Lakewood Mayor Ray Coles responds to your ‘Ask The Mayor’ questions: Insufficient Parking Spots

The following is an ‘Ask The Mayor’ question submitted to TLS, and the Mayor’s response. Email your questions for the Mayor to [email protected].


Dear Mayor Coles:

I just became aware of Ordinance # 2021-024 which is scheduled for second reading tomorrow evening, April 22. This Ordinance relates to the permitting of and amending certain land uses in the Cedarbridge Campus area.

One of those changes concerns the parking spot requirements for Conference Centers and Banquet Halls, commonly known as Simcha Halls. The developer had initially proposed only 8 spots per every 1000 square feet. (This change was placed in fine print near the bottom of page 19 of the 29-page Plan Amendment booklet.) This means that a large 4,000 square foot hall would require only 32 parking spots, and a very large 10,000 square foot facility just 80 spots! But all of us who attend local functions know that these Halls typically have hundreds of participants.

Thankfully, some of the planning board members (at their April 4 meeting) noticed the significant impact this could have on our already over-trafficked streets and requested the developer to rework this item and come back with a sensible plan.

The developer came back at the next meeting (April 20) and amended the change to require 1 parking space for every 3 “seats” in the hall. This will be based on the developer’s submitted architect calculation for the number of seats to be in the hall. He also added another provision to limit the ability of our planning department’s calculation of conference/banquet space to only the “net size” of the rooms, when computing the necessary number of spots in the parking area.

Cedarbridge’s professional planner, who was not under oath during his presentation, stated that he “heard” from a certain traffic “expert” who has never received professional credentials as a traffic engineer, that the ratio of 3:1 should be the standard, per ITE recommendations. (The added “net size” provision is admittedly the developer’s own innovation.)

However, comparing Lakewood to typical towns is unfair. Most people in Lakewood who attend “simchos” travel on their own. It is rare to find 3 people attending weddings that travel in one vehicle. For instance, my wife and I travel in 2 cars so I can continue to other affairs and she can return home earlier without having to wait for me. My adult children living at home also drive their own vehicles because they also have different events to participate in.

The Lakewood Planning Board in fact voted to specifically recommend a requirement of 1 spot per 1 attendee or a ratio of 1:1. At the very least, a standard of 1 car per 2 attendees might be considered. But to vote on approving this 3:1 amendment, as is, makes no sense in Lakewood and the resulting lack of sufficient parking will cause more unjustified gridlock on our roads. Indeed, the “net result” of the revised proposal is that the township will still get shorted on the number of spots truly needed. 

Although this Ordinance, at least on paper, applies to only the Cedarbridge section of town (which does not make it any better), we all know (and this has been the case time and again) that developers will use it as precedent and standard when building other Simcha Halls throughout the town. Many such halls are already causing tremendous inconvenience and frustration to residents, and this proposed Ordinance will only exacerbate the situation.

I also want to add that members of the public were not permitted to convey their concerns on this issue to the Planning Board. The PB attorney specifically stated on the record that only internal deliberations are permitted and there was no ability to correspond with them at all about this.

The people of Lakewood deserve to have proper planning, adequate parking, and reasonable traffic flow without constant traffic jams. We hope that as always, we can count on you.

Are you able to help?

Issac F. on behalf of very concerned residents


Response from Mayor Coles:

Good morning,

I checked with our engineer & attorney this morning and was told the applicant agreed to the Planning Board recommendations for 1:1 parking.

Thanks for reaching out with your concerns.

Stay safe



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  1. Thank you Isaac F. For bringing this important topic up. The question we really need to deal with is how we the residents of Lakewood can ensure that the continued disregard for the horrific travel conditions all around town by the Planning Board, Zoning Board and Developers, comes to an end? Why do we keep seeing Traffic studies submitted that look like they were done on Shabbos morning? The fact that this specific developer sensed that negative attention wasnt good and backed down on his own does not necessarily bode well for future projects.

  2. Checkout all the office buildings and shopping centers going up. A parking nightmare! Why businesses are running to these beautiful buildings with inadequate parking is mind boggling. I assume wherever they go there’s no parking which brings us to the question where is the planning board. How about they take a trip over to New Hampshire and checkout if the newly constructed buildings and shopping centers have enough spots.

  3. Besides for the selfish people that take up the shortage of handicapped parking spaces. How about the Township enforcing these:

    Handicap parking spaces must be in a location in a parking lot that provides the most accessible route to the entrance of the building. They must also be close to the entrance to make the distance required to travel from the vehicle to the doors the shortest route possible.

    Handicap parking spots also must be of a certain size – a minimum of eight feet wide, with an aisle space adjacent to them that is also a minimum of five feet wide. A handicap parking space for a van must be at least 11 feet wide, and there must be an accessible path from the aisle to the accessible entrance of the building.

