Millburn Zoning Board Gets First Look at Architect’s Designs for a Proposed Millburn Avenue Stop & Shop
Tuesday, August 7, 2012 • 2:04pm
MILLBURN, NJ - Members of the Zoning Board of Adjustment got their first look at the architect’s designs for a proposed Stop & Shop supermarket on Millburn Avenue during last night’s session.
Kenneth Narva of Street-Works in White Plains, N.Y., showed drawings of the proposed landscaping on the site and the façades of the building itself, as the hearings continue on the application of ARC Springfield to build a 69,000-square-foot store.
The majority of the property—site of the former Saks Fifth Avenue—lies in Springfield, which has already granted approval for the development with a number of conditions. A 20-foot deep strip of land along the roadway belongs to Millburn, however, and the applicant needs Millburn’s approval to move ahead.
As Narva described, the brick building will be divided into three sections, with the middle one featuring three display windows with awnings as well as the company’s logo. The height is essentially one and a half stories, or 22 feet, with a 5-foot pitched roof.
A discussion ensued over whether the size and look of the sign complies with the township’s ordinance, and Stop & Shop’s attorney, Gail Price, agreed to look into that.
Board member Mary McNett expressed concern about the large, mostly unbroken expanse of brick that would front the street and discourage foot traffic between stores on Millburn Avenue.
That led Narva into more general comments on urban planning. He suggested Millburn consider the four or five blocks of commercial real estate around the proposed store and the fact that food stores are a use that offers the highest draw of shoppers to an area.
“You do not want that site vacant,” he cautioned, noting that in the 15 years the space has been unused, surrounding businesses have died.
His advice to the board: “Spend your time planning and work with the applicant.”
The first part of the session was spent with further questioning of Stop & Shop’s civil engineer, Michael Fowler of Langan Engineering & Environmental Services in the New York City area. Fowler said he had made some changes in the site plan based on earlier requests from the board, including changing the type of trees to be planted along Millburn Avenue to ones recommended by the township’s forester.
Board members asked more questions about the loading docks to be located at the northeast end of the building, and Price assured them Springfield has already imposed a condition that no deliveries be made before 7 a.m. or after 10 p.m. The applicant is also required to conduct a post-construction test to comply with the state’s noise control act.
Board member Roger Manshel, who was chairing the hearing, suggested the township may want to set its own conditions.
About a dozen residents came forth to ask questions about the noise, traffic and pollution the project would generate. At a future session, they will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed store.
Price showed some pique when an attorney representing Village Super Market, operators of ShopRite stores in the area, pressed Fowler on whether sound barriers could be installed around the entire site.
She said the 100-foot-long acoustic wall separating the loading docks from the parking lot had already been approved by Springfield, and the applicant is not going to start redesigning the site plan.
“We’re here for the 20-foot strip in Millburn,” Price pointed out, adding that Stop & Shop has also obtained approvals from the New Jersey Department of Transportation and Essex County.
“Mr. Barkin is doing everything to ensure for his client that we won’t be there,” she objected. “We’re trying to come up with a plan that responds to your issues.”
Manshel said he agreed with Price that ShopRite’s attorney is going “a little far afield with the sound barriers,” but supported the right to question the impact the development will have.
He said Stop & Shop would get income from the store, Springfield will reap the tax benefits and “Millburn gets nothing. All they do is get the traffic.”
Millburn Township Engineer Thomas Watkinson was asked if his concerns about the proposed store had been addressed, and he said no. Saying he sees traffic as a problem, he said he believes it may be easier for trucks to enter the site off Morris Avenue, rather than Millburn Avenue, as is planned.
He also said he believes the possibility of putting a traffic light on Millburn Avenue should be pursued. That light will serve trucks using the easterly driveway on the site.
Manshel said those issues will be further discussed when the traffic engineer testifies at the next hearing, set for Oct. 1.