MONTVILLE, NJ – The second hearing by the zoning board on the Wine Outlet application, which would be built on Changebridge Road across from the Bader Farm Store, was held on Nov. 6.

H.G. Martin would like to divide 289 Changebridge Rd., currently zoned industrial, leaving part of it as Level One Construction company, and using the remaining 5,800 square feet for its fourth Wine Outlet store. The stores sell all types of spirits but specialize in wine, and are open seven days a week. Neighbors who came to the first meeting opposed the potential increased traffic, especially since the store would have weekend hours. They also felt that there was no need for a liquor store in that area of town, whereas Martin’s planner felt it was an attractive “introduction” into the commercial area of Pine Brook.

Attorney Justin Marchetta introduced the changes to the application now that it has been vetted by the township’s design review committee.

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He said the applicant is seeking variances for overall site improvements to an old industrial building with multiple loading docks with outdoor storage areas. Level One Construction sought out a tenant for the building to create an “overall enhancement to the building and property, and bolster economic development in the community.”

Marchetta said site plan approval is sought, with use and expansion of the building, and overall site improvements. The lot would have a new and expanded parking lot layout, site lighting, fencing, landscaping, and signage, he said.

“We received considerable comments from the board and the public regarding various aspects of the site plan, building architecture and signage, and we took all comments to heart,” Marchetta said.

The engineers and architects made changes to the plans, he said, including:

  • Level One’s outdoor storage areas were reduced
  • New site curbing and a sidewalk along Changebridge
  • Enhanced landscaping and more trees along the front
  • Reconfiguring the parking spaces near the building and a sidewalk for pedestrian safety
  • Modifications to the architectural design of the building
  • Modifications to the building-mounted signage (including eliminating the barrel and significantly reducing the wall sign size and proposing goose-neck lighting for the signs)
  • Replacing chain-link fencing with solid “privacy” fencing
  • Modifications to the “monument” sign out front
  • Reducing impervious coverage to 55% (which eliminates a variance sought)

The application is before the zoning board not only because the building is located in an industrial zone and Martin wants to use part of the building for retail use, but also due to the signage that’s proposed, and where the parking would be.

Witnesses for Martin said the lighting had been relocated off the right of way, the roofline of the building is different now, the number of colors on the signage has been reduced to four, the street number is now on the sign, and the signage size has been reduced to 66 sq. feet.

“Why don’t you reduce the signage size to 60 sq. feet so the number of variances can be further reduced?” asked Zoning Board Chair James Marinello. “Make it 60. If you can reduce the number of variances, it’s going to make it easier for the township to ‘wrap their heads’ around [the application].”

As far as the traffic study, Marinello also questioned the validity of the traffic study, and said he wanted more information about a spike at holiday shopping time, for example, Oct. 25 to Jan. 15. Professional Engineer Corey Chase of Dynamic Traffic said he would have more information at the next meeting.

Planner Charles Heydt said that the site is a particularly suitable location for the application and the parking lot can accommodate the use. Just north of the site is a retail zone, and so there’s no existing impairment in introducing a retail use at this site, Heydt said.

“There is a mix of uses along Changebridge all in a quarter mile stretch,” Heydt said. “Across the street is a retail use in the residential zone.”

Marinello said he is a fan of “adaptive use,” i.e., adapting the building to insert retail with the industrial, “but I just don’t see how this supports the cross-marketing of other retail uses and the farm market across the street. I’m not saying my mind is made up, but I need some testimony.”

Neighbor Jean Bader who owns the farm stand across the street came to the microphone to say that trucks have problems maneuvering in the parking lot currently, and she is worried about them maneuvering if they have to make deliveries more often to the liquor store. Wine Outlet General Manager Thomas Alviene testified at the prior meeting that deliveries would occur Tuesday through Friday four times a day with box trucks, but contradicted himself and said deliveries would come every day.

Bader also wanted to know who would monitor the use of the tasting machine. Alviene said at the prior meeting that there is a wine sampling machine in all stores and the company would like to install one in the Montville store as well.

“We don’t necessarily do event planning [i.e., wine tastings], but we have an automated machine and you put kind of a credit card in and it dispenses up to four ounces per day on that card,” he explained at that meeting. “Legally that’s what we’re allowed to give someone as a sample. It dispenses half an ounce of wine per taste.”

The next meeting regarding this application will be held on Jan. 16, 2020 although that could change. Please check http://www.montvillenj.org/AgendaCenter.

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