Walgreens Application Approval Stalled at Madison Planning Board Hearing
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 • 7:06am
MADISON, NJ – Signage and application approval for the proposed Walgreens Pharmacy at 122 Main St. were postponed until Tuesday, Oct. 2.
Property owner Arthur Metzler testified at the Sept. 18 meeting, describing several signs that had been discussed with the borough’s signage committee. He noted that a signage application had been rejected in May 2012. Metzler said he met with the committee during June, July and August, as well as working with the Walgreens Company to reach an agreement.
“We tried to come up with a fair compromise,” he said, “and still fined a balance with the economic reality.” He added that Walgreens has planned an opening for Nov. 16. “I feel I made my best efforts and followed the guidelines,” Metzler said.
Some Planning Board members objected to the size of blade (vertical wooden) signs and drive-by elevation, asking for a greater setback. Planning Board Engineer Susan Blickstein said some signs would require a variance relating to the public right of way.
Board member Astrid Baillie said of the number of signs, “I think it’s overkill. We’re not stupid.” She said having six or seven signs reminds her of flags that are set out when a new business is opening.
Another board member referred to the “mediocre architecture” of some buildings on Main Street and added that the Walgreens location is a gateway to Madison.
Attorney Sam DeAngelis said the building would be LEED certified and would be the first commercial office building in downtown Madison with that designation. To receive that certification, the cost of the building as increased by $75,000, he said. “They’ve paid attention to the details and have shown perseverance,” he added.
As the board continued to debate the signage issue, DeAngelis emphasized the cooperation with other professionals and the tenant. “Give some respect to that process,” he said. He said he could understand “tweaking. That’s your right. But this is an exceptional applicant. They’ve tried hard to work with the committee.” He told the board of the frustration in reaching an agreement, “You’re setting a dangerous precedent. It’s absolutely wrong.”
Blickstein suggested that a revised lighting plan, along with revised signage, be submitted in two weeks. “That way we can revisit it all at once,” she said.
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