Additional parking will soon be available near Alice’s and The Windlass restaurants, after a the township’s land use board approved a variance application by a five to one vote at its Monday, June 22 meeting.
This was the second time a variance for the property was considered by the board.
As businesses on the point expanded, residents became angry about on-street parking, especially at the dead end of Nolan’s Point Park Road, which is quite narrow.
The township instituted parking restrictions and the owners of the businesses purchased a residential lot to create off-street parking.
The various businesses are owned by separate limited liability corporations, the applicant’s attorney Bernd Hefele explained. The Windlass restaurant is owned by Rusty Cleat LLC, Alice’s Restaurant is owned by Big Fish LLC, and the miniature golf course is owned by Lakeland Marine Base LLC. All three are under the umbrella of Camp Six Inc., Hefele said. Camp Six was the applicant for the variance.
When Camp Six first came before the board for a use variance, Hefele told the board the parking lot would provide extra parking for Alice’s. The board voted down that variance in May, with members saying the parking problems involve all of the businesses on the point.
Four members of the board voted in favor of the use variance in May, with three voting against. Under the state’s Municipal Land Use Law, five votes are needed for a use variance to pass.
Camp Six applied for a new variance for parking to serve all three businesses.
Hefele’s first chore was to establish that the application represented a substantial change from the previous one.
Board attorney Glenn Kienz said that the application cited all three businesses represented a substantial change in the application. The board’s other professionals, planner Jill Hartmann and engineer John Ruschke, agreed, but the final decision was up to the board. Of the seven board members eligible to vote on a use variance, six agreed the addition of the other businesses represented a substantial change. Member Dennis DiFrisco disagreed.
Under state law, the class I and III members of the land use board cannot vote on use variances, so Mayor Eric Wilsusen and Councilwoman Melissa Senatore were not included on either vote.
DiFrisco agreed to not weigh in on the variance application since he didn’t agree it constituted a new application. Kienz said the remaining six members of the board could decide.
The new parking lot is to be constructed on two former residential lots. Camp Six purchased the lots and tore down the two houses that were on them last fall. Although the lots are in a residential zone, they are only 10,554 and 15,960 square feet. The zone calls for 30,000 square feet, meaning even were the lots joined, they would be substandard.
The applicant’s planner, John McDonough, explained the lots are adjacent to the commercial zone on the point. He showed both aerial photographs and plans illustrating the two lots are compatible with the commercial uses.
The two lots will provide a net gain of 29 parking spaces, McDonough explained. He presented diagrams illustrating the traffic circulation.
Because of the grade on the lots, the parking area will be divided in two. The upper lot will feature two rows of parking totalling 22 spaces with a 24-foot drive. It will be accessed through Alice’s current driveway. Three parking spaces around Alice’s will be eliminated to provide circulation.
The lower lot will contain 26 spaces with one-way access into and out of the lot.
The planner explained that rather than include handicapped spaces in those lots, the applicant will add one handicapped space each near the entrances to The Windlass and Alice’s. McDonough noted that makes more sense than putting handicap spaces farther from the restaurants.
The plan also includes an extended sidewalk across the front of Alice’s leading to a crosswalk serving the miniature golf course.
Ruschke reminded the applicant the pervious pavers that will be used must meet best practices. Lot coverage far exceeds the percentage allowed in the zone. A variance was also granted for that.
The applicant’s engineer, Andrew Cangiano, said the stormwater discharge facilities would follow the township’s standards for green infrastructure. He also said the parking along Nolan’s Point Park Road, which currently exists, would be striped to be farther from the centerline. In addition, several diagonal spaces in front of Alice’s will be replaced by two parallel spots.
Public comment was extensive at meetings for the previous application, with residents concerned about sight lines to the lake and continued traffic problems, but only neighbor Timothy Becza spoke on Monday night. He thanked the board for responding to previous comments and said he is nervous about new businesses coming in needing the parking.
Cangiano said 2,800 cubic yards of soil will be removed in the construction of the lot, although some of that soil will be reused on the site. He said the proper permits will be obtained, including any needed permits for blasting or ripping of rock.
Board member Patricia Galfo asked if a project proposed by Camp Six for parking and retail on Espanong Road, if completed, would alleviate the need for parking on the point.
Hefele said that lot would be designed to meet the needs of the construction there and parking for the Miss Lotta tours to be served by a shuttle bus, but he added, “with the state of the economy, we don’t plan on developing that right now.”
Galfo cast the lone negative vote, which left five votes for the application, the minimum necessary for approval.