BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
Planning board members during their meeting Monday, Nov. 4, questioned design styles, solar plans and parking proposals for the 46-unit MC Residences proposed at the former Ferrara’s Auto Body property.
The housing/retail development is proposed by developer Brian Stolar for 0.644 acres located in the Montclair Center Gateway redevelopment area at 33-37 Orange Road, between the MC Hotel and the Orange Road parking garage.
Architect David Minno presented facade design plans that included 10 elements — brick, cast stone veneer, two different metal panels, two different fiber cement siding panels, aluminum storefront windows, aluminum clad windows, wood composite cladding, and a metal canopy. Minno said the design was “traditional yet contemporary,” and said it would fit in with the design of the MC Hotel, Valley and Bloom, and other new developments in the downtown.
Board members pointed to the redevelopment plan that calls for three predominant design elements, contending the facade was too busy. They also questioned why the architect would use buildings such as the hotel and Valley and Bloom — designs they say residents have been vocally against — to illustrate how the proposed building would fit in.
Architect and LEED expert Glenn Haydu presented plans to expand the solar component on the roof from 4,417 square feet to 5,422 square feet, along with keeping a green space and amenity space on the 17,000-square-foot roof.
He said although it’s encouraged, but not mandated to not use the 10-foot set back, he was able to move solar panels there on the north side away from Orange and Centro Verde and add solar panels to the top of the stair towers and elevator vestibule. Haydu said the panels would not be seen from the street.
After questions arose by board members at the last meeting concerning the developer’s responsibility to maintain the solar component of the development and Haydu’s claim that there’s no requirement by the town for the developer to replace it after its lifespan of 20 years, he told the board that the developer would agree to provide solar for the life of the building.
To make up for not being able to supply the 50 percent solar requirement, the developer has proposed purchasing credits from a renewable energy grid.
Parking requirements call for 96 parking spaces — 87 for the 46 residential units and nine for the first floor retail space. The developer’s engineer Kevin Webb said instead of installing stacked parking on site, the developer now proposes 38 on-site parking spaces, with 58 being placed at the Orange Road garage next door. Thirty of the on-site spaces would be residential self-parking, two would be handicap spaces, and one would be a car-share spot, which actually takes up six spots, Webb said.
Tenants would pay an extra parking fee to get a spot under the building and would be granted an onsite spot on a first come, first serve basis. Residents with parking permits for the Orange Road Garage would not have assigned spots, but 58 spots would be set aside for the residents.
Board members questioned how the garage’s total of 760 spots could handle Valley and Bloom residents, the hotel, the set aside for the nearby Board of Education building, visitors to the area, and now the tenants in the new development.
The developer’s attorney Tom Trautner said the redevelopment plan states that most of the Orange Road redevelopment area will rely on the parking garage.
Nicolle Mollette, an Orange Road resident, said the area is already heavily trafficked.
“You have an event at the hotel, the schools, Valley and Bloom, new 46 units, spots for retail and visitors of the people who live there and the local restaurants, it’s pure chaos,” she said.
Due to the evolution for the parking deck’s increased usage, board member Martin Schwartz called for the planner to draft a history of each project that will be using the garage and the agreements.
“It’s clear we need the full history of the parking and the deck since it stems from multiple testimonies from [Valley and Bloom], the hotel, the added rooftop bar, the BOE parking requirement, now the new development. How many spots are really left for the public?” he said.
The developer had been seeking deviations from the redevelopment plan for the 50 percent of the roof surface to include solar panels, the proposal of 29 stacked parking spaces, and from the requirement of 96 parking spaces.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated that planner Janice Talley told the board that the design had already been approved by the design review committee, it was actually the Orange Road Garage design that had been approved.