ROXBURY, NJ – Developers’ plans to convert the former Ledgewood Mall into a new shopping center received a final thumbs-up from Roxbury officials on Feb. 6.

Meeting at Roxbury Town Hall, the township Planning Board unanimously approved an amended application for the new Shops at Ledgewood Commons. The board previously approved the project, but had to revisit the application after Walmart decided it was going to raze its current store on the site and replace it with a 24-hour “supercenter” with a drive-up grocery pick-up area.

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The board wrestled with several last-minute matters before voting to approve the application, the main one being Walmart’s desire to unload tractor-trailers at all hours.

At the board's request, the developers said no tractor-trailers would be arriving or departing the new store between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., but they said Walmart expected to be able to unload the trucks at any time.

Members of the board, particularly Roxbury Councilmember Jim Rilee, expressed concern about that idea, fearing that noise from the unloading would bother nearby residents.

Greg DeBona, an architect for the project, insisted the unloading would not be noisy. He said the trucks would be backed up all the way to the loading dock portals, essentially becoming “appendages” of the Walmart building. He also said the workers would be using quiet equipment to remove the merchandise and noted the unloading of trucks at the current Walmart does not draw any noise complaints.

Impasse Avoided

The board was not convinced. “Once we let Pandora out of the box, we can’t put it back in,” said Rilee, who said he believed the developers previously testified that no tractor-trailer unloading would take place between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

“We’re not trying to stifle the operations,” said Planning Board Chair Charles Bautz.

The matter threatened – for a while - to stymie the project approval. But Bruce Katona, a senior development manager for Advance Realty – one of the partners in the project – came forward and said Walmart agreed to refrain from trailer unloading during the hours in question.

Katona said he didn’t know when the current Walmart’s razing would begin or when other site work would take place. He said he is hoping the state Department of Transportation will approve before April the developers’ plan to add a left-hand turning lane into the mall for westbound traffic on Route 10.

Katona also told the board the developers are not ready to announce any further new tenants. The Marshall’s, Ashley Furniture, Barnes & Noble and Men’s Warehouse are expected to remain when the site becomes the Shops at Ledgewood Commons. Also expected to set-up stores there are Five Below, Ulta Beauty, DSW, 24-Hour Fitness and Starbucks.

The project is not expected to be finished before 2020.

 

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