46 units
Ferarra’s Auto Body and service station is slated for 46 units of housing. COURTESY PLANNING DEPARTMENT

BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
winters@montclairlocal.news

A density issue surrounding a 46-unit apartment building proposed for Ferrara’s Auto Body property on Orange Road will be decided by either the zoning board or the council. The planning board claims that only 18 units per acre are permitted, while the applicant’s attorney contends 72 are allowed.

Developer Brian Stolar wants to build a mixed-use building, “MC Residences,” at 33-37 Orange, in the Montclair Center Gateway area. Plans call for a 46-unit, four-story apartment and retail building on the two Orange Road lots, measuring a total of 0.644 acres and located in between the MC Hotel and the Orange Road parking garage.

But a dispute over the interpretation of language in the Montclair Center Gateway redevelopment plan has the planning board and the applicant at odds over the number of units within an acre permitted in the area.

In the redevelopment plan, under a section titled “Multi-family residential, office and mixed-use buildings on Orange Road” the redevelopment plan sets the maximum density at 18 units per acre for multi-family homes. But planner Janice Talley said the sentence that follows the header was not edited correctly. It states: “The following requirements [18 units per-an-acre section] apply to new multi-family residential buildings with no commercial component.”

“The section ‘no commercial development’ should have come out because we added mixed-use as a permitted use,” Talley said.

At an April planning board hearing, Trautner argued that since the development includes commercial and retail, the density provision did not apply to the application. He claimed that the redevelopment plan calls for a maximum of 72 units per acre.

Board member Keith Brodock said the board’s intention was always a maximum of 18 units per acre for the 33-37 Orange parcel.

At the May 6 planning board meeting, applicant attorney Tom Trautner requested a delay until the language can be worked out. Planning board members agreed, giving the applicant the option of having either the zoning board or the council decide on the project’s density.

Because density is at issue, planning board attorney Dennis Galvin said the application falls under the purview of the zoning board of adjustment. But as the language will require interpretation, Galvin suggested the applicant go before the council first.

Trautner said the council had a chance to change the language in the redevelopment plan in September after the application was filed, but choose not to.

The applicant has 90 days to send the application to the council or the zoning board.

The proposal for the MC Residences calls for 46 apartments with retail on the first floor, along with a rooftop garden, pedestrian plaza and 67-space garage. The developer proposes 28 studio apartments, 17 two-bedroom apartments, and one one-bedroom apartment, and 2,304 square feet of ground floor retail space. Of the 46 units, five affordable units are proposed, including one one-bedroom, three two-bedroom and one three-bedroom apartment.

Parking will be housed in an underground garage accessible from Orange Road, using a stacking-lift parking system and managed by a valet.

The building will have 15- and 10-foot setbacks, allowing for a pedestrian plaza facing Orange Road. The developer envisions a restaurant with outdoor seating for part of the retail space.

The applicant is seeking a parking allowance of 67 parking spaces where 96 is required and for use of a stacked parking system. Maximum height for multi-family, commercial and mixed use buildings along Orange Road is four stories and 55 feet.