HOWELL — The members of the Howell Zoning Board of Adjustment have approved an applicant’s request for a use variance and the applicant’s plan 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, sought a use variance and preliminary and final major site plan approval to construct a 38,750-square-foot building for truck sales, leasing and service at a property on the state highway.
The applicant also proposed 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.
The use variance the applicant was seeking was in regard to service that would be provided to vehicles that are not purchased at the Howell location.
The location is expected to have between 35 and 40 employees. The proposed hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The application was the subject of a public hearing before the zoning board that began on Feb. 28 and concluded on March 28.
Paul Avvento is the CFO of and project manager for Gabrielli Howell Realty and Gabrielli Truck Sales. During his testimony on Feb. 28, 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. On occasion, 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.
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.
During the March 28 zoning board meeting, architect Kirk Mitchell, representing the applicant, described the proposed building and said it is separated into two sections.
The two-story portion of the building that faces Route 9 houses a showroom, sales space, office space, parts sales space and support space. The one-story portion of the building at the rear will have 12 service bays and a wash bay, Mitchell said.
The zoning board’s planner, Jennifer Beahm, complimented the application and said, “I feel like (the applicant) has put on a very comprehensive case. I think the application is a huge benefit to the area. In general, I take no exception to any of the (variance) relief you have asked for and I would submit that to the board.”
Board member Richard Mertens said based on the testimony presented by the applicant’s representatives, he concurred that the application was an excellent improvement to the Route 9 site.
“I think the architectural part of it is one of the best I have seen during my years on the zoning board,” Mertens said.
Board member Matthew Hughes complimented the building design the applicant placed before the board.
Board member Glenn Cantor told the applicant’s representatives, “Thank you very much for bringing your business and your company to Howell.”
Mertens made a motion to grant the use variance and to approve the site plan and Hughes seconded the motion.
Paul Sayah, who is the board’s vice chairman, and Cantor, Hughes, Mertens, Jose Orozco and Matthew Gonzalez voted “yes” on the motion to approve the Gabrielli Howell Realty and Howell Development application.