A new CVS is being proposed for a residential zone on the corner of Finderne and Union avenues—but for zoning board members, the biggest concerns were for proposed signs on the property.
The property is currently in a residential zone, rather than commercial, so representatives spoke before the zoning board Jan. 31 with a request for a variance to build the store and pharmacy.
“The site in question is undeveloped currently,” said David Caruso, engineer for the applicant.
The proposed development, Caruso said, is 14,600 square feet, with a total of 67 parking spaces, as well as an access drive with a dual drive-thru for the pharmacy at the building.
The store will maintain regular hours—according to Gary Lorio, director of real estate for CVS Pharmacy—as it remains open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, and has its own pharmacy as well.
“And the drive-thru will act as a convenience for shoppers, whether it be a rainy day or someone who is sick,” he said.
Lorio said there will normally be about eight to 12 employees in any one shift, and the lighting will be turned off about 45 minutes after the close of the store to allow for employees to close up.
“We picked this location because we feel this is the best place, and other commercial opportunities don’t fit our needs,” he said. “Smaller sites are difficult for us to operate in.”
Robert Oelenschlager, of National Sign Services, said there will be a few signs, namely the name identification letters on the building, another graphics banner in the interior vestibule, an ancillary sign at the drive-thru for the pharmacy and another with electronic messages scrolling across.
The electronic sign, Oelenschlager said, will have changing messages, allowing CVS to give out information to customers, as well as provide news about the community.
“Some of that is Medicare information, or about giving flu shots or things of that nature,” he said. “But not only that, while we do advertise our products, we also offer it to the town to use for any important information they want to get on there.”
“We have also used these for Amber Alerts and others,” he added.
Zoning board member Donald Sweeney questioned whether the sign inside the vestibule is really necessary if it won’t be seen from the road anyway. The applicant was looking for a variance for the amount of signage to be allowed, citing that it wanted more than was normally allowed by ordinance.
Sweeney questioned why this one was necessary.
“If you can’t see it, let’s get rid of it,” he said. “Why is it needed, except to add to the amount of signage.”
Oelenschlager said he would be happy to remove it.
As for the sign with the electronic messages, Oelenschlager said the message usually changes every three to five minutes.
“Usually the board puts some kind of restriction on it,” he said. “We would ask that at the very least it changes every 15 minutes. But there is no flashing, no scrolling, no blinking and no animation.”
And once the store closes and the lights shut off, Oelenschlager said, the signs shut down as well.
Township planner Scarlett Doyle questioned the need for this kind of sign, citing that it could be distracting to drivers.
“The message board concept is important, but we have an ordinance for no flashing signs,” she said. “In Bound Brook, it distracts driving, so why should everyone in town have a sign like that?”
“I think every application should be considered on its own merit,” Oelenschlager responded. “Just because I get one doesn’t mean someone else should.”
Board attorney Lawrence Vastola questioned how the electronic sign could fit in with the rest of the area, which is zoned as a residential neighborhood.
“You have this one property developing in a residential zone, but how can you justify a sign of that size in this zone?” he asked.
Oelenschlager said that if the board would allow the applicant to have the signs, perhaps they could reduce the sizes to be more compliant.
In addition to the questions on the sign, the board questioned a part of the application concerning access into the parking lot.
Currently, Caruso said, the applicant has proposed two unrestricted curb cuts instead of the requirement to have only right turns made out of the property onto Union. He said the New Jersey Department of Transportation has mandated that there should be no left turns onto Union Avenue.
“But the county is discussing that to see if we can reverse the decision since there are four lanes of traffic where the curb lanes are,” he said. “As of right now, they are still undecided about which curb cut will be unrestricted.”
Sweeney said he thinks the idea of making a left turn onto Union Avenue is crazy.
“That’s insane, have you been at that intersection?” he asked.
Caruso said he traveled to the site and parked at the TD Bank that is next to the proposed property.
“I then made a left turn back out onto Union Avenue,” he said. “A lot of it has to do with stacking and the light cycle, but everything is still up in the air.”
Caruso said there are about 100 feet from the light at the intersection to the entrance in to the bank, but there would be about 300 feet before the CVS.
Lorio said the access is very important for the business because of the need for proper circulation.
“We need to make sure it is safe,” he said. “But all our stores on intersections are on heavy streets with full in and full out access.”
A final decision has not been made yet, Caruso said, but they have considered what would happen if the DOT decision is upheld.
“I believe it would be a hard sell for the applicant to go forward if the county does not allow the business to have the unrestricted curb,” he said.
Still, the applicant opted to move forward with the application.
Because all testimony was not heard during the Jan. 31 meeting, the application has been continued to March 20.