St. Georges Ave. site gets OK for improvements

The Planning Board unanimously approved a minor site plan and variances that will allow improvements to the exterior of a St. Georges Avenue building and reconfigure its parking area.

The board voted 5-0 at its meeting on Aug. 30 to approve application 03/16 for 1713-1727 St. Georges Ave., at the corner of Union Street. The applicant previously proposed a plan in 2009 to subdivide the currently vacant space into four separate retail spaces. The board rejected that application.

Attorney John DeNoia said all of the conditions of the site are existing but the application is only enhancing the exterior as well as improving the parking design.

The 19,305-square-foot building has three existing tenants — Vanity Perfections hair salon, Domino’s pizza delivery store, and Panda China takeout restaurant — and one vacancy that will be filled by a beauty supply store.

The application was approved with two conditions: revise the lighting plan to avoid spillage and replace the Dumpster with a canned enclosure for the commercial tenants.

st-georges-across-unionArchitect Greg Waga testified that the obelisk that has adorned the roof for many years would be removed to create more uniformity along St. Georges Avenue. A vinyl or fabric awning would help disguise any elements that are not contiguous, he said.

The parking area, which currently has about 13 spaces, would be reconfigured to improve flow and allow for 21 spaces in all, according to engineer Christian Cueto. The site would still need a variance because the B-2 zone requires 32 parking spaces.

Whatever retail use goes in the space will require variances, planner Anthony Gallerano said. The previous use of the site, furniture retail, required one parking space per 500 square feet while general retail requires 1 space per 200 square feet. There is on-street parking in the area though Gallerano said they can’t rely on that.

The site is an existing nonconforming use, Gallerano said, with many of the same variances needed, including buffers, front and side yard set backs, and parking, among others, although the parking would be an improvement of about eight spaces.

Planning Board member and Mayor Samson Steinman said trash around the Dumpster area has been a major concern for residents.

st-georges-from-unionUnion Street resident Stefan Williams spoke in favor of the application. A similar application in 2009 sought to subdivide the space into additional retail but that didn’t include the physical improvements or more parking, he said. It’s a step in the right direction, as is the improved facade that will alleviate the current eyesore. He still had some concerns about street parking, which is at premium in the Union Street neighborhood because of two-family homes that lack driveways, and unacceptable levels of trash, suggesting a trash can be installed near the property.

The site (Block 210, Lot 9) is assessed for $490,000 and has a property tax bill of about $32, 467, according to property records. Plainfield-based Adidan Properties, LLC, acquired the property in 2004 for $1.025 million.