By MARTA ESQUÍROZ For The Leader/Times
CRANFORD — Following a hearing Monday night, the zoning board of adjustment approved an application by Tesla Inc. to install 12 Tesla supercharging stations at 370 North Avenue East.
Jesse Karp, deployment lead for supercharging in the northeast, explained that the goal of installing the supercharging stations is to provide “Tesla vehicle owners with a sense of comfort as they travel long distance.
“On the road, Tesla provides frequent stops where the charging can take place. Most of them in New Jersey are located in convenience stores, so when the customer is charging for 20 minutes, it has accessible restaurants and other places they can frequent,” Mr. Karp said.
The Cranford QuickChek gas station was the place selected for this installation. “It’s a partner of the company,” Mr. Karp pointed out.
He continued by explaining that Tesla vehicles will have a system that will indicate “the opening hours of the store” and “the number of charger spots available,” as well as the “charging estimated time.”
Furthermore, Mr. Karp said that the waiting time “in the convenience stores would be around 20 to 25 minutes putting 200 miles on the vehicle,” while it increases up to “45 or more for a complete charge.” However, as Mr. Karp noted, these numbers could change depending on the type of vehicle and the state of the charge.
David Salomon, a member of the board, expressed his concerns about the density of the parking spots project. He explained that Cranford zoning regulations require 10 feet by 18 feet for parking space dimensions, while Tesla asks for nine feet by 18 feet.
Mr. Karp argued that those measures are “the standards” for their vehicles, being the only ones allowed to use these stations.
“The stations will be only for passenger vehicles. They won’t have large pickup trucks or vans,” Mr. Karp affirmed.
To reduce the number of stations due to the lack of space to “maneuver,” Mr. Salomon proposed the alternative of providing 10 spots instead of 12, making it “easier.”
David Revette, the engineer for the project, explained, “the application is predicated on the need to land 12 stalls to fit the anticipated peak loading of the network.
“If we were to have lose stalls and make it bigger, we have to potentially reconsider other places to accommodate these 12 stations,” Mr. Revette stated.
Mr. Karp added that, “it would be hard to get approved internally” because Tesla designed it “based on the demand.”
Mr. Salomon also asked if other electric vehicles could use the charger stations. Mr. Karp replied that they would be “only for Tesla,” although he said that Elon Musk is thinking of making Tesla chargers “accessible to other electric cars at some point in the future.”
Despite board members’ concerns about the use of the property, landscaping, the number of trees to plant, and the lack of information about the pedestrian passages and measures of the spots, the board approved the application. However, the applicant will have to provide additional documents regarding these sections.
Board Secretary Dan Aschenbach believes that Tesla “would be a valuable addition for Cranford.” He defended the landscaping, which he said would “look very nice” compared to the “abandoned manufactories” that used to be there years ago.