The zoning board voted unanimously last month to approve a site plan for a new CVS at the corner of Union and Finderne avenues, saying they are comfortable that all traffic concerns will be fixed.
The application was originally before the board earlier this year, but board members were concerned about the additional traffic at the intersection, including the proposals for having right in and right out access on Union and full access to the building onto Finderne.
After working with the New Jersey Department of Transportation and the county, by creating a dedicated left turn lane on both sides of Union Avenue, as well as a signal and other changes that go along with the improvements.
With this proposal, the state, which has jurisdiction over Union Avenue, said it would agree to the proposal, as did the county, which has jurisdiction over Finderne Avenue and was refusing to allow for full access on that road until CVS promised that these improvements would be made.
But zoning members still said they were concerned about the traffic, and brought in assistant township engineer Tom Forsythe to answer questions on the topic.
“It is one of the most dangerous intersections in the county,” he said. “The improvements, although on the list of state things to do, are not on the list to be funded anytime soon.”
Forsythe said the improvements being promised by CVS will actually be good for the township and traveling public.
“The left hand turn lanes from the site onto Finderne have adequate site distance,” he said. “Information provided shows a sufficient gap in traffic to allow the turn to be made.”
Board members Donald Sweeney said he is particularly concerned about the access point from CVS onto Finderne Avenue.
“I used to live not too far from there, and I know what that intersection is like,” he said. “When I think about people leaving the proposed CVS and trying to make a left across two lanes of oncoming traffic and two lanes coming north, it sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.”
But Forsythe said the driver would have adequate sight distance to tell if another vehicle was coming, and there is a sufficient gap to allow someone to make the turn.
“It is a reasonable turn, and it is reasonable to expect that someone could make the turn,” he said.
Forsythe said the state’s main reason for wanting traffic improvements in that area was because of the cars stacked up at the traffic light, which limits visibility. That is probably why, he said, the state was looking for a dedicated left turn lane on Union Avenue.
Sweeney questioned whether there would be times when the stacking on Finderne Avenue would actually be worse than it was on Union.
Gary Dean, engineer with the applicant said he has seen about five instances, only during peak hours, when the queuing on Finderne Avenue extended to the proposed CVS driveway.
“All other times of the day, there was no issue,” he said.
“For the few times the stacking is up and past the driveway, people would just have to wait for the next open gap where they are able to make the turn,” Forsythe added.
Board member Evans Humenick questioned the purpose of adding another business in an area that the state has already deemed somewhat unsafe for drivers.
But Forsythe said that shouldn’t matter because it is the traffic improvements that will make the location safer anyway.
“The improvements to the intersection will improve the traffic flow for everyone, not just those going to CVS,” he said. “CVS is not considered a destination location all by itself, and there is not a shopping center where people are always going there anyway.”
Forsythe said, and the applicant agreed, that much of the traffic to the business is people stopping there on the way to work or home, or after finishing a doctor’s appointment when they need to fill a prescription.
“There is not really an increasing amount of traffic more than what is currently there,” he said. “The improvements to create an opposing left-hand turn lane will create a situation where the traffic is segregated and we won’t have the problems and crashes that we currently have.”
After these continued discussions, members of the board said they were satisfied with the explanations of both Forsythe and the applicant.
“I had very serious concerns about traffic, I had them until Mr. Forsythe joined us tonight,” Sweeney said. “I am satisfied that between the county officials, county planning board and subject experts, they have taken a look at the appropriate issues in terms of gaps and traffic flows and issues to ensure the proposed egress on Finderne is a safe one, as is the proposed egress on Union."