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Plans are underway for a new retail shopping center at the congested Lakewood/ Toms River border on New Hampshire Avenue, FAA News has learned.

Red Porch Holdings, which is owned by Yehuda Dachs, has submitted Application SP 2507 for Site Plan approval for a single story retail shopping center on New Hampshire Avenue northbound, between Locust Street and Route 70.

Per the Site Plan and Architectural plans, the building will include nearly 24,000 sq feet across 14 retail stores. The parking lot will contain 128 parking spaces including 10 EV spaces and 6 ADA-compliant spaces of which 2 will be van accessible.

The site is located in the B-5A Highway Development Zone where retail shopping centers are a permitted use.

The application seeks a variance for Minimum Lot Area where 2 acres is required and 1.95 acres is provided; as well as a variance for Minimum Front Yard Setback to New Hampshire Avenue where 100  feet is required and 84 feet is provided.

As depicted on the Site Plan, Rochelle Street and Solar Avenue which are both currently unimproved, will be improved with pavement and curbing. Rochelle Street will also receive sidewalk. (A waiver from installing sidewalk on Solar Avenue is being requested.) These paper streets will be improved so as to provide a truck delivery area separate from the main parking area.

The proposed main access to the site would be provided by a right-in/right-out 24 feet wide driveway from New Hampshire Avenue. A proposed secondary access would be provided by a two-way driveway 24 feet wide from Rochelle Street. A third proposed access to the parking lot will be provided from the end of Solar Avenue. 2 more access driveways are proposed from Solar Avenue for the loading zone behind the retail building.

The plans also depict other site improvements including fencing, retaining walls, stormwater management, utilities, landscaping, and lighting proposed for the retail building.

As a condition of the approval, the developer will provide Ocean County with a 7 foot wide right-of-way dedication along New Hampshire Avenue for future road widening.

This new shopping center will be located just to the south of where construction is currently ongoing for 130 duplex homes, an office building, yet another retail building, and a community shul.

All these homes will be walking distance to this newly proposed shopping center, however, unfortunately, years ago the Planning Board granted that developer a waiver from installing sidewalk along their main roads, so it will be unsafe and very impractical for those residents to walk to this shopping center.

Back on December 15, 2015, the Planning Board granted Site Plan approval to Somerset New Hampshire LLC (then owned by Ralph Zucker) for 37 duplex structures, (74 homes) with only a single right in / right out access road off Route 70. Each unit will have 4 parking spaces.

The application also included, along Route 70, a 2-story, 83,560 sq foot office / retail building and a 1-story, 33,316 sq foot retail building, with a total of 134 parking spaces to serve these buildings, as well as a 2-story 8,788 sq foot community building (2,275 sq feet main synagogue) with 15 off-street and 19 on-street parking spaces (which will be privately owned by the HOA of the development.

At the bend in the far back corner, the development will have its own privately owned 18,900 sq foot park. They will also have an additional tot lot / park with a walking path at the other end of the road, as well as open space near the community building.

The internal roads will have 5 feet wide sidewalks instead of the typical 4 feet wide, however, the Planning Board did grant a waiver from installing sidewalk along both New Hampshire Avenue and Route 70.

At some point, New Hampshire 54 LLC (owned by Yehuda Dachs) acquired this project.

Initial site clearing began in March 2021. The Township Engineering Department granted final construction approval on May 3, 2022 and construction has been underway since.

Subsequently, on November 18, 2019, the Zoning Board granted Use Variance approval to Somerset NH LLC (owned by Ralph Zucker) for up to 30 duplex structures (60 homes) on a new cul-de-sac off New Hampshire Avenue.

Use Variance relief was required as this parcel is located in the B-5 Highway Development Zone where duplexes are not a permitted use.

The Board stipulated that as a condition of approval for their future Site Plan, they needed to pave a room connecting this development to the previously approved development off Route 70, so as to allow thosr residents to drive towards central Lakewood without needing to first go out the way east on Route 70.

On November 9, 2020 the Board granted Final Site Plan approval to a modified plan for 28 duplex structures (56 homes), a shul and a playground. 

The road that runs through the development, Budleman Way, will have two, eighteen feet wide, one-way lanes separated by a curb island. New curb and sidewalk are proposed along the tract’s road frontages.⁣

In accordance with RSIS requirements that a secondary access road is required on cul-de-sacs with more than 24 units, the board conditioned this approval that no more than 25 Certificate of Occupancies may be obtained until the secondary access road has been constructed.

The Board further conditioned their approval that the developer will utilize good faith in discussing certain traffic improvements with the County, including an egress lane along New Hampshire Avenue. The Township Department has not yet granted construction approval for this development as they are still waiting for compliance with this condition.

It appears that the Buddleman Way application also leaves room for a possible future development directly to the south to connect to the other developments. However, unfortunately the new shopping center will not line up with Buddleman Way, so residents will either need to drive or walk along Route 70 or New Hampshire Avenue, both of which previously received sidewalk waivers.

Wondering how traffic will look once all these developments are constructed?

Have no fear!

Red Porch Holdings has submitted a Traffic Study, conducted by McDonough & Rea Associates. They counted 995 cars traveling on New Hampshire Avenue northbound during the 8:30-9:30AM peak hours. They somehow decided that all 14 retail stores will only generate 35 trips heading into the shopping center during that hour. On top of this, they also "surcharged" expected traffic from the other two developments.

Based on this traffic studying, they discovered that by 2033 the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and Locust Street will operate at a level E during the AM peak hour (which has considerable more traffic than the PM peak hour), and that the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and Rochelle Street will operate at a level F for both the AM and PM peak hours.

Uh oh.... That's not a pretty picture....

Oh, no worries! McDonough and Rea Associates just remembered that the Township is still working on paving the Vermont Avenue Extension, and once that is eventually completed, traffic will be flowing just dandy!

"It is MRA's opinion that the peak hour traffic volumes will be reduced and the level of service will improve when the Vermont Avenue roadway is open to 2-way traffic which will provide an important north/south collector roadway between Route 9 and New Hampshire Avenue....

"Therefore, it is concluded that the application can be approved, and when constructed and occupied, will operate compatibly with future traffic conditions," the traffic study confidently concludes.

Application SP 2507 is on the Board's May 9 public hearing agenda.

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