Township to Discuss Rezoning G.I. Site
Some committee members feel decision should rest with planning board.
The Montville Township Committee will be discussing whether to rezone the former G.I. Auto site to allow for big-box commercial retail or whether the decision should rest in the hands of the Montville Township Planning Board.
The discussion began at the May 8 township committee meeting where Mayor Tim Braden reported that the Economic Development Committee (EDC) has recommended that the zone be changed to allow for big-box stores.
"The EDC is requesting the township committee to consider rezoning the G.I. site to include retail, I guess for lack of a better term, big-box, which, as you know, is not included in that zone," Braden said. "However, Lowe's did go before the board of adjustment and the EDC thinks that it would be a much more marketable property if it were rezoned."
Committee Members Deb Nielson and Scott Gallopo said they would like to see the decision referred to the planning board. But Committeeman Jim Sandham said the issue was previously discussed by the planning board and overridden by the township committee. Still, Nielson said decisions of the past may be different now.
"I think that the recommendation may stand, but I think, certainly, that they're the body of authority in terms of planning in this town and it should be referred back to the planning board for an update and a reaffirmation of their prior decision, or not," she said.
Gallopo said that he had heard that a number of the planning board members would be in favor of the rezoning, but that he felt the discussion should be had at a later meeting.
The site has been the topic of development discussions for years after being vacant and then Lowe's planning to build a store there before pulling out of the project last summer. Township Administrator Victor Canning has also reported recently that the township has had discussions with the owner of the property and that the township should be working to encourage development in that area. A Pine Brook resident has also started a petition to bring a Wegmans to the site.