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Environmental Commission Gives Thumbs-Up to Proposed Church Re-Design

Church would be located at Cedar Grove Lane and Como Drive

The original architectural rendering of the proposed church, by Kendall Park-based Jeffrey W. Kusmick

The original architectural rendering of the proposed church, by Kendall Park-based architect Jeffrey W. Kusmick.

Design changes to a proposed church at Cedar Grove Lane and Como Drive were given a positive reception Nov. 18 by the township Environmental Commission.

The church, Edison-NJ Tabernacle Church, is scheduled to appear before the township Zoning Board of Adjustment at its January 9, 2014 meeting. The church has been asking for and receiving postponements on its application since September.

“Someone finally took heed of our comments,” commission chairman Arnold Vernick said.

In a nutshell, the new design sports a smaller building, abandons a plan for future growth and moves a planned driveway from Cedar Grove Lane to Como Drive.

The church’s original plans called for a two-phase project, the first of which would entail building a 108-seat, 3,935-square-foot church on two lots in the R-40 zone. R-40 zones are residential, but allow churches as conditional uses.

The second phase would have ben a 1,500-square-foot addition and more parking, and would increase to 200 the number of seats.

The plan also called for a driveway onto Cedar Grove Lane, an idea that was shot down by the Somerset County Planning Board. The county board has a say because Cedar Grove Lane is a county road.

There are two homes on the property; the church plans to raze one – which is now abandoned – and use the second one as a parsonage until the second phase demand was met.

The plans reviewed by the commission on Nov. 18 called for a 1,490-square-foot building and a parking lot that could accommodate 61 cars instead of 89. The building itself would be angled slightly, and the Cedar Grove Lane access driveway would be moved to Como Drive.

The total of impervious coverage would drop from about 37 percent of the property to about 31 percent.

Commission member Ted Chase – also a Township Councilman from Ward 1 – was surprised that the impervious coverage percentage decreased.

“There’s always a feeling that when you have a church allowed in a residential zone, you’re going to have more impervious surface than for homes,” he said. “What you don’t want is parking on the street.”

Vernik noted that the plan’s “drainage has been redesigned” and the landscaping plan “has been improved.”

“So this is an environmental improvement,” said commissioner Cecile MacIvor.

“This considerably improves the plan,” Chase said.

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