Parking Deck Questions and Clarifications as Nutley Planning Board Reviews Seton Hall Medical School
Originally appeared in TAPintoNutley on July 11, 2017
NUTLEY, NJ - More than 1,000 parking spaces will be needed to accommodate the students that will be attending the New Seton Hall Medical School in Nutley NJ. Representatives of the redevelopment project and medical school addressed the Nutley Planning Board on June 28.
At the first meeting on June 28, testimony was provided by several witnesses relating to surface parking proposed on the Nutley side of the 116 acre On3 development, formerly known as the Hoffman La-Roche campus.
Site parking is proposed south of Buildings 123 and 123A, with 1398 proposed parking spaces, 938 of those spaces will be on the Nutley side. Seton Hall testimony was that ‘it is not clear as to what percentage of the building is in Nutley and what percentage is in Clifton. The Clifton-Nutley border presents challenges for the projects as the developers view On3 as one unified project, but as the border runs through the campus with each municipality offering their own opinions.
In other testimony, it was noted that 40% of the building that are in both municipalities are on the Nutley side and 65% of the total surface parking for the building is proposed in Nutley. Nutley Planner Paul Ricci questioned why Nutley was being asked to absorb a higher percentage of parking.
Seton Hall attorney Kevin Coakley opened testimony saying: “The unusual nature of this property is such that there are other approvals that are needed. We do have approval from the Clifton Planning Board issued last week. The Essex County Planning Board has approved the project. Shortly approval from the Passaic Planning Board. That’s where we are with the land use process. We have tailored the project around the development plan so there are no variances or deviations.”
Prism’s Engineer Steve Powers, Principal at Greenberg-Farrow in MA said: “In a discussion with Mr. Hay and some township officials, we went through and calculated the surface area. In support of this application…we reconfigured the access point to Kingsland Road by shifting it over west so there’s a straight shot N & S along the eastern side of building 123A…We’ve designed Clifton St. which provides access to 123 and 123A…Along 5th Avenue we have pedestrian crossings, both in Nutley, to support parking…”
Planning Board member Commissioner Tom Evans quoted a document outlining the tax credits for a proposed parking garage in Clifton: “We [Seton Hall and HMH (Hackensack Medical Hospital)] believe the garage will be completed well in advance of the deadline.” He continued, ‘so that the credits I understand have been obtained, lowering the cost to the builder…before those credits expire, do you believe it (the garage) will be completed?’
Coakley replied: “There is a deadline in the grant that says the garage has to be completed by that date.”
Answering Commissioner Evans questions about the garage, attorney Coakley said ‘It’s designed, it’s priced…I know the firm that does garage designs…the reason they build garages is so people don’t park off campus. And that’s a concern to have not enough parking. Because students have to park wherever they can.’
Resident Rory Moore asked if the school anticipated an ‘overflow’ parking being generated if the proposed lots were full.
Evans asked for testimony from representatives of Seton Hall and Hackensack on their commitment to building ‘this garage’ to which Coakley answered: “We can do that this evening.”
Number Parking Spaces
Kozyra: “How many parking spaces are you requesting?”
Testimony: “I believe somewhere in the range of 1,300 to 1,400. It’s not just the students. 1,100 just represents the number of students. There are a large number of researchers that will be in the building as well as faculty, administration and staff.”
Kozyra: “What are the total number of people that you expect to use the premises? [Medical School]
Testimony: “I don’t remember off the top of my head.”
Parking Garage Proposed in Clifton
Kozyra: “Let’s assume it gets built. How many spaces move from Clifton to Nutley? Do you know?’
Testimony: “Our goal is that we are in a position where we can build that parking deck quickly enough so we would not have to build spaces in Nutley. Calculation we did with your team is 400. That’s my recollection.”
Kozyra: “Are you committed to moving 400 spaces from Nutley to the garage?”
Testimony: “That is part of our commitment. Yes. Subject to approvals.”
Kozyra: “Are you willing to accept this as a condition of approval by the board?”
Planning Board member Mayor Scarpelli asked why a parking variance was not approved by Clifton. Coakley answered: “Because it is a permitted accessory use.”
Scarpelli: ‘They are certainly short on the parking on their side of the property. I was wondering how they find the Township of Nutley to accommodate their parking for the site.’
Coakley: “Because this site has been developed as one site. The municipal boundary line goes right through the building. It would have been foolish to have considered developing the site as two separate sites. In fact, when we submitted the concept plan to the Commissioners, they approved the concept plan that showed exactly the configuration before the board tonight. And the same is true of Clifton.”
Scarpelli: “Do you have any case law you can site for another township…?”
Coakley: ‘You agreed to this redevelopment plan. And such it is binding with respect to compliance.’
Hackensack CFO Robert Glenning testified about the proposed parking deck: ‘We have had a lot of conversations with our partner. I wish that you could hear some of the private conversations. The commitment is there.’ Coakley said they anticipate on update on the approved credits on July 10th.
In concluding testimony Coakley said regarding the parking garage: “The management of the two entities are contemplating putting the parking deck in Clifton. There is whole variety of things in a separate stand alone project in addition to the Medical School. Those things are moving forward but are not yet completed. Once completed by management teams of both institutions, the parking garage will have to go to boards for approval. The executives cannot say ‘we are going to build a parking deck’ because they just don’t have that authority. They have said to Nutley they are committed to using their efforts to build a parking deck. We need to go back to the city of Clifton. Clifton did not approve a parking deck, they approved a parking lot. Hopefully within the near future we will come back to you with an amended site plan that has a parking deck. We are not there yet. This application is as it was filed.”
Erik Lillquist – Seton Hall Associate Provost for Academic Projects and Professor of Law testified regarding the timeline for the medical school opening which would have the first students in classes July 2018.
The meeting was audio recorded by the Township of Nutley and a recorder was present for the applicant. Planning Board Chairman, Philip McGovern did not attend the hearing. Coakley is a a senior member and Co-chair of the Real Estate and Land Use practice at Connell Foley, where McGovern is the Managing Partner.