Taco Bell application comes up short of ‘yes’ votes in Manalapan

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MANALAPAN – An applicant’s request for a use variance that would have resulted in the construction of a Taco Bell restaurant has failed to muster enough “yes” votes from the member of the Manalapan Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Prior to Aug. 19, the most recent hearing on the Taco Bell application took place on Jan. 21 when representatives of the applicant, Yum & Chill TB Holdings, LLC, rested their case and board members heard from residents who opposed the plan. The public hearing was closed on Jan. 21.

At that time, representatives of Yum & Chill TB Holdings said they might make changes to the application and present those changes at a subsequent meeting.

On Aug. 19, attorney Lawrence Sachs, who represented the applicant, appeared before the zoning board and said a revised application had not and would not be filed. He asked the board members to vote on the application that was before them earlier this year.

Yum & Chill TB Holdings was proposing to demolish a Shell gas and service station at the corner of Route 9 south and Taylors Mills Road and to construct a Taco Bell.

The applicant was seeking preliminary and final major site plan approval with bulk variances and use variance relief to permit the demolition of the Shell station and the construction of a 2,578-square-foot Taco Bell. The gas station has operated at the corner for 50 years.

The Taco Bell was proposed to have dine-in and drive-up service. The 0.8-acre property is  owned by PMG New Jersey, LLC, and is in Manalapan’s Office Park 3 (OP-3) zone.

The construction of a fast food restaurant and a drive-up window is not permitted in the OP-3 zone and that is why the applicant was before the zoning board to seek a use variance.

After Sachs requested a vote, board member Robert Gregowicz made a motion to approve the application and his motion was seconded by board member Larry Cooper.

Because a use variance was being sought, five “yes” votes were needed to approve the Taco Bell application, according to the Municipal Land Use Law.

On a roll call vote, Gregowicz, Cooper and board member Terry Rosenthal voted “yes.”

Board Chairman Steve Leviton and board members Mollie Kamen, Adam Weiss and Rob DiTota voted “no.”

The board’s attorney, John P. Miller, confirmed that only three board members had voted “yes,” which was two affirmative votes short of what was required. He declared that the motion to approve the Yum & Chill TB Holdings application had failed and that the application had been denied.