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Zoners, applicant work out shopping center details

By Jennifer Ortiz
Staff Writer

HOWELL – Members of the Howell Zoning Board of Adjustment may be getting closer to a decision on a proposed shopping center that would include an LA Fitness Center, two retail shopping buildings and parking facilities on Lanes Mill Road.

Testimony continued on Feb. 8 and the matter is expected to return before the board on Feb. 29. Attorney Gerald Sonnenblick, of Freehold Township, represents AAM Mill, LLC, and Lakewood Mannerchor Inc. The project is the Mill Club Shopping Center adjacent to the Greenleaf Shopping Center, approval.

Engineer Jason Burneyko, representing the applicant, described some engineering modifications that were made to portions of the site and the board’s planner, Jennifer Beahm, said the changes complied with municipal standards.

Traffic Engineer Scott Kennel, representing that applicant, said 404 parking spaces will be provided, exceeding the requirement for 305 parking spaces.

There will be access from Lanes Mill Road into the new center, Kennel said, adding that he met with Jim Hermann, Howell’s director of community development, and Tom Savino, Howell’s engineering coordinator, to address certain issues relating to the nearby Greenleaf center.

“Based upon the current operation of the traffic and how it functions … each driveway gets its green light independent of the other,” Kennel said. “During certain times of the year there is inventory stored in (an) area that is designated for parking spaces and based on the operation it was agreed that it was best to leave the driveways offset from one another, given how the Greenleaf driveway would operate, as well as the activities on the north side of Lanes Mill Road. It is best that if there are some common trips between the two shopping centers, that passenger vehicles use the main access closest to Route 9 so they are not traversing through the loading area where the Lowe’s loading docks are located.”

Kennel said leaving Lanes Mill Road as it exists is the best way to optimize the accessibility and processing of traffic. He said the township’s engineer agreed with that solution.

Board Member Thomas Posch said he believes the driveways of the two shopping centers should be aligned. Sonnenblick said that is not the best solution at the present time and in the end it was agreed that the timing of the traffic light could be made more efficient.

In another matter, an 18,000-square-foot building (building H) was a source of concern for board members.

Kennel said because of the small number of tenants in the building, between six and eight, deliveries would typically be made by box trucks or panel trucks.

“If there is an infrequent delivery by a tractor-trailer, the driver could enter from the southerly end of the parking lot and proceed northerly, and then exit the area by going between buildings G and H. It is not expected that you would have tractor-trailers serving those tenants,” Kennel said.

Beahm took a different view and said the size of a space does not dictate what types of deliveries would be received.

“You don’t know what kind of uses will be there. Dunkin’ Donuts is in the smallest of spaces and gets tractor-trailers. I want the record to be clear that saying due to a building of this size, you cannot say there will not be tractor-trailers. Building H has no tenants. How can you possibly make the statement when you don’t know who the tenant is?” Beahm said, adding that it should be assumed trucks will visit the site and for the professionals to figure out how they will be accommodated.

“There is a truck routing plan already approved on the site. The way that approval was set up is that trucks would enter from Lanes Mill Road and circulate behind the buildings and around the southerly end and exit out to either Lanes Mill Road or to Route 9. The site had been designed with the proper aisle widths to accommodate those trucks,” Kennel said.

The board’s attorney, Ronald Troppoli, said additional discussion of the matter might have to wait until more information about truck movements was provided.

Board members discussed whether to remove parking spaces from directly in front of building G and building H. Parking for building G would mostly serve LA Fitness, Kennel said. After some discussion regarding the possibility of accidents occurring at the front parking spaces, the board members opted to have the applicant remove the parking spaces from directly in front of the building.

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