Stockton Market parking and seating issues remain
The size of parking spaces and an area with tables and chairs were points of contention between planning and zoning officials and those representing Stockton Market during a hearing Monday, Nov. 4.
Michael Burns, architect for the applicant, testified that the market is a permitted use in the borough’s commercial/residential district.
Zoning officer Robert Miller said he has never objected to the improvements made to Stockton Market since owner Steve Grabowski bought it several years ago. “This is all in keeping with the grocery store use, which is fine,” Miller said.
However, “seating would trigger a different use or intensity.”
Richard Mongelli, attorney for the applicant, said the seating area does not meet the borough qualifications for a restaurant or cafe. Burns testified that the area is a permitted use.
“The concerns that Mr. Miller raises don’t exist here,” Mongelli said.
“Chairs were the threshold in my mind that would change the use,” Miller countered.
The issue remained unresolved.
Burns said his client was also seeking a “design waiver” for the parking aisle width. The ordinance calls for a 25-foot isle whereas the existing parking aisle is 19 feet.
Another design waiver was sought for the size of each on-site parking space. Stockton Market planning officials are seeking to redraw 8.5 by 18 foot spaces while the ordinance requires 10 by 20 foot spaces.
Burns said 75 parking spaces have been historically used, but borough planning officials are requiring 81 parking spaces.
Mongelli told borough planning officials that the market’s parking lot could be reconfigured to yield eight addition parking spaces, two more than required. Burns added that six feet could be added to the parking aisle to conform to the ordinance, but the sizes of the parking spaces would have to be reduced to “compact car” spaces.
Although not all of the required spaces are on-site, Burns said there are enough parking spaces within walking distance to satisfy the requirement.
Borough traffic engineer Joseph Mahan, Jr. said he was concerned about proper turning maneuvers under the scenario of the reduced parking aisle and more narrow parking spaces. He said out of small, medium and large passenger cars, only the small vehicle would be able to turn into the spaces, but the driver would have a very tight squeeze to get out of the car.
“None of the vehicles would make an adequate maneuver into a parking space,” Mahan said.
Mongelli argued that there has not been a parking issue in the past. Burns said the fact that the market is only open three days a week allows the parking to be shared when it is not operating and benefits the community.
Burns also said the Hunterdon County Planning Board, the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission and the state Department of Environmental Protection have not objected to the plan.
The market is currently open from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
At a previous meeting, Oct. 1, several market vendors, residents and a representative from the Stockton Fire Company expressed support for the market’s owner. At that meeting, Anthony Grecco of the Stockton Fire Co. offered the organization’s 30 parking spaces.
“We actually just got a signed agreement,” Mongelli said Nov. 4, although details were not discussed because the planning board did not have time to review the agreement.
The hearing was continued to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3 at Borough Hall. It is possible a vote on the application could come then.
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