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Montville Business Seeks to Upgrade, Merge Lots

The proposal at 112 Main Road is commercial tenants on the ground and main floor and a residence on the second floor.

There may be new business tenants moving on to Main Road in Montville.

The proposal for 12 Main Road LLC, which is 12 and 14 Main Road owned by Richard Jenkins, went before the Montville Township Zoning Board last week for approval for several variances, such as a parking variance, setbacks, signage, height of the street address numbers and accessory structure (the handicap ramp).

Jenkins is looking to renovate this location to allow for commercial tenants and a residence. The application was approved unanimously with the condition that the proposed hanging sign be eliminated. Check back with Patch on Friday for more on this issue.

Steven Schepis, attorney for the applicant, said that “Jenkins is the sole member of 12 Main Road LLC, lot No. 8. He purchased the property from (a family), who had historically maintained lot No. 7 and 8 in separate deeds and separate titles in order to avoid the automatic lot merger. As a result, Mr. Jenkins, in an attempt to maintain that zoning benefit, purchased lot 7 in his personal name and lot 8 in the name of 12 Main Road LLC.”

If approved, “we would create a deed of merger and combine the two lots into two common ownerships,” added Schepis.

To go over the characteristics of the property and specifics of the proposal was Mia Alpos Petrew, AICP, professional planner of the firm Kenneth Ochab Associates, LLC, Fair Lawn.

Alpos asked that the variances be granted because of the investment and upgrades going into the project and “looking at the scale of this local business district, which has about seven or eight properties in this general vicinity, I think vacancy is something that’s much more significant than if it were on a larger scale.”

“I think this will really help revitalize and help bring a little more vitality to this corner of Montville,” she added.

The Property

The property is in a local business zone and in the proposal, there are three levels: ground floor (basement), main (first) floor, second floor.

They are “proposing to continue the existing uses in the building,” said Alpos. There will minor renovations to the ground and main floor, with one tenant on the ground floor and two on the main floor.

The ground floor and first floor consist of commercial spaces, both office and retail. The second floor will be a 1-bedroom apartment

Square Footage:
  • Lot 7—5,460 sq. ft.
  • Lot 8—10,028 sq. ft.
  • Total Lot—15,488 sq. ft.
  • The proposed 23 sq. ft. addition will house the mechanical room.
  • Ground floor—1669 sq. ft.
  • Existing 2-car garage—631 sq. ft.
  • Main floor—1630 sq. ft.
  • Second floor—780 sq. ft.
  • Total building—a little over 4000 sq. ft.
Possible tenants for the ground and main floor include retail, personal services and offices.

“Right now Mr. Jenkins doesn’t know who his tenants are going to be, we’ve gotten a few inquiries,” said Schepis. “Any tenant that would want to come into this building would have to come before this board.”

There is a “possibility to break up the first floor to two small spaces.”

“Apartments are permitted as part of a conditional use above the ground floor,” said Alpos.

“There’s no significant physical expansion (other than) 23 sq. ft. addition for a covered deck," said Alpos. “There are substantial renovations involved with this project.

Parking

The applicant’s reason for merging the vacant lot 7 to lot 8 is for parking. Annexing the two lots gives a total of 12 parking spaces, 10 on site and two in the garage, which are for the second floor residence. Two of the 10 on-site spaces are designated for employees.

There were concerns with the 2-car garage, in which parking is double stacked within the 10-foot wide garage.

James Marinello, Board Chairman said, “No one’s going to double stacked, even if they get along great. One of those cars is going to be out in your lot.”

There is one loading space behind the building for a box truck or UPS truck. When there is a box truck, there is one part of the parking lot where the drive aisle is 11 feet, not the required 12.

Although “13 parking spaces are required … we’re more than doubling the number of spaces that is on the site today, so although we do not meet the parking requirement, we do provide substantially more than what exists now,” said Alpos.

The fire truck would not be able to make it in if there’s a big box truck or UPS truck in the loading zone, said Joseph Mianeki, engineer on the application.

Despite this, Schepis added, that the fire department did approve the site plan.

Other Improvements

There will be streetscape improvements, some sidewalk improvements, the addition of an ADA ramp to the front entrance, general façade renovations and the proposed signage.

There will be landscaping to increase the buffer between the property and the neighboring locksmith.

Schepis said that since they’re located Route 202, they needed approval from the county, which they received.

“Presently the building is somewhere between 10-12 feet from the right of way of Route 202. The county has made its policy to try to create a 66-foot wide public right-of-way along 202 for its entire stretch and they realized in many places, there are practical difficulties because you’re dealing with buildings that were built long before the county adopted this policy … What the county will do is accept an easement,” said Schepis, adding that the county planner said their plans for the easement may include moving a curb or putting in utilities.

The county said the applicant’s improvements that conflict with the right of way may remain, such as the signage and handicap access.

The New Jersey DEP determined that there are no wetlands on the property but “there is a flood hazard area, a lot of the back parking lot and the building is in a flood hazard area … we are required to get an additional permit from the DEP.”

However, there is no increase in volume of the flood hazard area, nor increase in the building in the flood hazard.

The well on the property will be capped and the storm drain is subterranean.

Garbage collection will be done early in the morning prior to operating hours for the tenants’ patrons

For the parking lot lights, two lights will be on from dusk to dawn and are in the back of the property while two lights in front of the property will turn off at 10 p.m.

Board Member Kenneth Shirkey raised concerns about the height of the back parking lot lights, which are 15 feet high, and whether or not it would interfere with the residence on the second floor. The applicant said they would get heavier shades for those lights.

Mianeki added that there is “zero net fill” and there’s a maximum 500 cu. yds leaving and coming in. He added that the construction trucks are “not a burden” because they will remain on Main Road and state highways and “will most likely go out to 287 … No topsoil will leave the township.”

Shirkey also asked if there were any other material suggestions for the handicap ramp because currently, “it’s green lumber, it’s not aesthetically pleasing at all.”

Board Member Donald Kanoff made the suggestion of painting it white. 

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