Pine Brook Man Wants Wegmans on Rt. 46
Master Plan would encourage big retail at former G.I. Auto Salvage site.
Brent Jerolimic already knows the first things he would buy if a Wegmans grocery store opened in Montville: grass-fed beef and "one of their amazing signature fresh baked desserts."
Jerolimic, 33, has started a petition in hopes that he can attract the chain store, which has stores throughout the northeast according to its website, to the G.I. Auto Salvage Co. site at Route 46 and Old Bloomfield Avenue where Lowe's was considering placing a store in 2011. Lowe's pulled the plug on the project, which included a 137,000-square-foot store and garden center, in August, the same week as the company announced the closing of seven stores.
Jerolimic said reading about Lowe's' decision not to build a store at the site prompted him to consider what would best serve Pine Brook residents in that location. And on Friday, he decided to take action by starting an online petition, reaching out to Mayor Tim Braden and sending a letter to Wegmans management.
Jerolimic said he is very familiar with the Wegmans in Bridgewater, as his parents live near the store.
"I've been going there from time to time over the years," he said. "I'm a big foodie: I like to cook, I like to eat. My first time going to Wegmans was like a religious experience for a foodie like me."
What Jerolimic said he likes most about Wegmans is the quality of the food, as well as the wine classes. He and his wife, Christina, 34, and Luka, 2, eat organically and have been traveling to two different food stores-Shop Rite in Parsippany and Stop & Shop in West Caldwell-in order to get everything they need. The Jerolimics, who have lived in Pine Brook since 2006, also grow their own vegetables in the summer. But Jerolimic said if there were a Wegmans in Montville, he would be buying all of his groceries in one store.
"To have a Wegmans, they're huge. They have everything you want. You can talk to the butcher and they will tell you which farm (the meat) comes from," he said.
Jerolimic reached out to Wegmans about his interest in having a store in Montville.
"We received your e-mail asking that we build a Wegmans store near your community. Thank you! We take that as a compliment and will share your request with our real estate department," a community affairs representative responded.
Montville Township Planning Board Vice-Chairman Gary Lewis said a Wegmans would be under the scope of what the board envisioned for the site and would be allowed under the Master Plan, developed in 2010.
"The master plan for that location encourages a big retail use like that," he said.
However, since Lowe's had received a zoning variance to place its store at that location, in order to be approved, Wegmans would have to either conform to the conditions of the variance approval or petition the township committee to have the ordinance, which states permissible uses for that site, changed to match the Master Plan.
Speaking not on behalf of the planning board, but as a resident of Montville, Lewis said he too would like to see a Wegmans in town.
"I think that a Wegmans would be terrific for the town of Montville and, in my view, it would be a terrific addition to that site," he said.