New Providence Planning Board Votes Down Proposed Massage Parlor/Spa Application
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 • 7:10am
NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ -- The planning board approved three of the four new uses for the former McGrath's hardware store early Wednesday after a 5 1/2 hour special hearing.
The board voted unaimously at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday to allow a bagel/deli, a self-serve frozen yogurt shop and the expansion of the existing China Fun restaurant to include 111 seats in a new dining room.
The board did not approve the fourth use, a massage parlor/spa that was the subject of two hours of testimony Tuesday. The discusion about the nature and operation of the business took up the most of the three hearings held on this application.
The applicant, New Providence Global Realty, LLC, had sought permission to convert the former McGrath's site and other empty space at the corner of Springfield Avenue and South Street to new uses.
The board throughout the hearings had questioned the impact of four new businesses, in addition to four existing businesses, on the limited parking assigned to the site.
The board placed several conditions on the approval, including reducing the number of seats in the China Fun dining area from 138 to 111; that New Providence Global Realty work with the adjacent property owners to create a shared parking agreement; that the owner work to create a consistent facade and sign plan that would meet the borough's new design ordinance, that the owner must come back to the planning board when a tenant is found for the vacant space that measures about 2,500 square feet; and that the owner limit the number of restaurants in the building.
Board member Philip Treventi said that the board had imposed similiar restaurant restrictions on a previous application because of a concern about the impact on parking in the downtown area.
But the biggest concern the board had was the proposed spa.
Mayor J. Brooke Hern said the spa was enough of a concern that if it came by way of resoluton, he would vote against the entire application.
For two hours, frustrated board members questioned Cong Rang Wang, who had been identified as the ower of the spa, about his previous business experience, how his business would operate in New Providence and what state laws pertain to his business.
The questions and responses were delayed while each was translated into Chinese and English.
Wang said that his business would be good for New Providence and he was confident it would succeed. He said he had signed a 10-year lease.
Board members said they were confused by Wang's answers and then surprised when he identified a woman, Yusui Hu, as his co-owner.
The board also learned that Wang worked for another person in Atlantic City, had closed a shop in Freehold that he previously said was open, and failed to adequately explain his licensed status as a massage therapist.
Board member Vincent Vyzas was very concerned that the name of the business on the application and the name of the business on blueprints submitted to the board for review were different.
The board first considered separating the spa application and voting on the other three uses, but board attorney William Robertson said that might present some legal issues.
The applicant's attorney, John Delaney, told the board he would like to have them vote on the three other uses, and let him withdraw the spa application and bring it back to the board when he was able to straighten out the issues.
But Robertson said that would mean the spa application was still open and recommended against it.