The Bordentown Township Planning Board approved an application for the proposed construction of a CVS Pharmacy at the corner of Farnsworth Avenue and Route 130.
The application was approved at a Feb. 13 planning board meeting upon testimony from the applicant’s traffic study, which proposed multiple changes to the intersection where the CVS is sited.
Contingent upon approval from Burlington County officials, construction of the CVS is aimed to begin in early 2021, with anticipated completion by the end of 2021 or beginning of 2022, according to officials.
The board heard initial testimony at a Dec. 12 meeting to hear a site application for Pomona Development Group LLC, which calls for the proposed construction of a 9,600 square foot mixed-use, single story CVS storefront location. The developer sought adjournment twice on the second half of their site plan presentation until the February meeting.
The applicant sought preliminary and final site plan approval as well as a major subdivision approval and related bulk variances associated with a proposed development of the pharmacy, associated parking and site improvements for the existing McDonald’s restaurant located on the Route 130 and Farnsworth Avenue corner property. The site proposed for the pharmacy is in the township’s Gateway Commercial – South Zone.
The variances request per the application included a reduction in lot width and frontage, a sign variance and a variance to permit a freestanding sign area. The applicant also sought a sign variance associated with the approval to permit a monument sign on the planned site identifying the existing McDonald’s restaurant and any additional tenant/s on an adjacent lot.
After an initial hearing from the applicant was held at the December board meeting, additional testimony at the February meeting included proposed changes to the building design per the township professionals’ request as well as a traffic study, which officials said was a vital component of the site plan.
According to a traffic study provided by the applicant’s traffic engineer, Nathan Mosley, the plan calls for multiple changes to the intersection at Farnsworth Avenue and Route 130, which officials said is currently operating at a grade “D” level of service. Level “D” service is defined as “approaching unstable flow.”
Officials said speeds slightly decrease as traffic volume slightly increases, but freedom to maneuver within the traffic stream is limited. Vehicles are spaced approximately eight car lengths, and minor incidents are expected to create delays.
Mosley said the applicant’s professionals had met with the Department of Transportation (DOT) in past meetings to discuss changes to the intersection, which are aimed to improve traffic flow around the site once the CVS is built and operational.
According to Mosely, the planned changes call for the addition of a designated left turn lane for vehicles traversing on Farnsworth Avenue toward Route 130 as well as a green arrow designated lane at the intersection. Officials said this is planned to provide motorists approximately 11 to 14 seconds to allow four to five cars to turn onto Route 130 southbound from Farnsworth Avenue. Additional green time is planned as well for motorists to yield to oncoming traffic from Bordentown City and make a left turn, safely, officials said.
Officials said a re-striping of the road to create the designated left turn lane on Farnsworth Avenue will extend back from the intersection, just short of Municipal Drive.
“There is still going to be delay here, but operationally, there will be a lot more people able to get through this intersection,” Mosley said.
Although planned changes for this historically difficult intersection are intended to improve traffic flow, residents still voiced their concerns with the application.
Clark Boyd, owner of Boyd’s Pharmacy in Bordentown, questioned the applicant’s professionals during public comment in reference to drivers attempting to make a left onto Farnsworth Avenue from the proposed CVS parking lot.
“The person making a left would have to look both ways and across the street from Municipal Drive, and the backup from Route 130 coming down Farnsworth Avenue is 280 feet. If the light is red and you have 280 feet of traffic in a 300-foot driveway, then how do you make a left? You can’t. The light turns green…you have constant stream of traffic with 20 feet of space [to turn],” Boyd said.
Boyd’s daughter, Caron Cullen, also spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting to voice her concerns with the proposed site and its potential affect on the family business as well as pedestrian safety risks.
“We own a business here, we work here and we live here,” Cullen said. “Our employees consist of our own family members, daughters, sons, nicest, nephews they all work here.
Many community members, they all live right here in Bordentown. We personally know all of our patients and customers. We eat here, we shop here, we drive here we are involved in various activities here, sponsorships and community events.
“We know this is going to be a major traffic problem that it already is. You need to really look over this traffic pattern and what’s going to be safe for this corner and this intersection…Your concerns and all considerations should be all about the safety of the community you are serving and planning for. You should be so focused on how to make this intersection better, not more hectic and more dangerous with more traffic,” Cullen said.
Following additional public comment and testimony, the board members made a motion of approval for the application, which was unanimously passed by the board. Shortly before his vote of approval, Bordentown Township Mayor Stephen Benowitz explained his reasoning for his vote of “yes” on the application.
“Why I’m doing this is because I can’t take into consideration what this will do for businesses. I have to go by municipal land use law,” Benwotiz said. “I also have to consider what’s best for 12,000 residents. This project, I have to believe is going to improve the situation at that intersection, which hasn’t been improved in forever.
“I moved here in 1969, and it was a failed intersection at that time. I have to believe what is being said in testimony,” Benowitz said.