Online Editor Victoria Antonelli received written permission from Amre Youssef, Director of Content Syndications and Archives of North Jersey Media Group, to use this article in the Northeast Regional section of autobodynews.com.
After the Zoning Board of Adjustment heard testimony from a planner on an application to convert the former Stafford Glass building at 168 Godwin Ave. into office space and a motor vehicle repair shop, a member expressed his dissatisfaction. “This is window dressing and you have not proven your case,” said Daniel Brennan. “In my opinion, there is a host of problems.”
Brennan said he was concerned with type of business being proposed. ”We don’t want the hub of town to be about car repairs,” Brennan said. “We have three gas stations down the road.”
The applicant, Warren Struz, has owned the adjoining Midland Park Auto Body at 172 Godwin Ave. for 34 years. That business is a pre-existing non-conforming use.
Struz said he wants to convert the 7,378-square-foot Stafford Glass building into a reception area, office space and a motor vehicle repair shop to complement it. He is seeking site plan approval, a use variance and bulk variances for the 21,682-square-foot property west of Vreeland Avenue, which is in the B-1 zone. The zone permits motor vehicle service stations and offices, but does not allow auto repair businesses. The applicant’s planner, Michael F. Kauker of Kauker & Kauker LLC, Wyckoff, testified at the Sept. 10 meeting that the proposed activities in the space include wheel alignment, automobile disassembly and radiator repair but not auto body work. ”There are no auto body repair activities at this site. It is distinctly a different use. The businesses are inter-related because it has the same owner ,” said Kauker.
Kauker said the applicant has a “hardship” because of the limitations of the size of the structure and parking shortfall. He testified that the business would fit into master plan specifications by maintaining the existing building, preserving and enhancing the commercial area, improving the streetscape design and providing a buffer zone to the residential area.
Kauker said there was no expansion planned on the property that includes a detached single-family dwelling to the north.
He said the building was “suited” for an auto repair business because it would minimally impact the heavily traveled Godwin Avenue.
”A professional office or retail space that is permitted in this zone could not accommodate the parking requirements of 33 spaces and would intensify the use of the property,” said Kauker.
Kauker said parking requirements for an auto repair is 25 spaces.
”We can reasonably provide sufficient parking both in the interior and exterior of the building,” he said.
However, the board debated whether interior spaces in five bays or stalls should count toward required parking spaces.
Zoning board member James Deluca asked whether the proposed auto repair shop was “inter-related or an integral part of the body shop.” Struz’s attorney, David Becker of Wyckoff said it was ”inter-related” Vreeland Avenue resident Jackie Vierhilig, whose property abuts Struz’s, expressed her concern about the placement of garbage receptacle near the property line as well as the placement of privacy bushes.
Struz said the current 2-foot gravel buffer would be replaced with bushes to shield the property.