Business & Finance

Cranbury Township Committee Mulls Route 130 Zoning Changes

Credits: Charles W. Kim photo

CRANBURY, NJ – The Township Committee is considering a draft ordinance to define the types of businesses it would like to see on the Route 130 corridor.

During Monday night’s meeting, Township Planner Richard Preiss outlined the new, draft ordinance that specifies permitted businesses in both the Highway Commercial (HC) and General Commercial (GC) zones along the Route 130 corridor.

Preiss said the draft ordinance was the result of several meetings of the Zoning Committee at the request of Committeeman Glenn Johnson.

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“(Johnson) felt the Route 130 corridor, especially the commercial zone, was still too restrictive,” Preiss said. “As a means of stimulating and attracting development by broadening the range of permitted uses.”

Instead of broad categories, the draft ordinance specifically lists 51 types of permitted businesses, including various types of retail stores, restaurants, cafes, professional offices, banks, hotels, security businesses, health clubs and assisted-living facilities.

In addition, other permitted uses such as car washes, drive-through coffee houses and convenience stores with gasoline sales would be on a conditional basis, with each type of business meeting its own set of specific conditions.

Preiss said these conditional uses would only be allowed on the east side of Route 130, should the ordinance be adopted.

“Some of those uses, we felt, could create a potential problem (for adjacent residences) with noise and traffic,” Preiss said.

Tattoo parlors, tanning salons, fast-food restaurants, residential uses aside from assisted-living facilities, as well as general automotive mechanical or body maintenance are specifically prohibited from the zones, Preiss said.

Other businesses not on the list, or not “substantially similar” to those on the list would not be permitted in the revised zones, Preiss said.

 Preiss said that the town’s zoning officer would have some discretion in making that determination, which could be appealed by a developer to the full Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The ordinance also spells out the lot size and building requirements for the businesses.

“I think it is great we are looking at this corridor,” Committeeman David Cook said. “It has been an evolution and a process of controlled development throughout all of our (committee’s) history here.”

Cook said the plan would make the corridor “more interesting” for commercial development in a way that had not been done before.

Committeeman Jay Taylor asked to prohibit use of a go-go bar in the zone because, in the past, The Station Bar served that function years ago as The Stockyard.

Although technically in South Brunswick, Taylor said he would like to see that particular use prohibited in Cranbury.

Preiss said that it could be added as a prohibited use.

Totally in the other direction, Taylor then asked about restricting houses of worship on the corridor because they do not pay taxes to the municipality and such a development would lose ratable space in the zone.

“I think you have to be cautious,” Preiss said, explaining that houses of worship are viewed as “inherently beneficial” under the Municipal Land Use Law and are ranked at the top of that scale.

“It can be done, but you open yourself up to challenge,” Preiss said. “The burden of proof (in front of the zoning board) shifts from the applicant to the municipality (as to why it would be a bad use).”

Preiss said the committee could change any part of the draft ordinance before it is formally introduced and adopted.

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