Convenience Store Near Central To Be Heard May 9

Some residents are concerned about the increase in traffic that a convenience store would bring. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

BERKELEY – A convenience store is proposed across the street from Central Regional High School.

The Zoning Board approved a request by a homeowner to allow a commercial application in a residential area. The house was recently demolished. The construction would be at 544 Forest Hills Parkway, the corner of Grand Central Parkway and Forest Hills Parkway (which later becomes Veterans Boulevard).

Plans for the development were recently filed, and are expected to be heard by the zoning board on May 9. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. and is held at the municipal building down the street, at 627 Pinewald-Keswick Road.

The plans show a 2,940-square-foot store, with an ATM and signage. The building would be 10 feet from the neighbor behind it on Grand Central, and 30 feet from its neighbor on Forest Hills.

This map was filed as part of the application for the proposed convenience store. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

The southbound lane of Grand Central would be two lanes. One would be a right turn only lane. The other would be for cars going either straight into the school or left. There would be an entrance and an exit on Grand Central.

The entrance on Forest Hills would be a right turn only, and exiting cars could also only go right. Forest Hills would be widened by 4 feet in front of the development. There would be 24 parking spaces.

A letter from zoning board engineer John Mallon describes Forest Hills Parkway as an “urban minor arterial roadway providing access to and from the Garden State Parkway.” He notes that buffers between the property and its neighbors are not wide enough.

While the application was deemed complete, there are still more pieces the engineer wanted, including: testimony on hours of operation, number of employees, position of air conditioning units, delivery schedules, and that the garbage was proposed to be in the front of the property.

The house was recently demolished to make room for eventual development. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

Mallon also suggested that something should be done to encourage pedestrian crossing only at the signal, since it would be sure to draw Central students.

The engineer also noted that the traffic study was performed for all seasons, not just the quietest times. It also showed that the project would not impact any other intersections.

Since both roads – Forest Hills and Grand Central – are county roads, the applicant would also need approval from the county as well.