When Buffalo Wild Wings’ proposed site plan came before the Parsippany Planning Board’s minor site plan/subdivision committee on Tuesday night, residents came forward with concerns about buffers and lighting.
There are lights at the edge of the parking lot that borders the residential streets. Those lights are there for safety reasons for customers and drivers in the parking lot.
“We’re going to have a light that’s about 20 feet off the ground. I don’t think there is a way to shield that from hitting residences directly with the light,” said Laracca, a resident of Sandra Drive.
James Henry, of Principal at Dynamic Engineering Consultants, is the engineer on the project. He responded that that the light can be seen from far away, but will not be projected at the homes and that they’ll be adding a “large vegetation buffer to try to shield” the light as much as possible.
Here’s a look at Buffalo Wild Wing’s plans for the site:
- “Recreating the front of the restaurant so that it is ADA compliant. Under the existing condition, it’s not ADA compliant,” said Henry.
- South side of the building is the main entrance and east side will be a take out door with three proposed take-out spaces
- “Proposing awnings around the property and a small overhang area. That was approved as part of the minor site plan application.”
- Lighting will be added to the exterior of the site. LED lights on exterior don’t face residences and will turn off during off hours. There is also landscaping to help buffer the light.
Exterior Parking Lot
- loading zone proposed in the northwest corner of the property. That was a service area and is being maintained as a service area.
- For the masonry trash enclosure, it’s currently allowed to be six feet high, but to prevent the public from dumping trash over the wall, the applicant is requesting an 8-foot wall height, but will comply to the 6 feet if need be. Ed Snieckus, board planner, said that he didn’t mind the 8-foot high wall because it would also help prevent trash from accidentally blowing out of the enclosure and into residential neighbors’ properties.
- Slight modifications to the sidewalk
- A proposed sidewalk along Route 46 and regrading of the driveway in and out of the site to make it ADA compliant.
“It didn’t have to be ADA compliant, I just wanted a pedestrian connection. A sidewalk will be fine,” said Gordon Meth, board Engineer, later adding that if the applicant can, create another pedestrian sidewalk access point other than just the driveways—possibly near Taco Bell—because the driveways are steep.
- There are two driveways for the parking lot, one is an entrance only and the other exit only.
Councilman Michael DiPierro asked if the double entrance could be eliminated to reduce confusion for drivers and if only having one driveway in and out of the property is possible.
Henry said that the entrance sign can be shifted closer to the entrance driveway to clearly show where to enter.
“Because of the divider, allowed to have two, one in and one out,” said Meth.
- Adding ADA compliant parking stalls in front of the building
- Henry said that there will be about 60 extra parking spaces. There will be 147 spaces total–145 for the public and two employee-only compact parking spaces
- Expanded the parking area in the rear of the property by about three feet.
“We met with the engineer, we met with Gordon, the parking stalls that are back there don’t meet ordinance requirements and the drive aisle is not wide enough for 2-way operation,” said Henry.
“My client said that that’s typically how many parking spaces this size Buffalo Wild Wings," said Henry, to explain the additional parking spaces.
They’re proposing to increase the parking “to ensure that there will not be any parking on the residential street adjacent to the property … this is exceeding the ordinance requirement.”
Meth added that chain restaurants show a higher demand for parking spots and “you don’t notice it as much when you’re looking at (a restaurant) in a shopping center … because (there’s) all retail parking available” for overflow parking.
“BWW but you may have people waiting to get seated, people coming in separate cars after work or people standing at the bar and not taking up one of the restaurant’s seats.”
“This applicant knows their business and knows how many they’re going to need,” said Meth. “I actually believe this is the number they need for parking … even though the ordinance doesn’t reflect that.”
During the public comment session, Laracca also raised concerns with the fact that a traffic study is not required because the increased number of seats is not large enough to warrant one.
However, Laracca pointed out that the number of parking spaces is also increasing “a considerable amount … To me that requires a study of traffic flow.”
“We have an ordinance that defines, in town, when a traffic study is required,” said Meth. “For the case of restaurants, the trips are based on the number of seats, the parking spots are not really a factor.” Meth added that the traffic studies are for measuring the capacity of the road system. “The site is grandfathered for a certain amount of traffic.”
- Several hundred items will be planted, such as trees, shrubs and perennials
- There is a substantial bamboo forest that will be difficult to remove, but the applicant will remove it because it’s an invasive species
Laracca said that he was pleased with the fact that the bamboo would be removed.
On the other hand, Greg Stauffer of Sandra Drive asked if the bamboo could be saved “for some type of sound barrier? … I’ve been living there for 22 years” and he can’t see Route 46 because the bamboo is an efficient barrier. “I’ve never seen anything invasive from that bamboo stand.”
The board said that the bamboo would still have to be removed entirely because it is an “invasive property.”
Stauffer also asked if they could have a say in the type of trees used in the buffer. The board said that they could voice their opinions when the applicant returns with the revised plan.
- The main sign and entrance is on the south side of the building.
- By the entrance, the free-standing sign will be 21.75 feet high. “The clearance complies with the ordinance,” said Henry.
- The Chili’s sign was six feet from the property line. The BWW will be 15 feet from the property line
- The free-standing sign is 87 sq ft, which is the smallest standard BWW sign they could have without having to make a custom sign.
There was also an issue as to the definition of ‘signs.’ BWW is looking to have a wing graphic on the awnings, but the town ordinance classifies each of those graphics as a sign.
It was mentioned that Applebee’s got a variance approved for their awnings, which had a decorative apple logo on the awnings. DiPierro added that this variance will most likely be granted.
Snieckus added that BWW will need a sign variance because the site is permitted two, but BWW plans to have four.
Related Patch Articles: