Mine Street Project on New Brunswick Planning Agenda Tuesday
A revised plan for a proposed 52-unit apartment building on Mine Street that has been opposed by some residents of the neighborhood will get its second hearing before the Planning Board on Tuesday (Nov. 18).
Construction Management Associates is seeking site plan approval and variances for the construction of a four-story residential building.
Steven Schoch who is the architect for Construction Management Associates said, “the new apartment building will consist of 52 apartments of varying sizes such as single, double, or studio.” He also said that the new apartment building would also feature an underground parking lot, which will have 43 parking spaces.
The original site plan that was submitted by Construction Management Associates has been met with criticism by the New Brunswick Planning Board. The planning board determined that they did not meet several construction ordinances such as parking, building design, and drainage.
New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO), which owns the property on 17 Mine St., hired Construction Management Associates to complete the project. The project will provide some housing relief for Rutgers students, said Mitchell Broder, a principle associate for Construction Management Associates.
“This project was designed to provide extra housing for Rutgers University and the Theological Seminary,” Mitchell said.
Broder also said that the Mine Street development project would generate an extra $130,000 a year in new tax revenue for the city. The residential building project is part of DEVCO’s overall College Avenue Redevelopment Initiative, which will cost $330 million according to NJ.com.
Glenn Patterson, director of planning for the city, said the problem with Construction Management Associates parking plan is the 43 parking spaces are far below the 106 spaces the law requires. Construction Management Associates has said they filed a waiver with the city.
Charles Olivo who is the traffic engineer for the project said, the number of spaces would be adequate.
“Based on the city’s current infrastructure, our 43 parking spots would be adequate to accommodate residential transportation demands associated with this development project.”
In addition to the parking, some local residents, including Jennifer O’Neill say it will destroy the historical charm of New Brunswick as well as commercialize it.
“I believe that this construction project will homogenize the city of New Brunswick,” O’Neill said.
Construction Management Associates said it has addressed the city’s design ordnance requirement.
“The fourth floor no longer dominates the street experience for the building was designed to be visually appealing from the street,” Schoch said. “Taller buildings can be accommodated into existing community designs.”
Schoch also said that the new residential building would be reduced in size from 54,000 square feet to 52,000 square feet as well as be set back farther from the street about 20 feet.
In addition, the project needs to address rain-water drainage issues. Edward Bogan a civil engineer for Construction Management Associates said, “the city’s current water drainage system is in poor condition and needs to be replaced.”
Bogan also said that Construction Management’s revised construction proposal for their residential building would make sure that rainwater would be directly drained from the roof through downspouts directly into an underwater drainage system.
The project has been subject to controversy. According to the New Brunswick Today, the city’s longtime Planning Board attorney Benjamin Bucca is being investigated for improperly using his position to gain favor for his other employer, which is Rutgers.
Bucca has voluntarily agreed to recuse himself from the Oct.14 planning board meeting, said zoning board attorney Aravind Aithal. New Brunswick Planning Board Chairwoman Suzanne Ludwig said Aithal would serve as the interim planning attorney for the project. Aithal also said that Rutgers University has no direct or indirect involvement with the Mine Street redevelopment project.
Thomas Kelso, attorney for Construction Management Associates, said the New Brunswick Planning Board should consider its revised site proposal.
“We recognize the recent ethics complaint against Mr. Bucca,” said Kelso. “We do not believe that the application should be put at risk do to ancillary and unfounded claims.”