Proposed Apartment Building Meets with Resistance
A project on the February 15 agenda for the Board of Adjustment has some residents angry and already pushing back, though the project has not yet been approved and may be completely pulled for consideration.
Led by Twain Place resident Andy Pfaff, local citizens are rallying to prevent the approval of an apartment building proposed for 833 Clifton Avenue at the corner of Cloverdale Road. This lot has stood empty and undeveloped except for a paved lot for many years. Some residents in the neighborhood are concerned that the flooding that followed Hurricane Ida and its aftermath will be exacerbated by additional development. Residents and businesses are still recovering from the water damage that was done, with some buildings like Clifton Medical Plaza still closed. "I’m concerned about the increased stress on our already overburdened sewer system, and I’m fearful that the next flood event like Hurricane Ida will be worse if more land is developed, especially something on the scale of an apartment building. Finally, the decrease in ambient light and space will make the area feel so much more closed in and oppressive," Pfaff said.
The Clifton Times spoke with Developer Drew Morici who said that his company’s original proposal was for retail space but the city’s Office of Economic Development encouraged him to pivot to residential units, citing a need for additional housing. Originally drawn to include 26 units, the plans now indicate 22 one-bedroom units. Allowing for single bedroom apartments only was a concession the builder made to address the city's concern about overcrowding in the schools.
Goal 14 of Clifton’s Master Plan Reexamination Report (MPRR) reads in part, “To provide for a limited population growth during the time span of the Master Plan.” According to the same report, new residential units have “far outpaced” replacement housing. Between 2010 and 2017 just seven residential units in the city were demolished. In that same period, 146 new units were constructed (or 466, according to New Jersey Construction). (page 25 of the MPRR) This represents a housing growth of just 0.4%. Morici’s project, if approved, would add to that count.
Morici told us that he had been working with the Clifton Department of Economic Development to focus on providing more affordable housing for young professionals and seniors who may be downsizing to smaller homes. He told us that the plans have been drawn up to provide for adequate parking, per regulations, and to address drainage, and would not adversely affect the neighborhood but would be a benefit to the local economy. His engineers have advised that leveling the area would mean that the water would no longer drain to Cloverdale but would instead flow back towards the brook, and that flooding would also be mitigated by the inclusion of large drainage pits under the building.
There will be a Board of Adjustment meeting on February 15, 2023 at 7 pm. The public is invited to attend and to offer comments on anything on that night’s agenda. It appears that this project will be pulled, although as of the publication date of this article, it is listed as an item to be discussed.
The Board of Adjustment meets at City Hall at 900 Clifton Avenue in the Municipal Courtroom.