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Dunnell Road Construction Proposal Divides Maplewood Planning Board

Jaime Alicea

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 • 9:09am

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - “You’re in for a big night,” said Maplewood Planning Board Consultant Robert Bratt.  Nine members of the Maplewood Planning Board gathered Tuesday night for the continuation of a proposal that would subdivide three existing lots into five lots from 67-79 Dunnell Road, each to contain a two-family house.  

The meeting began with project designers from Clawson Architects asking licensed engineer and architect Rich Keller to speak.  Keller explained the revisions that had been made to accommodate the members’ suggestions made in the previous meeting on Feb. 11. 

Many board members had issues with the idea of the houses being so close to each other and the matter of the fire department parking lot being so close to the homes. 

Architect Marvin E. Clawson who is overseeing the project gave examples of similar projects being done elsewhere, including Queens, N.Y., that have been successful.  Clawson described how the revisions on this project will promote open space, complement Dunnell Road, and present no detriment to public health.   

Maplewood Avenue resident Beth Daugherty disagreed, saying, “I think the project is inappropriate and that it would negatively impact neighbors’ privacy.”

As the board debated the issue, there was clearly a split, as some argued that the houses were too close to each other, while others were in favor of the project and believed it would benefit Maplewood.  The vote came down to just one member, as the board approved the project with a 5-4 vote.

When asked about the board’s tight voting on this project Mayor Victor DeLuca responded, “That was crazy.  What was it, a 5-4 vote?  I don’t think there was a planning board like that ever.”    

   - The reporter is writing for The Alternative Press as part of the journalism program at Kean University.

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