Jazz Club Proposal Submitted; Lengthy Process to Follow
The fate of the Mike's Tavern location at the corner of Bayard Lane and Birch Avenue will be decided, albeit slowly, as various Township departments and private contractors review a formal application seeking permission to place a jazz club on the site.
The application, which was submitted to the Township on June 8, will now undergo a 45-day "completeness review" period where everything from parking, circulation, visibility, neighborhood impact, lighting, stormwater management, and signage will be reviewed. The green light for further review for the site plan came in late April when a use variance was granted by Princeton Township Zoning Board of Adjustment.
The current tavern site and nearby Stefanelli's Automotive garage at 163 Bayard Lane are owned by Township resident Stephen Distler, who is said to be working with architect Terence Smith. Mr. Smith's work includes the Triumph Brewery on Nassau Street. Tentative club plans include 150 bar and dining seats with building size ranging between 6,000 and 7,000 square feet.
Once the 45-day completeness period expires on July 22, the zoning board will review the findings by the Township and applicant to determine if the application is suitable to appear before the Site Plan Review Advisory Board of the Princeton Regional Planning Board [SPRAB]. However, the zoning office will likely have questions that will require further research, said Debbie Rogers, the Zoning Board Administrative Coordinator, and that final zoning approval on July 22 is "unlikely."
"We won't determine whether the site plan is actually complete if we need more information [by July 22]," she said.
The evaluation process began in the public realm last week, when Princeton Township Committee passed a professional services agreement to the West Orange-based acoustics firm, Ostergaard Acoustical Associates. The agreement allows up to $4,000 spent in reviewing the proposed jazz club's acoustics.
Carlos Rodrigues, the Township zoning board chairman, said that monies will continue to be appropriated by either the Township or the applicant for independent research of the potential impact of a jazz club.
Once reviewed by SPRAB, the application will again appear before the zoning board with all components involved, including Mr. Distler and his consultants, Township officials, representatives from SPRAB and public comment.
While no date has been set for the applicant to visit before SPRAB or the zoning board, the zoning office's Ms. Rogers said she did not expect the board to revisit the application until the end of the year.