2010-01-27 / Front Page

Marlboro Commons gains planners’ OK

Shopping center planned for Route 9 south wins unanimous support
BY REBECCA MORTON Staff Writer
Ashopping center has been approved for construction on the corner of Route 9 south and Route 520, Marlboro. At its meeting on Jan. 20 the Marlboro Planning Board granted unanimous approval to the applicant who has proposed Marlboro Commons.

The board conducted five hearings on the application.

Plans call for the construction of a 65,015-square-foot supermarket with an attached 51,500-square-foot, two-story retail building and a 1,000-square-foot retail building. A separate 14,742-square-foot building would also be built on the property.

A

PNC Bank that is on the property

would remain at its current location on Route 9 south, just south of the Route 520 intersection.

There are no definite tenants for Marlboro Commons, but a Walgreens pharmacy and a Whole Foods supermarket have been referenced during the public hearings before the board.

The applicant, Robert Pagano, is in talks with potential tenants for the shopping center.

Planner Christine Cofone, representing the applicant, told board members that the proposed restaurant use at Marlboro Commons had been reduced in terms of seating since the previous meeting.

The restaurant use, to be included in the section attached to the supermarket, had been proposed with an estimated 700 seats. Cofone had previously explained that number was an over-estimate in order to plan for parking in a worst-case scenario.

Since the board’s previous meeting, Pagano agreed to reduce the seating size of the restaurant from 700 to 400 seats, Cofone said.

With no known tenant for the restaurant space, the applicant’s professionals said the large seating capacity was offered to allow potential tenants to see what the space is approved for, rather than having to come back and request more seating in the future.

Attorney Gordon Gemma, who was representing an individual who lives near the development site and was objecting to the application, as well as residents of Serpentine Drive, which is behind the Route 9 parcel, argued that the restaurant space should be considered a banquet hall due to its large size.

The applicant had not indicated that the space would be used for a banquet hall and only referred to it as a restaurant.

Resident Maria Lehan asked if there is a liquor license available in Marlboro that the restaurant at Marlboro Commons would be able to use.

Mayor Jonathan Hornik, who sits on the board, said there is currently one liquor license available in Marlboro, although he was not certain as to the type of license that is available (retail license or consumption license). Hornik said the results of the 2010 census may indicate that additional liquor licenses will be available in Marlboro.

One major concern for residents who live on Serpentine Drive was the size of the buffer that will separate their homes from the rear of the proposed retail space and the site’s driveway. The applicant was seeking a variance from a township ordinance which requires a 250-foot buffer between a commercial zone and a residential zone.

The applicant agreed to have his professionals take part in a meeting with the township’s professionals and residents at the development site in order to plan a proper buffer with the input of the homeowners. At a minimum there will be a double row of 12-foot high evergreen trees between the two lots.

Residents brought up the possibility of an 8-foot high fence in addition to plantings and the board members asked the applicant to consider that request.

To address noise concerns associated with the rear of the commercial structure facing the backyards of the homes on Serpentine Drive, restrictions were put on the times allowed to run compactors, for deliveries and for garbage collection. Quiet hours will be imposed from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Attorney James Lott was representing Marlboro Plaza Associates, which owns Marlboro Plaza (Pathmark) on Route 9 north at Route 520.

Lott requested that the board delay its vote on Marlboro Commons until the New Jersey Department of Transportation could respond to the possibility of installing a traffic signal on Route 520 at the intersection of a driveway for Marlboro Commons and a driveway for an existing Lowes home improvement center.

The board did not hold off on a vote, but Councilman Frank LaRocca, who sits on the board, did request that the DOT examine the possibility of a signal at that location on Route 520, west of Route 9.

Voting to approve the Marlboro Commons application were board members Larry Josephs, Gerald Bergh, Mark Barenburg, Neil Betoff, LaRocca, Hornik, Josh Pollak, and alternates Andrew Pargament and Mark Rosenwald.

Pargament was sitting in for Rohit Gupta and Rosenwald was sitting in for Syed Husain.

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