Dennis Handel has got a new plan for 176-200 Bloomfield Avenue and he’s taking it to Verona’s Planning Board this Thursday, August 22.
In March, the Verona Board of Adjustment unanimously voted against the first plan presented by Handel’s company, DMH2. It had been before the board for nine months, seeking approval of one so-called D variance and four C variances. The D variance was needed because the proposed building was to be 70% residential and 30% commercial, while Verona’s zoning requires a 50-50 split. The plan had also raised substantial opposition from nearby homeowners because of the blasting and excavation that would need to be done to prepare the steeply wooded lots for construction.
DMH2’s new plan is very much like its old plan. The footprint of the proposed building is the same, but now instead of having three stories, the structure will only have two, which seems to give it the needed 50-50 split between residential and commercial uses. The developer will still clear the lot of its trees and, with the topography of the current lots, it is almost a given that blasting and excavation will be needed to make the new project a reality. Neither the Planning Board nor the Board of Adjustment can, however, deny the project based on the blasting, which is regulated by state and federal laws.
But opponents of the project maintain that the elimination of one floor of rental apartments does not make the project conforming enough to be before the Planning Board.
“We still think that there are many variances that are needed that are not included,” says Jack McEvoy, a resident of Montclair Avenue. There are now 550 members of the Facebook group set up to oppose the project, Verona Against Blasting And Overdevelopment.
The Planning Board meeting will be in the Verona Community Center at 800 Bloomfield Avenue, beginning at 7:30 p.m. It is open to the public.