We Say Gateway, They Say Alleyway?

Big development is many parts policy and many parts pictures.  We recently wrote a few angles on policy in connection with the Clarus Maplewood dumpster and grease trap requests.   In this post we discuss the community “give” that is being sought by the developer with the help of a site plan picture.

The key public benefit at the Clarus Maplewood site, long anticipated, is the creation of a new “Gatewayproviding improved traffic and pedestrian flow in the area behind the building.   The design is intended to improve the experience moving north-south (Ricalton Square to Baker Street) and east-west (Memorial Park to Maplewood Avenue).

As the design has evolved, however, the Gateway has taken second billing to a variety of other issues, the latest being the request to add dumpsters and a grease interceptor centered about the NJ Transit tunnel, the focal point of the Gateway.


Letters in the figure above call attention to several concessions already made by the public.

(A)  In October, 2015 the existing drive aisle was narrowed by 10 feet when Clarus was moved south to re-establish the width of the existing driveway near Ricalton Square.   Traffic flow and the site-lines at the Gateway were compromised as a result.

(A)  The building owner was required to provide one parking space for every 400 square feet of retail.  For a 4,000 square foot business that meant 10 spaces.  The restaurant, however, will create a parking demand well in excess of 60 spaces.¹   The parking space deficit will reduce availability for established businesses and result in congestion due to “search time” used by those looking for a parking.

(B) In September, 2015 a section of Ricalton Square was given to the developer as a truck loading zone (terms: $5,000 easement).  Introduction of a restaurant will require daily deliveries to be transported from the loading zone to the restaurant service entrance, detracting from the Gateway design and adding to congestion.  Alternatively, trucks may choose to park directly at the Gateway, forgoing use of the loading zone.

(C) Seven dumpsters are proposed for location [C], which is nearly 100 feet from the restaurant service entrance.  Loading and unloading these dumpsters will obstruct traffic, and detract from the Gateway.  Additional concerns regarding aesthetics, odors, vermin, and long-term maintenance/sanitation are a further burden on these public areas and the 100 foot path used to reach the restaurant.  The dumpsters and loading zones were at first required to be located next to the building, but decisions in 2015, and the current requests, have overlooked the public good and allowed locations [B] and [C], widely separated and far from the building itself.

Finally, the grease interceptor (shown as red dots near the Gateway) located next to the pedestrian crosswalk, requires regular service and raises traffic flow, odor, and long-term maintenance concerns.

The Gateway, meant as a first step in improving the area extending from Baker Street to Ricalton Square, has, over time, been chipped away at by developer needs.  Indeed, the Gateway could be better termed an alley way based on its proposed uses.

The request to add dumpsters and a grease trap in the vicinity should be withdrawn, and a more comprehensive solution sought that includes managing these nuisances on the Clarus property in accordance with modern practices.

PLANNING BOARD MEETING:  Tuesday, February 14th, 8PM, Town Hall

¹Ordinances that apply elsewhere in town require one space per 3 seats, or one space per 50 square feet of total area, whichever is larger.  The applicant indicated at a Village Alliance meeting that seating would be 150, suggesting 50 spaces needed.   The 4,000 square feet divided by 50 indicates that 80 spaces are required.   Similar figures can be found on line.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s