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Jackson zoning board approves plan for retail buildings, convenience store

JACKSON- The members of the Jackson Zoning Board of Adjustment have approved an application that proposed the construction of three retail buildings, a convenience store and a gas station on East Veterans Highway.

Board Chairman Scott Najarian, Vice Chairman Steve Costanzo, Carl Book Jr., Michelle Russell and Lynne Bradley voted “yes” on a motion to grant the application preliminary and final major site plan approval with a minor subdivision during the board’s Dec. 15 meeting.

The applicant, 528 LLC, proposed the construction of three buildings containing 12,800 square feet of retail, office and restaurant space; a 5,676-square-foot mini-mart convenience store with a gas station; and a 16,000-square-foot shopping center with a restaurant.

Attorney Steven Leone, representing 528 LLC, said the zoning board granted the applicant a use variance in 2020 “permitting the uses we are requesting. We are here tonight for the purposes of a minor subdivision as well as site plan approval.”

As part of the subdivision application, the applicant was seeking a variance for lot width.

Engineer and planner Brian Murphy said the site plan before the board was consistent with the approved uses. The property is bordered by Jackson Liberty High School, an office building to be constructed, an adult community and East Veterans Highway.

He said the intersection with Cross Street comes into the site at a severe angle.

“We have been in a lot of discussions with Ocean County because they are redoing this entire intersection and then almost all of Cross Street. We are coordinating with them so our intersection lines up with what they are doing on their side and everything works out well, and this intersection will function well,” Murphy said.

He said the 528 LLC project will straighten the intersection. He described the first phase of construction.

“To the east of our entry boulevard is the convenience store, gas station and the 16,000-square-foot retail, office and restaurant (space),” Murphy said, adding that 166 parking spaces are required and 178 parking spaces were provided.

The second phase of construction “would essentially be everything to the west of the entry boulevard; building ‘A’ is 12,800 square feet with restaurant, retail and office (space),” Murphy said, adding that 88 parking spaces are required and 94 spaces were provided.

He said each phase would function on its own and neither phase is reliant on the other phase’s parking spaces.

The Jackson Township Municipal Utilities Authority will handle storm water management at the site, which includes four storm water basins and a pump station, Murphy said.

Scott Kennel of McDonough and Rea Associates addressed the traffic impact associated with the proposed project. He said his office updated a traffic impact study that was  provided to the board in 2020 when the use variance request was being considered.

“We conducted additional traffic counts on Veterans Highway at the maintenance yard because the board had asked us to review the traffic activity at that location and the operational characteristics,” Kennel said.

He said proposed and/or approved developments in the vicinity of the 528 LLC project were included in the updated study, as had been requested. One such project is an office complex of about 67,000 sqaure feet adjacent to the Jackson Liberty High School entrance. The revised study also accounts for Liberty Commons, which Kennel said is essentially completed and awaiting tenants.

Kennel said taking those additional projects into consideration, the levels of service regarding vehicle movement in the area generally remain the same.

“Most importantly, as it deals with the signalized intersection at Cross Street, the site would operate at a D level of service (on a scale of A to F) for the morning and afternoon time periods, which is an acceptable level by Ocean County,” Kennel said.

Without intersection improvements by Ocean County, the 528 LLC application would have the same level of service, according to Kennel.

“As far as the maintenance yard driveway access is concerned, the level of service we calculated would be at a B level of service, (which is) very good, very low delays and it will operate fine,” Kennel said.

During the public comment portion of the meeting that preceded the board’s vote to grant the 528 LLC application site plan approval, several residents expressed concern regarding the increase in traffic from all of the projects that are being developed in this area of Jackson before the roads have been improved by Ocean County and/or the municipality.

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