Parking is Latest Riverbend Issue for New Providence Planners
Wednesday, January 18, 2012 • 6:12am
NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Planning board concerns about the ability of residents of the proposed Riverbend development to safely back vehicles out of their parking spaces dominated Tuesday’s hearing on the 22-unit project.
Riverbend includes four affordable housing units and is subject is a development agreement from the late 1980s that certifies the units as part of the borough’s affordable housing plan.
The hearing on the application will continue Feb. 14 when the applicant’s engineer and architect will be on hand to address storm water management and building height issues. Testimony on the application is expected to be complete at that time.
On Tuesday traffic engineer Al Simoff provided the board with diagrams showing how residents of certain units would have to back up some distance - in the case of one unit, 50 feet - to be able to exit the property.
The site, which is in the shape of a U, is constrained by a stream along South Street and an existing unrelated rental property that would remain in the center the development. There are 51 planned parking spaces tightly packed around the semi-circular driveway that has two entrances on Mercer Avenue.
The nature of the site is responsible for the seemingly awkward maneuvers to exit parking spaces, Simoff said.
Simoff said that despite the layout, the site is designed to be safe for drivers and pedestrians. The low volume of traffic at the site is a factor in his determination, Simoff said. He said his study estimated that there would be 13 cars during the evening rush hour and three cars during the morning rush hour, or one car every 10 minutes during high traffic times.
He said he estimates the driving patterns based on federally issued guidelines and used as models a 20-foot car and a 30-foot truck, both of which are longer than most current models.
Mayor J. Brooke Hern asked, “Is this conventional?” Simoff said the shape and size of the lot is driving many of the parking decisions.
“Is this optimal?” Hern asked.
Simoff replied, “This is going to happen one or two times a day, It’s not a problem.”
Board member Nadine Geoffrey was concerned with how the occupants of building four, which because of site design issues, is set apart near Mercer Avenue from the other units with differently configured garage and driveway arrangements, would enter and exit the site.
She asked whether any children in those units would be safe with the current driveway configuration.
Margaret Carrasco, owner of the home that would be surrounded by the development, wondered if there was enough space between the parking spaces and her property to ensure the safety of any children living there.
Simoff said the design is safe.
“If you live here you are aware of your neighbors, whether there may be children,” Simoff said. “You have a higher level of cognition.”