Sports, Retail Plan Starts To Take Shape

Today, the former Foodtown site is just barren blacktop and weeds. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)
Today, the former Foodtown site is just barren blacktop and weeds. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

BRICK – Plans for the redevelopment of the former Foodtown site on Route 70 are in full swing since the final site plan was unanimously approved by the Brick Planning Board during their March 13 meeting.

The 11-acre parcel has been vacant since it was purchased by the township in 2003 for $6.1 million. The site has been split in half and will be developed by two separate entities who will each pay the township $2.5 million.

The project is a joint venture and would be viewed as one site in terms of upkeep and parking, said representatives during a December Planning Board meeting when the preliminary site plan and subdivision was approved.

Planning Board members made some recommendations during the December meeting and in the recent meeting engineer Jeffrey Carr of Linstrom, Diessner and Carr said the final site plan “fundamentally complies with the conditions of approval.”

The layout is fundamentally the same, with plans for M&M Development to construct three retail buildings fronting Route 70 (a 22,978 square foot retail building; two attached retail units of 6,400 square feet, and a separate 4,300 square foot restaurant pad drive-through), and HFZ Brick LLC plans to build a 75,000 square-foot “Super Dome” in the rear of the property, fronted by and attached to a two-story 26,880 square foot building.

“Based on the Board comments, we tweaked it and made some improvements and made it better,” Carr said.

Reducing the size of the 10×20-foot parking spaces to 9×18-foot spaces increases the number of parking spots from 368 to 388, the engineer said.

The separation of buildings is slightly increased for fire access, and a “pedestrian network” links eastward to connect the site to a jogging path and gives cross-access to St. Thomas Church.

Township Planner Tara Paxton noted that the impervious coverage for the plan stands at 87 percent while the municipal ordinance requires no more than 80 percent. Impervious coverage means the amount of the property that is covered by buildings, roads or other material that stops rainwater from draining into the soil.

Carr said the site currently has an impervious coverage of 100 percent, even in the areas that are green and have grown over the cement.

“Since it’s a redevelopment plan, CAFRA would allow us to keep it at 100 percent,” noted the engineer. (CAFRA is the Coastal Area Facilities Review Act, which governs construction near bodies of water.)

“Could it be reduced to 80 percent?” Paxton asked.

“It could always be reduced,” Carr said.

These drawings were presented at the Planning Board meeting, showing what the property will look like. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)
These drawings were presented at the Planning Board meeting, showing what the property will look like. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

Paxton said this would be a good opportunity to improve landscaping on the site and opportunities for areas of impervious coverage such as the use of planters and scattered rain gardens.

There could be cuts in the concrete curbs to allow rainwater drainage into the rain gardens, she said. The site currently has plans for two large rain gardens and one smaller one.

Board of Adjustment Engineer Ted Wilkenson asked about the drainage and removal of total suspended solids (TSS) on the site, which drains directly into the Metedeconk River.

Carr said that the developers have to abide by (State Department of Environmental Protection) standards, and “we’re not asking for a reduction or a waiver or relief from the DEP,” he said. “I don’t think we’d get it.”

The water quality plan hasn’t been designed yet, he added. “The DEP is the keeper of the environment; when we get to that point let them do their job,” Carr said.

HFZ Attorney John Jackson said the DEP rules are usually the most stringent.

Wilkinson asked if the local utility company has rendered an opinion on the redevelopment plan and said it should before the Planning Board vote.

Planning Board Member Councilman Paul Mummolo asked if the Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority approval could be conditional in order to keep up on the momentum of the application.

Wilkinson agreed with Mummolo’s conditional approval suggestion.

The application has approval from the Department of Transportation, and will now seek approval from CAFRA (NJDEP), BTMUA, the Ocean County Planning Board and the Ocean County Soil Conservation District. Carr said they hope to break ground in the fall.