It’s alternate-universe time again, but first let’s start in our real universe. What do you think of the three-story, 750-unit storage facility being proposed for a Grove Street site?


Stuff and Nonsense

That building would be large enough to almost reach the parking lot of Claremont Avenue’s CVS — admittedly convenient for neighbors buying tranquilizers to mitigate overdevelopment rage.


Why are so many too-big building proposals brought before our town’s Planning Board?


Reaching for a Rationale

Applicants often ask for more than they want — figuring the usually compliant PB will either agree or ask for a slight downsizing “compromise” that gives applicants what they had realistically hoped for. It’s a game of sorts, minus the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals.


Ah, the teams in February 13’s Stupor Bowl…um…Super Bowl. But could you explain the “Alternate Universe Montclair” mentioned at the start of this column?


Wield Goal

It’s a universe in which applicants bring to the Planning Board proposals as SMALL as possible. If I were transported there…”‘O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’ He chortled in his joy.”


Quoting Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” poem? Please know that Montclair has many skilled therapists who can help you. Anyway, what would an alternate-universe plan include at Lackawanna Plaza?


Alice in Blunderland

A grocery store smaller than the “play” supermarket area inside the now-gone children’s museum in Paramus. Which reminds me that our town’s Studio Playhouse and Acme are in a play/supermarket area.


Actually, a big supermarket at Lackawanna would be a good thing. What about the Seymour Street redevelopment in the “Alternate Universe Montclair” of miniscule proposals brought to the Planning Board?


See Less on Seymour

Imagine Wellmont Arts Plaza being one square foot in size! The crowding of people there would add excitement to that plaza, and an Elton John cover band playing The Wellmont could sing “Tiny Dancer.”


The “arts district” includes the “Midtown” parking deck scheduled to open this month. Its size in “Alternate Universe Montclair”?


Not Playing With a Full Deck

Just big enough to fit Matchbox toy cars. I still have a two-inch-long, half-inch-high Jaguar from childhood that was perfection itself except when trying to reach Garden State Parkway toll booths from the driver-side window.


What about a Valley & Bloom looming just six inches above the sidewalk?


Petite Near Street

The problematic valet trash service there would need very small valets. Perhaps Lilliputians borrowed from the “Gulliver’s Travels” novel by Jonathan Swift, who also wrote “An Immodest Disposal.”


That’s “A Modest Proposal,” you idiot. What would a mini-Starbucks mean in a mini-Siena building?


It’s Not Easy Being Bean

Lattes served in thimbles. Unionized thimbles.


Thrilling that many Starbucks workers in the U.S. are organizing. Finally, what would “Alternate Universe Montclair” have on Christopher Court rather than the huge homes that sadly replaced the historic Marlboro Inn?


Mick Mansions

Little green plastic Monopoly houses. And I hope the in-its-current-size storage building proposed elsewhere on Grove doesn’t “pass go.”



Dave Astor, author, is the MontClairVoyant. His opinions about politics and local events are strictly his own and do not represent or reflect the views of Baristanet.



8 replies on “MontClairVoyant: In ‘Alternate Universe Montclair,’ Small Is All”

  1. Dave,

    I was laughing very hard when I saw NJ was raising the high school graduation passing score 3.5% and everyone (the teachers) went absolutely bonkers. Apparently our 2-year community colleges are spending the first year giving remedial high school instruction. I’m shocked!

  2. Hmm…raising the graduation passing score during a time when students are dealing with the current COVID era (including learning online when they’re sick), teachers are juggling in-person and some online teaching responsibilities, there are teacher staff shortages, etc. Brilliant! 🙄

  3. Dave, you’re still beating this same tired drum about “over development”? The proposed building is three stories. The max height according to zoning for that area? Three stories. What zone is that, you ask? The general business and light manufacturing zone. What exactly would you like to see this property turned into? It sits directly on the train tracks. It’s a former oil storage and distribution yard.

  4. Thank you for the comment, montclairskier.

    You asked: “What exactly would you like to see this property turned into?”

    My answer: If it’s going to be a storage facility, a somewhat smaller storage facility.

  5. Montclairskier,

    No, this building does not conform to zoning in several ways. Most importantly the applicant is requesting a height variance and a variance from the 20’ rear setback requirement. The adjacent property owner hired a lawyer as he doesn’t want a 38’ tall building wall up against his property line.

    My primary interest is in whatever is approved doesn’t infringe an adjacent Essex-Hudson Greenway path to Grove St.

  6. Just for some emphasis, the variances add over 100,000 cubic feet of massing to the structure.
    This sounds worse using cubic feet, but my point illustrates is it is not a small variance to the building massing allowed by zoning regs.

  7. It’s a triangular shaped property with no street frontage. Why would anyone care about a 20′ rear setback given how it’s situated? Are we trying to protect the neighborhood character of the CVS parking lot?

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