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There are several reasons for this change. It is important that the Township balance a need to remain competitive with surrounding communities and their zoning policies while maintaining a reasonable level of protection to our residents that may live in close proximity to a commercial district. All of our commercial districts have seen high ground floor vacancy rates in the double digits, even prior to COVID-19. Sinking commercial property values as a result of these vacancies can have a deleterious impact on the Township’s overall valuation, which can shift the tax burden to residential property owners.
A vibrant business community will add value to the Township. It will also help ensure that our commercial districts remain intact and do not become soft sites. Millburn has a reputation of being less business friendly than our neighbors. This was recently confirmed by a review of our zoning codes throughout the Downtown Area Vision Plan process. It was suggested, as a first step in revitalizing all of Millburn, that restaurants be a permitted use and that other uses continue to expand as we slowly emerge from the public health crisis.
We are not pursuing these changes without consideration of our residents. It is important that certain protections remain, that certain conditions be met that mitigate any impact a new business may have on the residential community and that we have both our residential and commercial owners in mind when proposing such changes.
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The introduced ordinance allows restaurants and other food uses that are greater than 125ft to enter the Township as a permitted use. They would be required to apply and receive any necessary permits for build out. The one caveat to this permitted use status is that the Township’s parking requirements still apply in B-2 and B-3.
While parking requirements are being waived in the B-4, they will remain for the B-2 and B-3 zones. This means that if a restaurant wishes to occupy a vacant space in the B-2 or B-3 zones, but is increasing the parking requirement of that space (i.e. dry cleaner to restaurant), they would still need to seek planning board approval for a parking variance.
It remains. Restaurants and food uses within 125ft of a single family residential lot line remain a conditional use. If a prospective tenant can satisfy all the outlined supplementary conditions and parking requirements, they will go before the planning board for site plan approval. If they are unable to meet one or more of the supplementary conditions, they will need to seek a use variance before the Township’s Board of Adjustment (Zoning board).
Yes. Applications to both the planning board and the zoning board require that properties within 200ft. of the property line be notified that an application is being considered.
The Chatham Road commercial district was exempt under the current code with language that stated, “This Section 606.61d shall apply only to lots abutting on primary and secondary roadways as shown in the Traffic Circulation Plan Element of the Master Plan.” Unlike the B-3 on Upper Millburn Avenue and the B-2 and B-3 zones on Morris Turnpike, elimination of that language would have had restaurants be a permitted use on Chatham Road. The omission would have created an unintended consequence as none of the commercial buildings are within 125ft. of a single family dwelling property line.
A brew pub, referred to in the A.B.C. law as a Restricted Brewery License, is a manufacturing license that permits the license holder to brew malt alcoholic beverages in quantities not to exceed 3,000 barrels per license term. This license can only be issued to a person or entity that identically owns a Plenary Retail Consumption License which is operated in conjunction with a restaurant regularly and is principally used for the purpose of providing meals to its customers and having kitchen and dining facilities. The restricted brewery licensed premises must be immediately adjoining the retail consumption licensed premises. The holder of this license shall only be entitled to sell or deliver its product to that restaurant premises. The purpose of this type of license is to allow the holder of the license to manufacture product and to sell it at its retail licensed premises. No more than two Restricted Brewery Licenses shall be issued to a person or entity which holds identical interests in two plenary retail consumption licenses, used in conjunction with restaurants, as previously discussed. Since this is a manufacturing license, it will also need certain approval from the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and may also require additional approval from the municipality in which it is located.
The definition of “fast food” in the Township’s zoning code is as follows;
RESTAURANT, FAST FOOD — An establishment whose principal business is the sale of pre-prepared or rapidly prepared food directly to the customer in a ready to consume state for consumption either within the restaurant building or off the premises.
Fast food in Millburn can be anything from a pizza place to a bubble tea location. Our ordinances, like most of our surrounding communities, do not prohibit fast food but explicitly prohibit drive thru windows. This prohibition, coupled with the size and location of many of our commercial lots, do not fit well into fast food chain models.
The parking requirements for the B-4 (Downtown) will be removed unless on-site parking already exists. Eliminating this barrier will allow more permitted uses to avoid going to the planning board for parking variances.
The ordinance also provides for additional uses in the B-4 district, such as theaters and museums. It also allows co-working/shared work spaces in the B-2 and above ground floor in the B-4.
Please click this link to be directed to a Zoning Map of the Township: https://twp.millburn.nj.us/DocumentCenter/View/6229/Zoning-Map-PDF?bidId=.