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Fitness Center Approved by Board of Adjustment for Former Youth Center Building

Bob Faszczewski

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 • 7:50am

SUMMIT, NJ - The building at 2 Walnut St. that was formerly owned by the city and operated first as a city youth center and then as a youth facility leased from the city by the Summit YMCA will become a privately operated fitness center, thanks to the approval on Monday by the Board of Adjustment of an application by Elevated Fitness.

Zoning board members expressed some concern that the parking lot on the site could sufficiently accommodate the arrival and departure of vehicles belonging to those attending classes at the facility, but an agreement by the owner of the facility to increase the intervals between classes from 10 to 15 minutes seemed to allay most of those concerns.

Also, a disagreement arose about a handicapped ramp leading into the parking lot from the building, with the city zoning officer favoring its removal and the city engineer against the removal. It was agreed the ramp would remain, but the approval of the application was conditioned on a repair plan to be approved by Summit Construction Official Gary Lewis.

In the end, only board vice-chairwoman Sandra Bloom voted against approval of the application, saying the building was more suited to a facility that would have those using it remaining in the building most of the day rather than coming or going frequently.

Bloom also said she was concerned about the difficulty vehicles would face in trying to maneuver in the parking lot, the fact that there is little on-street parking near the facility and the fact that traffic from the fitness center would be emptying onto busy Summit streets nears Broad Street.

On another matter, the board delayed action on another large application, that of Providence Crossing, LLC, because there were not enough board members at Monday's meeting who either had attended hearings on the application or who read most of the transcripts of the hearings on the application.

Providence Crossing, LLC has proposed a 14-unit residential and retail complex at 785 Springfield Ave.

The board of adjustment is expected to vote on that application at its Sept. 16 session.

In another action at Monday's meeting, the zoning body gave unanimous approval to the construction of an 800-square-foot addition to the Pilgrim Baptist Church at 77 Morris Ave. The addition is expected to house administrative offices for the church's trustees, a changing room for choir members, a classroom and multi-purpose room and storage facilities, according to the Rev. Ronald Allen, Sr., the church's pastor.

The church required a variance because the new facility will have a sideyard setback of only 14 feet, when a setback of 14.5 feet is required.

Board members who spoke in favor of the application said they believed the additional facility would help the church better fulfill its mission and they were glad the proposed structure would decreased the impervious coverage of the church's building lot.

In addition, the church will move an existing shed closer to an improved trash receptacle area and plant additional trees as a buffer to a resident that is next to the church area.

According to William Hollows, planner for the church, the flying buttresses on the existing church building also will shield the addition so it will be barely visible from Morris Avenue.

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