The developers are asking for a variance to lose 360 parking spots based on the area where they said 30 percent of the proposed development residents will not have a car due to the area being a transit village and close to mass transit.
Photo Courtesy Montclair

By Jaimie Julia Winters

Lackawanna Plaza developers presented a parking plan to the planning board Monday night proposing a total of 457 spots for the retail and housing development, rather than the 817 spots required, relying on the closeness of mass transit and a shared-parking strategy plan.

Shared parking is a land-use development strategy that optimizes parking capacity by allowing complementary land uses to share spaces, rather than producing separate spaces for separate uses.

Pointing to Lackawanna’s inclusion into Montclair’s “Transit Village” based on its location near the Bay Street train station, Dan Disario of Langan Engineering testified that NJ Transit data shows residential developments within a quarter mile of station can plan for a 30-percent reduction in parking, from the standard requirement of 1.8 parking spaces for a one-bedroom residence and two for a two-bedroom, a third of which must be covered.

According to Disario, with good access to mass transit and ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft, people are less dependent on cars and therefore fewer people own cars. He envisioned empty nesters and young professional couples moving into the building without cars.

newish plans
The developers plans to incorporate the steel stanchions from the train platforms into the parking lot.
Courtesy Marchetto Higgins Stieve

With 154 residential units planned for the east side of the Lackawanna development, the developer presented a plan for 230 parking spaces — 130 under the building, 100 in the lot — where 254 spaces are required. During the day, the covered residential spaces would be utilized by employees of the retail, supermarket and medical center on the west side of the project.

He projected that 20 percent of the local employees will not use cars to come to work. But for those that drive, Disario said that “one space can serve someone who lives in the building, and while they are at work, can serve an employee [at Lackawanna].”

Under this plan, the lot servicing the supermarket and retail on the west parcel would have 227 spaces, while a lot in front of the medical center on Lackawanna Plaza would have 30.

Disario estimated that 20 percent of restaurant, medical, retail and supermarket patrons will use taxis or mass transit, or walk, to the development.

According to the engineering firm’s shared-parking plan, the area would be short about 17 spaces, but should only feel the effects of the shortage at peak times, which are 1 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. on Saturdays, mainly during the holiday months and specifically December.

To compensate for any shortage of parking, the developer proposed attendant-assisted parking where cars would either be valeted to the lot in front of the medical center or on the west parcel, or patrons would be directed to park their own cars in aisles.

Christian Sukich of ProPark America, who testified on the attendant-assisted parking, addressed planning board members’ concerns that employees would not comply with their designated parking spots on the east side of the lot and instead take up patron parking, saying that the company would also be monitoring employees’ license plates.

Montclair’s parking consultant, Gerard Giosa, said he saw a “saturation” of the parking lot in front of the supermarket and that the demand would be higher than the supply. He suggested the medical office offer full valet service from that lot.

Board member Carmel Loughman didn’t buy Disario’s claim that the residents will come with fewer cars.

“People still need and want cars even with good mass transit,” she said.

While council liaison and board member Robin Schlager questioned the lack of visitor parking for the building’s residents. At one point it was suggested by Sukich that a pay lot would be offered, but the developer’s attorney quickly countered saying visitor parking had not been worked out yet.

New Jersey Administrative codes require “an adequate number of off-street parking in all developments to accommodate both residents and visitors.”

Plans now also include a four-lane driveway off Grove Street.

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