Zoning Board KO’s plan for 12 condos at Koza’s

Uncomfortable with a density of 12 units on a three-quarter-acre site, the Zoning Board of Adjustment Monday night denied a concept plan for condos to replace Koza’s Bar, 197 W. Scott Ave.

The board heard testimony for nearly two hours before recessing for 10 minutes to make certain they understood what they’d be approving. There was a concern that if they approved the concept plan, board members would be locked into approving 12 units when the developer returned with a site plan.

Generally, the board endorsed the concept but not the density. “The basis of the application is sound,” said board member Paul Sefranka. “It’s a little too much for that piece of property,” added board member Egon Behrmann.
Under the plan, the 3,100-square-foot building, constructed in 1920, would be renovated and a second floor added with six units on each floor. The 12 condos, for purchase, would be two-bedroom units of less than 1,200 square feet. The developer, Vincent Ginesi Sr., has done similar-sized projects on Lake and Cellar avenues in Clark.

Converting a heavy commerical use to a residential use would benefit adjacent properties, Ginesi’s appraiser testified. A traffic expert anticipated that the condo units would produce 30 fewer vehicle trips during peak hours, and 330 more per day as a commerical use. Permitted uses of a daycare center would be similar, and a bank even “more dramatic activity than the existing use,” he said.

The tavern is in a B-1 zone, which does not allow first-floor apartments, and is surrounded by an R-2 zone (single-family homes) along with a few commerical operations, including a car wash and service station, and a hair salon with apartments above it.

Ginesi’s planner, Nicholas Sottoes, argued that the application’s density of 16.3 units per acre is consistent with the city’s master plan and low-rise zone. “Most importantly, a nonconforming use would be eradicated,” he said. However, City Planner Lenore Slothower countered that the B-1 zone allows a density of only 10 units per acre, which translates to 7.36 units for the Koza’s site.

Two neighbors favored the residential units, with only questions about details of the site, such as fencing and landscaping. Since only a concept plan was being presented, those details would be determined later, when a site plan is presented.

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