By Jaimie Julia Winters
Montclair town officials will be introducing an ordinance they hope will create safer streets after the Lackawanna supermarket is built.
Concerned that developers Pinnacle and Hampshire Cos., which just received planning board approval to redevelop Lackawanna Plaza, will approach the county for approval to allow motorists going northbound on Grove Street to make a left-hand turn into a new parking lot entrance, Councilwoman Renée Baskerville wants the county to know that Montclair is not in favor of left hand turns on the street.
Plans call for adding an entrance into the west lot on Grove Street about 25 feet from the intersection with Bloomfield Avenue. Site plans show two lanes for exiting onto Grove Street — for both left and right hand turn exits — and one lane as an entrance. Grove Street is a county road and developers have conveyed they have approached the county about the left hand entrance, adding striping for two lanes northbound on Grove Street.
No left-hand turns are, nor should be, allowed into the lot from vehicles traveling east on Bloomfield Avenue, as the painted island does not allow for cars to cross it.
Currently, the parking lot at Lackawanna Plaza is only accessible from an entrance on Bloomfield about about 25 feet west of Grove Street.
With the new development, because motorists could be attempting to enter the lot after turning off Bloomfield Avenue onto Grove, combined with those coming northbound from Elm Street, Councilman Sean Spiller said a bottleneck would be created. It would “certainly cause congestion there and be problematic,” he said.
Planning board members Carole Willis and Carmel Loughman also voiced concerns about the left-hand turn from Grove at the Feb. 11 planning board meeting when the development was approved.
“It is better to it put on Grove Street than Bloomfield,” said planning board chair John Wynn.
The planning board attorney said he was confident the county would give its approval for the left-hand turn allowance.
At the Feb. 19 council meeting, Baskerville announced adding a last-minute resolution to the agenda addressing the concerns by the Economic Development Committee, Pedestrian Safety Committee and Bike Walk Montclair.
“We asked that it be conveyed early on that all the groups involved were totally against allowing left-hand turns moving northbound on Grove Street,” said Baskerville.
“The planner was part of those discussions, I don’t know where that is. We thought at the front end we should be clear,” Spiller added.
The township attorney suggested that an ordinance instead of a resolution be drawn up stating that Montclair is not in favor of any left-hand turns on Grove Street between Bloomfield and Glenridge avenues, and would be in favor of also eliminating the left-hand turn exit out of the parking lot.
Spiller suggested that any traffic concerns would fall under town purview, not the planning board’s.
Even with no left-hand turns coming in or out of Grove Street, Mayor Robert Jackson said shoppers would still have more access points to the parking lot than in the days of the Pathmark, which “was bigger and busier in its heyday,” and could only be accessed from Bloomfield Avenue.
The ordinance is expected to be presented at the next council meeting.