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Salt cave spa gains approval from Manalapan Planning Board

MANALAPAN – The Manalapan Planning Board has given the go-ahead to an applicant who plans to open the Himalayan Salt Cave Spa and Float in commercial space on Route 9.

The former Siperstein’s paint store at 330 Route 9 North is owned by Carter Troyan, who operates a dry cleaning business at that location.

Rachel Ozana is the owner of the Himalayan Salt Cave Spa and Float, which will occupy 2,500 square feet in the 8,600-square-foot building. Testimony indicated 1,500 square feet in the building would remain empty at this time.

The use Ozana proposed is permitted and was not at issue when the application was heard by the board on Feb. 14. What was at issue was whether there are enough parking spaces at the building to accommodate both businesses.

Ozana was represented before the board by attorney Stuart Moskovitz and architect Jack Smith.

Ozana testified her business would operate by appointment only. She said that in 45-minute appointments, clients would be able to avail themselves of the salt cave, the float pool, a sauna, facials and massages.

The salt cave is a form of therapy for individuals who have conditions such as asthma and bronchitis, Ozana said.

Board members did not object to any of the services Ozana plans to offer. They sought answers regarding the number of employees and clients who would be at the location at its peak use.

Testimony indicated Manalapan’s ordinance requires 44 parking spaces based on the size of the building. The property has 21 parking spaces and Troyan testified his business uses a maximum of five spaces. He said he has corporate accounts which drop off laundry at a drive-up window.

Under questioning from board members, Ozana said the number of clients in the spa at one time could range from about nine to about 15, plus about three employees.

Moskovitz said Ozana understands that if she does not have enough parking spaces, the business will not succeed.

Ozana said she would be able to walk to the business from her home and will not have to use a parking space.

Moskovitz reiterated that the business is an approved use in the C-3 commercial zone on the state highway.

Planning Board members said they did not want Ozana’s clients or employees to park on Franklin Lane, which is behind the building, or at nearby businesses on Route 9.

Deputy Mayor Jack McNaboe, who sits on the board, said, “This place is under-parked no matter what we do. I think parking is a major hindrance to this business.”

Board member John Castronovo said there would be clients coming and going throughout the business day, and added, “We want a viable business. The testimony (about parking) sounds wishy-washy.”

The board’s engineer, Brian Boccanfuso, said there is no similar business listed in the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) manual that would help him to determine what the parking demand would be at the salt cave spa.

Boccanfuso said he had no good estimate regarding the parking situation and added, “the board is going to have to make a determination. I can’t offer guidance as to whether the parking is going to be sufficient.”

Smith, the architect representing Ozana, testified that he saw no detriment to or negative impact on the salt cave spa if the board granted a variance for the parking situation. He said the well-being of clients would be the benefit of approving the business.

Smith said the owner of the business, and not the ITE manual, would have the best idea of the number of parking spaces that would be required.

Following the discussion among the board’s professionals, its members and the applicant, a motion was made to approve the application as presented.

Chairwoman Kathryn Kwaak, Vice Chairman Todd Brown and board members Daria D’Agostino, Alan Ginsberg, David Kane, Township Committeeman Barry Jacobson, McNaboe and Castronovo voted “yes” on the motion to approve the application.

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