The Planning Board voted unanimously on Thursday evening, March 24, to deny a request to extend the approval it had granted for the redevelopment of 176-200 Bloomfield Avenue almost seven years ago.
Developer DMH2 LLC had sought the extension because it has not begun construction on its project, a building with both retail space and apartments. When developments are approved, work must typically begin within a specified period of time. The development clock was initially paused because of a lawsuit and subsequent appeal, but when the appeal was ruled on in April 2020 the clock started in earnest.
Greg Mascera, the Planning Board’s attorney, noted that while the state did approve a permit extension measure during the pandemic, developers needed to register to use it and DMH2 had not done so. The Permit Extension Act expired in December 2021. No representative from DMH2 was present at the meeting, so the Planning Board was unable to question the developer about what it has been doing with the property and what its intentions are now. DMH2 owes Verona $69,212.76 in back taxes on the two lots.
The decision to deny the extension does not mean that the project is dead. But DMH2 would now have to re-write its plan to conform with several ordinances approved by the Town Council since 2015: stormwater management, steep slope, tree removal and replacement, blasting, and affordable housing. Both of the wooded lots, which are at the corner of Bloomfield Avenue and Westview Road next to Everett Field, slope down sharply towards the street behind a retaining wall. During its original application, which stretched over three years due to neighborhood opposition, the developer had faced substantial questioning on many of these issues but there were no ordinances in place then to block the approval.
You can watch the portion of the Planning Board hearing pertaining to 200 Bloomfield Avenue in the video below: