Friday, April 19, 2024

Strip Mall or Convenience Store? Among Questions for the March Planning Meeting in Green

Plans showing six proposed tenants, including the existing Brix liquor store on Decker Pond Road, (Route 517), in Sussex County. Photo by M. Gardiner, 02/2024.

“Come back next month.”

That’s what dozens of assembled residents were told at the recent meeting of the Green Township Land Use Board (LUB), where on Thursday, February 8, they gathered for scheduled discussion of a commercial development.

The property in question was 57 Decker Pond Road. That’s where the developer, SAKS Properties LLC, has applied to the LUB for a subdivision to construct a new 9,558 square foot commercial building. Currently, the Brix liquor store operates at that location.

The board announced at the meeting that the matter was to be carried over into next month’s meeting after their representative said that a conflict of interest was discovered with the planning consultant whose report was part of the SAKS application.

Board attorney David Brady announced that the SAKS application will carry over to the March meeting, where the board will discuss whether or not the proposed commercial development meets the definition of either a “strip mall” or “convenience store.”

However, Brady also noted that public comment on the project usually occurs procedurally near the end of the application process.

According to the SAKS application documents obtained under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) by the Ridge View Echo, the existing site would be subdivided into two lots, with the existing Brix liquor store remaining on one and a new commercial building on the other lot. 

The proposed 1,499 square foot liquor store/convenience store would comprise a total of six tenant spaces including the existing liquor store. 

Plans include 48 parking spaces for the new commercial space along with two electric vehicle charging stations. Additionally, the new development would redesign the entrance on Decker Pond Road – the existing driveway would be closed, and a new access driveway would be constructed to facilitate traffic in and out of the space.

The existing lot encompasses an area of 163,679 square feet in total. The proposed subdivided lot would be 82,069 square feet in size, or a lot area of approximately 1.8 acres. According to plans submitted this month to the LUB, the proposed building on that subdivided lot would be a nearly 10,000 square foot commercial building. 

Neighbors to the property include a community center owned by the Tranquility United Methodist Church and private homes on Kennedy and Decker Pond Roads. 

Some neighbors are concerned about the increased activity the proposed project will draw into the area. Signs reading “No Strip Mall Next Door” were displayed on the property of a neighboring Decker Pond Road resident on Thursday before the LUB meeting.

Site plans for the proposed commercial space include a proposed six-foot privacy fence along the property’s western border with the church and homeowner. 

Residents who attended the February LUB meeting shared concerns over the proposed development and many expressed disappointment when the board announced the application would be carried over until next month’s meeting.

The decision to push the application to next month’s meeting was announced within 15 minutes of the start of the meeting and the crowd of residents dissipated shortly thereafter. 

Green Township LUB next meets on March 14 at 7 p.m. at the municipal building on Kennedy Road.

Morgan Gardiner
Morgan Gardiner, Contributing Writer

Morgan Gardiner is a journalist and broadcaster based in Northwest New Jersey. Born and raised in Warren County, Gardiner graduated from McGill University and was previously an on-air newscaster, reporter and producer for WRNJ-AM. When not chasing down a news story, Gardiner fills his time with books, family, friends and traveling.