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Stop & Shop application lands in Town Hall

OF THE ITEM

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

BY LINDSEY KELLEHER

 

The long-awaited application for a possible variance for the construction of a Stop & Shop supermarket on Millburn Avenue is currently being reviewed by Millburn Zoning Officer Eileen Davitt.


The applicant, ARC Springfield, LLC, which, according to the application, owns the property where the Stop & Shop would be built, has proposed that a left turn lane be created off of Millburn Avenue that will flow into the Stop & Shop parking lot, Davitt told The Item. Installing underground traffic equipment for a future traffic signal is also in the plans for the supermarket.

 

The traffic equipment and signal and the left turn lane will be addressed through Essex County and not the Millburn Zoning Board of Adjustment because Millburn Avenue is a county road.

But, before the county can give the go-ahead for a left turn lane or traffic equipment to be erected, the application must be heard before the Millburn Zoning Board of Adjustment.

"The board will not get involved with the left turn lane ... only the use that is being sought on the Millburn side," said Davitt.

 

According to Davitt, the applicant is looking to get a conditional use variance since a 20-foot portion of land that stretches across the front of the Stop & Shop property is located in Millburn. The property, which formerly housed a Saks Fifth Avenue store, is located in Springfield, but shoppers would have to cross into Millburn to enter the parking lot. Two of the three driveways accessing the store are in Millburn.

 

Seven years ago, the Dutch conglomerate, Royal Ahold, which owns the Stop & Shop chain, won a decades-long battle with Springfield to build a supermarket on the site. A Superior Court judge overturned the Springfield zoning board's rejection of the site plan application, stating the local board was "arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable." The site plan was subsequently memorialized in Springfield in October 2006.

 

For the Millburn Zoning Board of Adjustment to grant ARC Springfield with a conditional use variance, Davitt explained, there must be no other access to the property. An existing driveway extending from Morris Avenue to the parking lot may be unsuitable for shopper traffic.

 

According to the application, efforts have been made so zoning ordinances in Millburn are not violated. Under the terms of amendments to Millburn zoning ordinances in 1996, if a new business has more than 10 percent of traffic than the previous business, then the new business cannot be built on that site without approval from the Millburn Planning Board.

If an applicant does not comply with the ordinance, it must appear before the township zoning board.

 

According to the current application, "access onto Morris Avenue is governed by the New Jersey Department of Transportation and permits for the same to have been issued to the property owner; proposed dedication of land to Essex County pursuant to relevant municipal, county and state agreements."

 

The application also noted that design waiver relief is requested from ordinance section 516.1 because "such relief is necessary in order to accommodate the traffic to and from the principal use (i.e. supermarket) located entirely within Springfield in a safe and efficient manner. Indeed, as the NJDOT governs access and traffic onto and along Morris Avenue, Route 124, the Millburn Avenue access points must provide a reasonable means for customer and truck access to and from the site."

 

Davitt said the application is likely to be heard before the Millburn Zoning Board on Sept. 19 but the date has not been finalized. Listed on the application are attorney for Woodcliff Lake firm of Price, Meese, Shulman & D'Arminio, Gail L. Price, Esq., who is representing Royal Ahold, and Michael Fowler, the engineer for the project.

 

Price was unavailable for comment as of press time and Fowler said he was unauthorized to comment on the application.

 

Michael Blazoski of Keystone Development, the consulting firm overseeing the supermarket plans, could not be reached before press time.

 

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Save Millburn is the name for the local, registered, non-profit group,
The Concerned Neighborhood Association of Millburn Township, Inc. - Email Help@SaveMillburn.com