Howell planners approve construction of Chase Bank


HOWELL – Members of the Planning Board have voted to approve an applicant’s proposal to demolish a Gulf gas station and construct a Chase Bank branch at the corner of Route 9 North and Aldrich Road in Howell.

The applicant, JP Morgan Chase Bank NA, and the owner, PMG New Jersey LLC, were seeking preliminary and final major site plan approval to remove the existing site improvements and to construct a one-story bank with drive-up ATM service and parking for 23 vehicles.

On Oct. 17, board Chairman Robert Nash, Vice Chairman Brian Tannenhaus, Deputy Mayor Evelyn O’Donnell, Howell Police Chief Andrew Kudrick, Paul Dorato, Nicholas Huszar, Paul Schneider, Thomas Boyle and Robert Seaman voted “yes” on a motion to approve the application.

“I will miss my favorite gas station,” Seaman said.

Nash called the proposal a “very, very nice application.”

The new bank will have right-in and right-out turns on Route 9. Left turns will not be permitted from the bank to Aldrich Road.

Attorney Jennifer Porter represented the applicant and presented a plan that calls for the demolition of the gas station and the construction of a 3,028-square-foot building with drive-up lanes. Chase Bank is expected to lease the site from PMG New Jersey.

Porter said that during a hearing in September, concerns were raised about a plan to provide an Amazon Locker facility at the bank.

Amazon Locker is a self-service package delivery service offered by the online retailer Amazon. A customer may select a locker location as a delivery address and retrieve his order at that location.

Porter told board members the Amazon Locker facility had been removed from the application.

“We ultimately determined that for various reasons … it was not needed at this time,” the attorney said.

Regarding concerns about lighting, engineer and project manager Martin Swaggard said the plan was revised to provide extra lighting on the roads. He said New Jersey Department of Transportation staff members did not object to the changes the applicant made in the lighting plan.

Dorato asked about services the bank would offer, and specifically if the branch would be for financial services only and not a traditional bank.

Susan Cunningham, Market Director of Real Estate for Chase Bank, said, “We are more than a traditional branch, we also do investments … you can come in if you want a mortgage, or investment advice and want to open a portfolio. We have that, as well as traditional (banking services).”