Members of the Madison Zoning Board of Adjustment on Thursday approved an application to build an eight-unit townhouse development on Elm Street in place of a liquor store and apartments currently at the site that the owner's engineer described as being in "poor condition."
All six board members who voted on the project supported it. Diane Driscoll and Timothy Blair said they saw the plan as an "improvement" for the neighborhood.
"I think the neighbors are going to be thrilled to death," Driscoll said.
Although he said it wouldn't take much to improve what's on the site, Ronald Poeter said the proposal was a good one.
"Anything would be an improvement," he said. "I think overall they've come up with a great plan."
Apartments at the site have a history of violations documented by borough fire and zoning officials, according to documents on file with the borough planning and zoning office.
Partners in LVJJ Investments LLC said after the vote they did not have a specific timetable for developing the property, but now the approvals are in place, they will start to consult with professionals about proceeding with the project.
The plan calls for two buildings with four townhouse units in each.
The zoning board heard the application over the last few months because building the condos requires a variance to allow double the housing density allowed in the R-5 Multi-Family Residential zone. During Thursday's meeting, the applicant showed a modified plan with one fewer unit, two more parking spaces and additional drywells to improve drainage.
The properties sit on a total of about 0.7 acres. 6 Elm Street has Madison Liquor & Convenience with two apartments on the second floor, and two more apartments attached to a garage behind the store. 4 Elm Street is a two-story, single-family home, with an additional apartment attached to a garage behind the house. Between 32 and 37 people total were sleeping in the home and five apartments daily, the borough fire official wrote in a Jan. 25 inspection report.
Michael Lami said the project is a good example of how the give-and-take of the application process is supposed to work, and Joseph Santoro said the applicant's willingness to reduce the number of units "got everyone on board." John Ciulla said the property is the "perfect area for this type of development."