SOUTH PLANFIELD, NJ – The South Plainfield Planning Board, at its Oct. 13 meeting, unanimously approved an application granting Saker ShopRites, Inc. the green light to construct a World Class ShopRite in the Golden Acres Shopping Center. The property, which is owned by Michael Polimeni, will feature a new state-of-the-art store on the footprint of the former Pathmark. As of press time, the store is expected to open in 2016.

The South Plainfield ShopRite will initially employee between 275 and 300 people and will be open to customers from 6 a.m. to midnight. “Not only is [Shop Rite] going to bring convenience to our town but it is going to bring in more jobs,” said Joe Wolak, a member of the Planning Board and candidate for Borough Council. “I think this is a great opportunity.”

Saker currently operates 29 supermarkets in central and southern New Jersey, including the Piscataway and Woodbridge stores. For the South Plainfield Shop Rite, Saker will convert the existing building and erect a 26,676 square foot addition, however, 12,682 square feet of existing retail space will be demolished for additional parking. The front façade and columns will be constructed from brick and synthetic stucco will be used on the upper portions. A new vestibule with a glass canopy running along the outside of the building will also be erected.

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Additionally, the building, at its highest point, will be 35-feet – a foot and a half lower than originally planned. the height now falls within the borough code and does not require Saker to seek a variance. “We were willing and able to make any changes recommended,” Steven Filippone, a professional engineer and planner with Engineering Design Associates, P.A., told the board.

Saker will also provide landscaping and new lighting throughout the parking lot along with adequate handicapped parking, stripped crosswalks for customer safety, proper signage and slopes. Also, the lot itself will be reconfigured and properly aligned for safe circulation. The Oak Tree Road entrance/exit will be modified while the exit onto Park Avenue will remain, as set forth by the county, a right-turn only.

No residents opposed the ShopRite during Tuesday night’s meeting, however, Cyndee Martin, owner of GloPack Corporation, did express a few concerns. Located on Case Drive, GloPak manufacturers linear low density plastic bags, trashcan liners, and sheeting and has 3,500 solar panels on its 3-acre site.

Martin said she was concerned the new ShopRite may affect the lighting on her property because it will stand taller than the current structure. She also wanted to know who was responsible for the fence that runs along the shopping center's back access road, particularly because it risks being damaged by large delivery trucks. Additionally, she said that Case Drive narrows and that during snowstorms plows do not clean the road fully, making it narrower and perhaps more difficult for trucks to get through. 

According to Filippone, Saker plans to replace the current fence running separating the two properties and will be charged with its maintenance. Additionally, while the proposal calls for new, compliant lighting behind the Shop Rite only, Filippone said the company will use light meters to determine if additional lighting needs to be added at the opposite end of the shopping center near Big Lots. Also, Mayor Matt Anesh assured Martin he would address her plow concerns with the borough’s Department of Public Works.

Rumors that a ShopRite might move into the site vacated by Pathmark back in 2010 have been circulating around South Plainfield for some time and, according to Derryck White, president of the Borough Council and head of the Economic Development Committee, the approval was a ‘collaborative effort.’

"This was a collaborative effort with one goal in mind - the goal of benefiting our community," said White. "Michael Polimeni, the owner of the property, was looking for a community-minded enterprise, ShopRite was looking for a community where they could provide quality goods and a world class customer experience, and we, as a governing body were looking to be a strategic partner in the process."

White added, "We are excited to welcome come ShopRite to our community and look forward to seeing this project to fruition with our new strategy partners.”

Tuesday's night's approval by the planning board spread like wildfire on social media minutes after the meeting ending and, as of press time, the announcement on the Borough of South Plainfield Facebook page had been shared 66 times and garnered close to 185 ‘likes’ along with dozens of supportive comments.

“Yay! Will be happy to bring my business back to [South Plainfield] from Piscataway,” posted Marian Greenfield while Mary Wilson posted “Best news I heard today! No more dealing with the parking lot of the Shoprite in Piscataway!”

Over on Mayor Anesh’s Facebook page Kevin Kean stated, “It’ll be great not having to drive to Piscataway” and Caryn Diamond Skolnick stated, “Very exciting news! A great asset to upgrading that shopping center and to South Plainfield!”