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Howell zoning board considers application for truck sales operation

HOWELL – The members of the Howell Zoning Board of Adjustment are expected to hear additional testimony on March 28 regarding an applicant’s request for a use variance and to construct a truck sales operation on Route 9 north between West Farms Road and Casino Drive.

Gabrielli Howell Realty, LLC, as the applicant, and Howell Development, LLC, as the owner, are seeking a use variance and preliminary and final major site plan approval to construct a two-story, 38,750-square-foot building for truck sales, leasing and service, with associated parking, loading and fueling space at a property on the state highway.

Attorney Meryl Gonchar, Paul Avvento, a representative of the owner, and engineer Julia Algeo presented the application at the zoning board’s Feb. 28 meeting.

Avvento is the CFO of and project manager for Gabrielli Howell Realty and Gabrielli Truck Sales. He said the company started in 1966. In 1983, Gabrielli Truck Sales acquired its first full truck dealership.

“In 1990, when I joined the company, we had two dealerships. Today we currently have 21 dealerships in three states,” Avvento said, adding that Gabrielli employs about 850 people in three states.

There are four full-service truck dealerships in New Jersey and the company’s franchise agreement is with Kenworth trucks, he said.

The primary plan for the Howell location is to provide vehicles to municipal customers.

“At all of the other dealerships we have full-service dealers and we also handle municipal and commercial business. At this new dealership, we are going to handle probably 90% municipal sales and leasing, and occasionally some vehicles that have been sold outside of the Howell dealership will be brought in for service along with some rental and lease trucks that we will also sell from this location,” Avvento said.

The applicant is proposing to sell parts at the Howell location. Parts available for purchase would include headlights, bumpers, mirrors, window glass, transmission filters, oil filters and anything related to a truck’s cab and engine, he said.

Avvento told the zoning board members that most of the company’s sales are made on the road, “so the amount of customers coming into this facility will really only be for picking up parts and occasionally coming in to look at some of the trucks we have on the lot that are the new vehicles under the Kenworth franchise.”

Because the Howell location is primarily intended to serve municipal/government customers, there will not be a significant number of customers coming to the site to look for a new truck, he said.

The use variance the applicant is seeking is in regard to service that would be provided to vehicles that are not purchased at the Howell location, Gonchar said.

Avvento said, “When we did the study for this location on Route 9, that was one of the reasons we decided on this site because it does take into consideration a lot of the municipalities that are in this area that have a pretty hard time coming up to (our location in South Brunswick) to get trucks repaired or even to buy parts.

“Based on our model of what we do with our businesses, and to make it a municipal facility mostly, and with leasing and rental, (Howell) is a really good location for us,” he said.

The Howell location would have between 35 and 40 employees. The proposed hours of operation would be Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

No decision regarding the Gabrielli Truck Sales application was reached on Feb. 28 and the application was carried to the zoning board’s March 28 meeting.

Zoning board member William Stahnten has recused himself from hearing the application due to a business conflict of interest with the applicant.

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