LACEY – No one need go hungry in Lacey. The township has a Wendy’s, White Castle, McDonald’s, a Perkins Restaurant, and very soon, a Chipotle Mexican Grill, a Starbucks and the return of Burger King.
Regardless of a global pandemic which has taken a large economic bite out of the nation’s economy new establishments are seeking to open their doors in this corner of southern Ocean County.
Lacey Road and Route 9 are the hub of Lacey’s expanding areas that are already lined with restaurants, chain stores and familiar local restaurants. The township committee over the years have looked to adding various box store businesses to supplement their tax base with strong ratables.
With the now defunct Exelon owned Oyster Creek Generating Station closing, it will eventually no longer serve as its largest commercial taxpayer, and the township needs new ratables now more than ever.
The oldest nuclear power plant in the country closed two years ago and is in the process of its full decommissioning.
The facility’s property value and taxes owed now fall under Holtec who is responsible for the decommissioning process. That process includes removing buildings off the site.
Members of the township’s planning board each voted to approve a site plan approving the building of a Burger King and Chipotle restaurants in Sunset Plaza, on Route 9 and Sunrise Boulevard between Route 9 and Home Depot.
Lacey had a Burger King on Route 9 for years but it closed within the last year. That location will soon become a Popeye’s restaurant.
Years ago, the site that will host the new Burger King and Chipotle had been given the green light for a bank and retail store but those plans never developed according to Gregory Hock, the attorney who represents developer 2020 Equities LLC who discussed the plan during a recent Lacey Planning Board meeting.
He noted it was also approved for a kidney dialysis center which also didn’t go forward. The two restaurants will both share the site and will include indoor dining areas with drive-thru and take out areas according to the application.
Drive-thru visits have greatly increased during the current pandemic and fast food and quick service chains such as Starbucks have noted expansion plans for their drive-thru operations. The Starbucks coming to Lacey will be constructed by developer Invest River, LLC at the northwest corner of an intersection on Lacey Road and Manchester Avenue.
One condition was imposed on the applicant requiring the developer to eliminate a proposed entrance from Manchester Boulevard.
Patrons will access the coffee shop which will replace what is currently a bank, from Veterans Way. Planning Board members discussed the elimination of the entrance on Manchester Avenue noting concerns of safety and numerous accidents that have occurred plus a high traffic flow in the intersection.
Lacey received approval from the state to create a town center last year. It would be based along Lacey Road and Route 9 and this designation permits the township environmental restrictions concerning building density which is necessary to attract new businesses.
Township officials would like to see new business growth to aid them in preventing a tax increase that would hit homeowners as the power plant’s property tax bill decreases in the wake of its decommissioning.