BRICK – Developers for a proposed Wawa gas station and retail complex to be located at the front of the Laurelton Mobile Home Park have come up with a ‘Plan B’ after their first application was narrowly turned down by the Board of Adjustment last August in a 4 to 3 vote.
During a special Board of Adjustment hearing held recently, the developer, JSM @ Martin Blvd., LLC, came back with a new application that would still include a Wawa convenience store and gas station, a bank, and a retail pad at the 12-acre site, but would no longer include a daycare center.
“We have made appropriate accommodations that were necessary, and we’d like to have this application heard on its own merits,” said JSM attorney Douglas Wolfson at the start of the hearing.
With the elimination of the daycare center, the combined square footage of the buildings was decreased from 29,000 square feet to 17,000 square feet.
The new application includes a 5,051 square foot Wawa and a gas service area; a 4,535 square foot bank, and a 7,182 square-foot retail building in which a 3,000 square-foot restaurant would be located, Wolfson said.
The developer, JSM (Jack and Sheryl Morris) would still need variances, said Ron Aulenbach, director of engineering for Edgewood Properties, but by eliminating the daycare center that number went from 14 to five variances – three that are related to the undersized lot, and two that are related to the mobile home park.
(Jack Morris, who is the president and chief executive officer of Edgewood properties, is a well-known developer in Brick who built the Costco shopping center and who will be developing part of the vacant Foodtown site).
JSM traffic engineer Karl Pehnke explained that three entrances/exits were part of the site plan. The Route 88 driveways would be located 200 feet east of Jack Martin Boulevard and a second driveway would be 800 feet east of Jack Martin. A third driveway would be on Jack Martin Boulevard.
“There are benefits to the proposed use of the site because patrons are already there for the Wawa. Unlike a Walmart or a CVS, which draws traffic to the area, Wawa services cars and they return to the road,” Pehnke said.
The commercial development of the corner would improve site lines for traffic since the shoulder and westbound Route 88 would be widened with curbing and sidewalks, Pehnke said.
Board of Adjustment engineer Brian Boccanfuso and board member Mike Jamnik raised safety concerns about traffic entering and exiting onto Route 88, a curved and undivided highway.
“Making a left out of either of those exists is dangerous. I didn’t like it the first time,” said Jamnik, referring to the previous application.
Restricting a left turn out for drivers during certain times presents safety problems and motorist abeyance, Boccanfuso added.
After Board President Harvey Langer allowed a five minute recess to give time for Wolfson and the JSM engineers to discuss the driveways, they came back and said they would move the easternmost driveway westward and designate it as a right-turn in and out entrance only.
“We would accept it,” Wolfson said. “It is not a condition of our application.”
Boccanfuso said he also had “a significant concern” about traffic congestion within the complex “and could spill out onto Route 88.”
Langer urged the JSM engineers to take another look at the traffic flow with an eye on urging motorists to exit the site at the Jack Martin Boulevard driveway, which leads to a traffic light at the intersection of Route 88.
As part of the first application, JSM said that the occupied mobile homes would be allowed to remain onsite and any of the homes affected by the development would be relocated from the front of the property towards the back. It was not clear if this would still be the case in the second application.
Mobile home parks are allowed in the township under certain circumstances, which includes the pre-existing, age-restricted Laurelton Mobile Home Park.
At one time there were more than 100 homes at there, but now only about 36 are occupied as residents have either moved or died.
About two dozen residents of the mobile home park attended the hearing, many hoping to speak, but the meeting ended just after 10 p.m. before the floor was open to public comment.
Testimony would continue and residents would probably get their chance to speak during a second special meeting on the application, scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.