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Lakewood Township's Planning Board this week continued to advocate for increased pedestrian safety, with a strengthened push for sidewalks along New Hampshire Avenue.

At the Board's public hearing on March 28, an application was presented by 500 Oberlin NJ, LLC for an expansion of the 3.66 acres site of Culinary Depot site at the intersection of Oberlin Avenue and New Hampshire Avenue in the Lakewood Industrial Park.

Attorney Adam Pfeffer, Esq. and Engineer Brian Flannery, P.E., P.P., told the Board that the existing building will be demolished and it will be replaced by a rectangular three-story, 100’x 200’ footprint building. The first floor will be utilized for a combination of showroom and warehouse space. The second and third floors will be utilized as proposed office space. 

Access to the site currently consists of 2 two-way full-movement driveways from Oberlin Avenue South. These existing access driveways are to be removed and replaced with 2 approximately fifty feet wide access driveways.

Off-street parking will consist of 139 spaces, which includes 6 ADA spots, 4 of which are van accessible.

Site improvements, including stormwater management, grading, utilities, landscaping, and site lighting are proposed with this project.

There is currently curbing only along Oberlin Avenue South, and no sidewalk along either New Hampshire Avenue or Oberlin Avenue South.

The applicant's professionals told the Board that they will install sidewalk along Oberlin Avenue South, however, they can't install sidewalk along New Hampshire Avenue because, when the lot was created, there was a conservation easement imposed which precludes installation of sidewalk in that area. They added that the existing pavement is very close to their property line because of the way the County widened the road, so therefore there is also no room in the right-of-way for a sidewalk.

Board members pressed back, insisting that sidewalks are extremely important in the Township and especially in this area.

Chairman Moshe Neiman added that the Board's application checklist does stipulate that any deed restrictions needs to be attached along with the application so the Board can review it properly.

Mr. Pfeffer feebly responding that the restriction is noted on tax maps but they do not have the actual deed document.

At the Board's recent public hearing, Board Attorney John Jackson presented a draft Resolution of Approval which indicates that "there is a 50 feet wide Vegetative Buffer Easement along the east side of New Hampshire Avenue," and that the Board is granting a sidewalk waiver.

However, Board Member Yair Stern gave a final push back against granting the requested sidewalk waiver and said that the Board should postpone adoption of the Resolution until the sidewalk issue is worked out.

The Board agreed and directed the applicant to research and submit more detailed information regarding the conservation easement and what it restricts to see how they can fit in a sidewalk.

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