  4. Unfortunately, I’m temporarily handicapped and often can not find handicapped parking. I have a temporary handicap placard. Too often, specifically speaking about before Pesach, I had to go home because all the handicapped spots were taken by the non handicapped. I did not see handicapped placards hung on their mirrors. Please do not steal handicapped spots because you can’t find a regular one. Police should be ticketing non handicapped vehicles, those without a handicap placard, for parking in handicapped spaces.

  5. We all want and appreciate simcha halls. But if there isn’t a proper plan for enough parking, it’s no longer a positive for our town.

    I realize that developers don’t make money from more parking spots and want to maximize their building coverage to the greatest extent they can, but it’s simply not right to the guests.

    We need to finally address this lingering issue already.

  6. Ray,

    I know this is a pet peeve for you, having experienced it personally….

    The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) rules, which is a Constitutional Rights issue, that:

    Charges can be brought against any person or business that doesn’t comply with the requirements for handicap parking spots. This can result in fines up to $150,000, depending on how many times the individual has violated the rules set forth by the ADA. That is true for all states. In some states, if spaces are not properly provided, a misdemeanor crime can also be charged.

    Parking lots with 1 to 25 spaces: 1 designated handicap parking spot
    Parking lots with 26 to 50 spaces: 2 designated handicap parking spots
    Parking lots with 51 to 75 spaces: 3 designated handicap parking spots
    For every 25 spots in a parking lot, the number of required designated parking spots is increased by one. So, a parking lot with 150 spaces should have six handicap parking spots available. When you get up to parking lots with up to 500 spaces, nine handicap parking spots must be available, along with two spaces specifically for vans.

    A parking lot with over 1,000 parking spaces must have 20 handicap accessible parking spots, along with one for every 100 spots over 1000. And for every six handicap parking spaces in a parking lot, there must be at least one that is accessible to a van.

    Medical facilities have slightly different standards – 20% of their parking lots must be designated as handicap accessible.

  7. the answer should be simple , look at the existing wedding halls , size & number of spots watch ten average weddings and if the current formula works or needs to be tweeked we dont need proffesors in trenton
    can anyone put up the numbers
    now im from bp where u have 9 chasuna halls without one spot and everyone comes & go’s all night somehow it works
    if shomer shabbos shul were to come before the board how many spots would they need

    • I live in BP and guess what? I hardly go to simchas because I simply can’t park – not at the hall, and not when I get home. Neither do I do errands or any outings unless absolutely necessary because I can’t park.
      For those who mentioned accessible parking, I’m glad you at least have that option sometimes available in Lakewood. You can’t imagine what it’s like to get home and not be able to park anywhere remotely nearby.

  8. Ruby you said in BP it works, first off all
    A. many many locals in BP walk or take a car service to the wedding as they know its quicker then looking for a parking spot.
    B many halls have valet parking , otherwise they know people from out of boro park may not attend the wedding knowing how many times they may need to circle the neighborhood until they find a spot.
    C i know from relatives that people living on the blocks of halls are terribly affected from the poor quality of life hearing horns beeping and people making noise all night
    D if b.h. we dont have these issues and have always done things having the neighbors and tziburs needs in mind (like bais faiga ending the music by 11) why start allowing irresponsible hall developments, if we can do things properly in a way that doesn’t negatively effect quality of life we have an achraius to do so!
    E boro park has no other options, and if its so amazing in Boro park, why is there a exodus from boro park?

    • It’s the wisdom of old timers like yourself that is needed to sober the confused ones in our new generation. You speak simple common sense and articulate inarguable statements.

      The letter writer should also be commended for voicing in clear terms a concern which I am sure is shared by many thousands of local residents.

      I am glad that the township committee made the right decision tonight in voting to accept the Simcha Hall 1:1 parking ratio. It will make a very positive difference in all our lives for years to come.

  9. I have seen so many issues in the past where builders got zoning variances for less spots. It is still going on (County Line Dev wants to short their new townhouses by 10 spots). Remember the shopping areas a few years ago’ How many shuls will lose out? How many developments? Why do people allow this to keep happening?

    Yes! Please let the police ticket the handicapped spots. It is easy money for them, and a few tickets will be a great way to remember not to do it.

    As far as parking planning, 2 cars for 3 seats would work. The writer who claims “my wife and I always take 2 spots” is exactly what’s wrong with the town. No one thinks of doing a little extra to help their neighbors anymore.

  10. “New Generation” you articulate your message very professionally and to the point, i believe you would be a great public servant if you are not one yet. Please do the tzibor a favor and get involved, you will make this town a better place and keep things in check!

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