The Christian Health Care Center came one step closer to realizing its plan to build a 199-unit senior living facility Monday when the Wyckoff Zoning Board unanimously granted a number of variances — and tacked on stipulations — to the Wyckoff-based health care business.
The Vista project, which looks much different than it did in 2010, was approved with a laundry list of more than 50 caveats enumerated by the board.
Among them were stipulations that the Vista has a minimum age requirement and each unit house no more than two people, the inclusion of suggestions from various township officials, performance guarantees, landscaping maintenance guarantees, construction-time air quality controls, and affordable housing requirements.
The most contentious caveat, however, was the board's eleventh hour determination to demand that the CHCC construct its Vista facility using "non-combustible" materials.
Following the downsizing of the project in October, CHCC officials called for the complex to be constructed with "combustible" materials as a cost cutting measure.
In recent meetings, both CHCC Engineer Kenneth Karle and Timothy Wensus, a Rhode Island-based fire safety consultant hired by the health care business, assured the board that the change would not result in a less-safe building.
In many instances the safe-guards being called for in the CHCC combustible plan went above and beyond what was required by code.
Wyckoff Volunteer Fire Department Chief Lou Graglia, however, was questioned multiple times on which plan would result in a safer building and he responded firmly that, in his opinion, the non-combustible plan was safer.
Former Chief Mike Rose is also on the record in support of non-combustible construction for Vista.
When Chairman Jerry Lombardo queried zoning board members, only Susan Yudin and Robert Decker voiced their support of the combustible option.
"Despite all the good intentions of the applicant... codes are merely the minimal acceptable," said board member Tom Madigan. "Based upon two fire department chiefs [and] the fire department's recommendation ... I would only vote for non-combustible."
The CHCC application had been pending before the land use board for more than two years.
The project cleared the Design Review Board and Shade Tree Commission before heading to the zoning board and has undergone numerous changes since then.
Among those changes include, a reduction in size and scope of the project, a change in building materials and the complete erasure of a planned entrance at Sicomac and Cedar Hill avenues.
Each voting member of the board — Lombardo, Jim Donkersloot, Carl Fry, Erik Ruebenacker, Madigan, Yudin and Decker — gave the amended project a green light.
Mark Borst was absent from the meeting and new board member Brian Hubert abstained from the vote.
"I do believe this issue has been properly adjudicated by this board. We've used every tool at our disposal to reach this decision," Lombardo said.
The board must now wait 35 days to memorialize its resolution.
"We are committed to doing all that we said that we'd do and more to maintain the reputation that we have for serving the needs of this community," CHCC CEO and President Doug Struyk said following the board's vote. "We all share a passion for what's best in this community."
CHCC officials are now expected to bring an application before the Hawthorne Zoning Board.
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