BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
“It is almost 10:45 p.m. and Mountainside Hospital has bright lights and thunderous paving going on. My house is rumbling, and I am angry,” wrote Carmel Loughman, whose house neighbors the Hackensack UMC/Mountainside Hospital.
In July 2018, the hospital broke ground on a 45,735-square-foot medical office building on Bay Avenue and a parking lot on Walnut Crescent. Because the construction is both in Glen Ridge and Montclair, it needed the approval of both towns’ planning boards.
For two years, neighbors say they have dealt with the dust and debris of the demolition of a former nursing school to make way for the medical office building and some homes for the parking lot, and the noise of construction they claim goes on past the allowed hours of 6 p.m.
Construction, with huge spots lighting the way, went almost to midnight on Tuesday, Oct. 15, said Loughman, who videotaped the workers. She then called the Glen Ridge police, who told her that the construction had just moved to the Montclair side and to call the Montclair police.
An officer showed up and was told that the construction should cease by 10:15 p.m., but according to Loughman, a member of Montclair’s planning board, it didn’t until 11:45 p.m.
Montclair’s noise ordinance states construction activities are allowed Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., including set up at the site, and on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Construction activities or repairs may occur at other times only in case of urgent necessity in the interest of public health and safety, and then only with a permit from the construction official, which may only be granted for a period of three days or less while the emergency continues.
According to both Glen Ridge and Montclair officials no emergency permits were granted.
“No emergency work was performed in Glen Ridge on Tuesday Oct. 15, 2019,” Glen Ridge officials wrote.
Included in the construction are traffic upgrades with a new traffic signal at the entrance area connecting Walnut Crescent and Bay Avenue on the Montclair side. Additional left-turn lanes for roadway approaches on Walnut Crescent and Bay Avenue are expected to ease traffic flow.
It was the rush to get the light activated that caused the late-night construction, according to Moutainside’s marketing director Chiara Marababol.
“The intersection at Bay Avenue and Walnut Crescent had no functioning stoplight at this point in construction and presented safety concerns for cars and pedestrians trying to cross. Per the contractors, paving needed to be completed prior to PSE&G turning the signal light on at the intersection. However, paving the parking lot was required before the entrance and intersection could be completed to avoid damaging fresh pavement. The contractors and hospital regret the challenging conditions experienced by the residents in the area on this evening,” she said.
Neighbors should soon see some relief as Mountainside officials said construction of the Mountainside Medical Office Building is on schedule and is expected to be completed by the end of November. The hospital’s new valet parking lot is complete and operational.
Repairs to the parking garage’s fourth, fifth and sixth floors are scheduled to be completed in December, while the lower three floors of the garage are scheduled to be repaired by Spring 2020.
Since January 2019, Glen Ridge officials said residents there have filed two noise complaints. According to Montclair noise complaints reports, there have been four made in the area of Mountainside since January, two of which were made on Oct. 15.