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Route 1 Redevelopment Testimony to Resume in Sept.

Last week's Lawrence Township Zoning Board meeting featured two hours of testimony concerning the proposed redevelopment of the Mrs. G property and adjacent vacant lots along Route 1 at Bakers Basin Road. Testimony will resume at the next meeting Sept. 19

Last week’s Lawrence Township Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting featured two more hours of testimony concerning the that form the southeastern corner of the intersection of Route 1 (Brunswick Pike) and Bakers Basin Road.

Charles Olivo, the professional engineer for the developer, 2012 Lawrenceville Associates (formerly Ferber Construction Management), continued his testimony under cross-examination from Kevin Moore, an attorney representing the owners of the Shell gas station located at Route 1 and Franklin Corner Road directly opposite the proposed redevelopment area.

As part of the proposal before the zoning board, existing buildings on the properties – including the current Mrs. G showroom, a vacant business, an abandoned diner, and three unoccupied homes – would be demolished. Constructed in their place would be five stand-alone buildings that would house a new Mrs. G. store, a McDonald’s restaurant, a Wawa convenience store with fuel pumps and a TD Bank branch. A tenant has yet to be secured for the fifth structure.

“I just want to reiterate something I said last meeting – my client does not oppose this application,” Moore said at the beginning of the Aug. 15 meeting. “We just have concerns about the traffic impacts of the application, predominantly on our access and the functioning of the intersection right by our property, and then to the extent that drainage and on-site operational impacts affect that. We have those concerns.”

Moore peppered Olivo with a variety of questions about the current ground water levels at the site and plans for storm water drainage and flood mitigation; whether parking spaces at the WaWa would be capable of accommodating larger vehicles such as those towing landscaping trailers; and the frequency and timing of fuel and food deliveries to the WaWa.

After Olivo presented an oversized, computer-altered photograph showing what the redeveloped site might look like when completed, Moore asked questions about the types and heights of the trees that would be planted to replace trees removed as part of the construction process.

James Kochenour, the zoning board’s traffic consultant, meanwhile, questioned Olivo about the proposed locations of the buildings on the site and how those placements impact the anticipated flow of vehicles through the adjacent parking areas. Kochenour was particularly concerned about dead-end parking lots to the front and rear of the new Mrs. G. building and asked if those dead-ends might be eliminated by rotating the orientation of the Mrs. G building.

“We have looked at a number of configurations within this area to achieve the best parking. The plan before you is really the most optimal from a circulation perspective. Mrs. G’s is expected to be a low-generating traffic/parking type use,” Olivo said, explaining that altering the parking lot could create other, potentially more-serious traffic problems.   

 “Based on the characteristics of the property and the geometry of what we’re working with here in trying to accommodate these different systems of roadways, as I explained at the first hearing, we feel, given the operation of Mrs. G’s, the low turnover and the low parking demand expected for this type of use, that the dead-end parking with the notch-outs as we’ve shown will allow for a vehicle to make a K-turn effectively…”

As part of the proposed plan, a “connector road” would be built behind the new buildings both to provide access to the new shopping center and to give motorists traveling north on Route 1 the ability to turn left (westbound) or right (eastbound) onto Bakers Basin Road. Another new access road running parallel to Route 1, behind the existing Lawrence Ford Lincoln Mercury auto dealership, would link that new “connector road” with Litho Road.

The existing jughandle onto Bakers Basin Road from Route 1 North – at which left turns to go westbound were outlawed a few years ago – would be removed entirely. Bakers Basin Road, itself, would be widened into three westbound lanes and two eastbound lanes between Route 1 and the Delaware and Raritan Canal to allow vehicles to safely enter/exit the new shopping center, improve overall traffic flow in the area and increase the cuing capacity of vehicles waiting for a red light.

The plan is before the zoning board because a number of conditional use and bulk variances are needed with regard to the presence of gasoline and diesel pumps at the Wawa, the number of buildings to be built, the amount of parking that would be available, the types of signs the businesses would like to erect, the luminosity levels of some lights that would be on at night, how the sidewalks would be laid out, what types of trees would be used for landscaping, and other design elements.

Testimony will resume at the next zoning board meeting at 7 p.m. on Sept. 19.

 

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L J August 21, 2012 at 01:37 PM
I am stuck in traffic everyday at Route 1 North near Bakers Basin Road. Its obvious that the new plan will get more cars. In the redevelopment, i feel they should add one more lane on Route 1 North else i guess this would be disastrous.
L J August 21, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Also wanted to comment that Patch is doing a big service by bringing to me daily news of my town. News which matter to me and news which affect me. Kudos to Michael Ratcliffe and everyone at Patch.
Michele Sullivan August 21, 2012 at 02:24 PM
I am interested to find out how the traffic on route 1 south will be impacted. The current traffic pattern forces motorists using the southbound jughandle (in front of howard johnson) to turn left across three lanes to continue across route 1 onto bakers basin road. The proposed complex with a wawa and mcdonalds will certainly encourage many more vehicles to utilize the jughandle and will create even more backup on route 1. This intersection is already congested with vehicles exiting I295 to access express route 1. Recall the fatal crash a few years back (November 2005) whereby a garbage truck crushed a car stopped in the line of traffic waiting for the traffic signal.
Logic August 21, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Development is a net benefit for a community regardless of traffic. This town needs new businesses which generate increased tax revenue. Cosmetically it will improve the appearance of our town - people are sick of looking at abandoned buildings. Who cares if it will increase traffic, so your travels take a minute longer? Please people don't be so self-centered and think about whats good for the community as a whole.
Michele Sullivan August 21, 2012 at 05:09 PM
I'm not sure how my comment can be viewed as self centered. Nor do I think my comment suggested I was against the redevelopment of the property. I merely expressed concern about the impact this will have to the southbound side of route 1, most importantly the safety of those who travel through the intersection. The town recently installed the photo cameras at this intersection as it was deemed one of the most dangerous intersections in Lawrence. Surely the community will not benefit from increased traffic accidents. The fact of the matter remains that this complex will have an impact to both northbound and southbound route 1, yet none of the articles mention improvements to the southbound jug handle. I hope that the zoning board is taking that into consideration.
John Kelly August 21, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Has anyone given renewed thought to adding a Bakers Basin/Franlin Corner Road overpass? It has worked wonders farther north at Province Line, Meadow and Alexander roads.
pridesouthof95 August 22, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Logic you are right! Ms. Sullivan I will state that I'm not calling you self centered, but this is the type of talk that the self centered pray on. The people of this town need to understand that its called business Route 1 for a reason.... heres a hint....... BUSINESS!!! This is the new Lawrence NOT Maidenhead!!!
Earl August 26, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Thank you John Kelly for realizing, too, that an overpass would solve so many problems. This Lawrence Commons sounds like a great idea and a welcome addition to the town, but I don't understand how this development is being discussed without also addressing the need for putting an overpass there. Is building Lawrence Commons just a way to distract everyone from the fact that an overpass is needed here? Rumor has it that Mrs G's has opposed an overpass for years because it would cut into some of their property and because they delight in the fact that when cars are backed up at that light they have no other alternative but to look to their right and see Mrs. G's business.
John Monsport August 27, 2012 at 08:02 PM
I love how the lawyer for the Shell station has all these "concerned" questions about trees and ground water runoff. I guess the prospect of having to compete with Wawa gas means he'll have to invest in his own property and lower his gas price. Business isn't fair, its business.

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