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As earlier reported here on FAA News, (, the developers of the Aisle Nine supermarket appeared this week before Lakewood Township's Zoning Board seeking approval to expand their site with an additional 3 story building for retail use, food preparation, and offices.

The Zoning Board halted the plans, demanding more transparency in the architectural plans and additional parking.

The plan presented to the Board seeked to demolish the existing gas station and to reconfigure the existing parking lot to fit an additional 10 parking spaces, for a total of 37 parking spaces. These parking spaces include 6 spaces right in front of the store, where there are always pallets blocking anyone from parking there.

The architectural plans submitted show additions to the retail store, food prep areas, as well as several offices.

According to the Site Plan designed by NewLines Engineering, - and presented to the Board by Engineer Brian Flannery - the total of 37 parking spaces being provided are sufficient according to the Township's ordinances for retail shopping centers which require 1 space per 200 sq feet of retail use and 1 space per 1,000 sq feet of "warehouse space" (Mr. Flannery testified to the board that food preparation areas are considered as "warehouse space").

Board members pointed out that there is still a lot of "unmarked space" in the architectural plans. Noting that Aisle Nine has somehow expanded from the "convenience store" the Board originally approved, board members inquired how can we trust that the "food prep areas" (for which they are only providing minimal amount of parking) won't be converted to additional retail space which will fit many more people.

Board member Moish Ingber also noted that many offices could be built in the "unmarked areas" and they are not providing any parking for offices.

Board Member Moish Lankry, noted that as a proprietor of food establishment, he knows that food preparation areas are different from standard "industrial warehouses" as they often have a lot more employees at once and therefore, sufficient parking must be provided for them as well. Mr. Lankry commented "your plan will triple the size of the existing store, you need to triple the parking spaces as well".

The proposed building addition will include an off-road truck loading spot which will be accessed from 10th Street. Board members expressed concerns with the amount of delivery trucks already blocking multiple driveways on the block, saying that the proposed single delivery spot is insufficient. They also noted that the proposed delivery spot will be accessed only from 10th Street which is only 30 feet wide, and this will not suffice for a large truck to k-turn into the proposed loading spot.

When the Board opened the meeting to public participation, David Helmreich, who is also a member of the Planning Board, strongly objected to the application.

Mr. Helmreich noted (as previously reported here on FAA News) that the legal notice is deficient because it lists the wrong zone. He also noted that the notice should be deficient because it doesn't accurately describe the proposal as a major expansion of a supermarket (the notice simply says "commercial building").

Mr. Helmreich also stated that the "sufficient" parking plan is actually grossly not sufficient, as the Township ordinance (18-807) delineates that in a "retail trade or personal service establishments, other than in a shopping center of 100,000 square feet or more: one space for each 200 square feet of gross floor area", and the reduced requirement of "1 space per 1,000 sq feet for warehouse space" only applies to "wholesale trade establishments" which this is not.

Mr. Helmreich urged the Board to table the application and direct the developers to completely redesign the application and provide accurate notice to the neighbors and public.

Engineer Brian Flannery attempted to tell the Board that there are "benefits" to this application as the existing building is only 2 stories and the additional building will be 3 stories and this will "fit better into the neighborhood" as it is "a high building just like BMG".

Board Member Moish Lankry summed it all up, saying "there is nothing beneficial in this application. If we approve this as submitted, the situation will get much worse than it is now." He added "you have a successful store, but you need to provide sufficient parking."

The application is tabled at least until September 12. They will provide a new notice if, and when, they want to return to the Board with a revised plan.

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