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North Bergen amends Master Plan to create new commercial zone

The new district is on the west side of River Road from Bulls Ferry Road to the Edgewater border

One of the commercial properties on the west side of River Road now included in the redevelopment plan. Image via Google Maps.

North Bergen has created a new zoning district in the township.

Mayor Nicholas Sacco and the Board of Commissioners adopted an ordinance at a Dec. 7 meeting to implement a Master Plan amendment creating a new zoning district after the measure was introduced at a Nov. 9 meeting. Known as the RRC-2 River Road Commercial 2, the district permits commercial use along a portion of the west side of River Road.

The Planning Board adopted a “Periodic Reexamination and Report of the Master Plan and Land Use Plan Element Amendment” at its Nov. 1 meeting. It recognized the character of certain properties on the west side of River Road between Bulls Ferry Road and the border with Edgewater as predominately nonresidential.

The commercial nature of that portion of the street has occurred despite being residentially zoned.

In addition, a number of lots don’t conform to existing zoning bulk standards. Those factors, coupled with significant residential growth in the vicinity, warrant an amendment to the current zoning for these lots in terms of uses and bulk standards.

The Board of Commissioners is responsible for implementing recommendations of the Master Plan to create the new commercial zone district. The new zone permits retail and commercial uses on that side of River Road.

What’s permitted in the new commercial zone?

Permitted uses in the district includes retail sales, personal services, professional offices, banks and eating and drinking establishments without drive-thru or walk-up service.

Cannabis retailers and medical cannabis dispensaries with the proper permits are allowed. According to the ordinance, this is only as long as there is only one within the district and it does not exceed the township’s limit of two dispensaries.

According to the ordinance, the bulk standards now require a minimum lot area of 2,500 square feet, a minimum lot width of 25 feet, a minimum lot depth of 27 feet, no minimum setback from the street or side yard setback or 5 feet if provided, a minimum rear yard setback of 10 feet, a maximum building coverage of 50 percent, a minimum landscaped area of 10 percent, maximum impervious coverage of 90 percent and a maximum building height of three stories or 40 feet.

Buildings with expansive blank walls facing the public right of way are prohibited. According to the ordinance, large horizontal buildings must be broken into segments having vertical orientation.

Architectural elements and design variation, including building offsets, must be integrated to preclude a continuous uninterrupted facade, according to the ordinance. Side and rear building elevations must receive architectural treatments comparable to front facades when visible from a public right-of-way.

A significant landscape feature must be provided. Total landscaping must not be less than 10 percent of the site area, according to the ordinance. Street trees must be provided around parking areas. Parking rows longer than 20 spaces must have a 6-foot-wide landscaped island. There must be particular focus on landscaping the River Road frontage in a “creative and aesthetically-pleasing manner.”

Board unanimously approves Master Plan amendment

Sacco noted the lack of residents this time around to discuss the ordinance. At the Nov. 22 meeting, Nenad and Kathy Krickovic spoke in favor of the Master Plan amendment ordinance, but against the lack of specification of some bulk standards in the district. They also pointed to issues with telephone poles blocking the sidewalk that would be exacerbated by the lack of certain bulk standards, specifically when it comes to setbacks in the front yard. 

The amendment went back to the Planning Board for another approval on Dec. 6 before a public hearing for it returned to the Board of Commissioners. With no changes from the Planning Board, the ordinance authorizing the amendment was back for a public hearing and vote by the Board of Commissioners on Dec. 7.

“The people that were here last meeting, I guess they were satisfied with the ordinance,” Sacco said in December. However, Nenad Krickovic was actually in the audience at that meeting.

While he did not address the board from the podium like last time, Krickovic confirmed to Sacco that he was “very satisfied.” The board then voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance.

The next meeting of the Board of Commissioners is on Dec. 21 at 11 a.m. in the municipal chambers at Town Hall at 4233 Kennedy Blvd. For more information, go to northbergen.org.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.