking spaces Tuesday night.
The board’s 7-1 approval, following a three-hour meeting, is contingent on several conditions being met by the facility including the elimination of grass islands for additional parking, granting certain off-site parking conditions and allowing smaller buffer zones in certain areas.
The board gave owners permission to install up to 16 hydraulic lifts underneath the building, although that condition is contingent on the owners completing that phase only if it is absolutely necessary.
In addition, the board will allow the catering hall to host up to two simultaneous events as long as the start times and end times are staggered and with a maximum of 600 occupants.
Although the building, located at 691 Pompton Ave., has a maximum occupancy of 726 people, the owners were previously only allowed to hold one event at a time, regardless of the amount of attendees.
In the past residents have charged that overflow parking from the catering hall causes parking and traffic issues in the streets surrounding the business. There have also been safety issues where guests have crossed Pompton Avenue (Route 23) at dusk during events.
“We are trying to be as good a neighbor as we possibly can and we haven’t had any problems since our initial problems when we opened,” said The Grove's attorney Victor Herlinsky. “We have been listening to the board and members of the public and we believe this is the best possible application.”
With the approval of the application, The Grove will have a total of 261 surfaced parking spaces and 16 hydraulic lifts bringing the total number of parking spaces to 277. The Grove has also purchased the former La-Z-Boy site across Pompton Avenue for employee parking.
Board member Thomas Burkowski was the only person to vote against the application. He cited the loss of the green spaces, the variances in buffer zones and the use of the hydraulic lifts. Board members echoed his concerns over the hydraulic lifts.
Under the current definition, hydraulic lifts do not fit the definition of a parking space. If the wording was changed, the board was afraid it would set a precedent for the lifts and more would start sprouting up around town. The board allowed the lifts, not as a parking space, but as what they termed “parking supplies,” a term the board used so they didn’t have to change The Grove’s application.
The board also agreed with Burkowski's concerns about the buffer but ultimately approved the application after discussing the issue at length.
“I was not pleased that the buffers are going to be so small but the people that live closest to where those buffers are have no problem with it,” said Board Member Ann Mega. “They have testified and they are satisfied with it, so I am satisfied with it.”