Raritan Zoning Board Approves Variances for Target Store and Shopping Center Revitalization

In a development for local commerce and infrastructure, the Raritan Zoning Board of Adjustment has approved a series of variances and resolutions critical to the revitalization of a shopping center, which will include the introduction of a Target retail store. The meeting, held on February 15th, 2024, addressed several issues including parking lot reconfiguration, stormwater management, signage, and landscaping.

A major focal point of the meeting was the application from RTL Flemington New Jersey LLC for the proposed Target store. The application involved a preliminary and final site plan with a D variance due to the signage and the conversion of the existing Burlington Coat Factory space into a Target. Robert Striker, a civil engineer, and Melissa Courtney, a planner, presented plans for property revitalization, discussing details like the parking layout, deliveries, and waste management. Notably, the proposed parking space count of 994 fell short of full compliance, sparking much debate among the board members.

The board also scrutinized the logistics of the Target store, from operating hours to internal features like grocery, CVS Pharmacy, and Starbucks. Striker highlighted the adjustments to the building footprint, while Courtney outlined the pedestrian access and improvements around the store’s frontage, including amenities to enhance the shopping experience. Concerns about the impact on adjacent businesses, such as Wawa, were addressed, with assurances that access lanes would remain unaffected.

Stormwater management was another issue, with the applicant proposing solutions such as porous pavement and a bioretention basin to mitigate the increase in impervious coverage. The board engaged in an exhaustive discussion on this topic, examining the methodology and data used in the stormwater management report and its implications for local flooding. The debate extended to the design of car corrals, the calculations of parking space numbers, and the installation of EV charging stations.

The board and the applicant also engaged in thorough discussions about ADA accessibility and the overall parking lot landscaping. Questions were raised about the adequacy of the proposed number of trees and their impact on visibility and efficiency. Rasul Damji, a board member, raised concerns about the condition of existing trees in the parking islands and the need for additional trees to be added to the satisfaction of the board’s landscape architectural expert.

Signage at the shopping center was a contested topic, with the board and applicant deliberating over the need for additional signage at primary driveways, the impact on traffic and safety, and the visibility of the store. The board’s traffic engineer contributed to the discussion, highlighting the benefits of clear driveway identification while also noting potential traffic flow issues.

The meeting also touched on facade plans and the necessity of coordinating signage for the shopping center. John Kataryniak, a principal planner, explained the types of relief required for the project, including a D3 variance for conditional use, C1 and C2 variances, and a D1 use variance for an accessory use not permitted by the sign ordinance. He referenced the Coventry Square case and discussed the importance of sign variances for wayfinding and the strategic placement of EV spaces.

A D1 variance request prompted discussion on enhancing safety through additional signage, with the applicant stressing the need for a sign at Church Street within the easement to provide clear identification for drivers. The board recognized the role of local knowledge and the necessity of County approval for the sign location.

After a review of the project, the board voted to grant the D3 variance, C1 and C2 variances, the D1 sign variance, exceptions, and preliminary and final site plan, contingent on specific conditions and waivers. The approval represents a step forward in modernizing the shopping center and integrating new retail options into the local economy.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Scott Sipos
Zoning Board Officials:
Cynthia Schaefer, Rasul Damji, Randy Block, Steve Farsiou, Lindsey Kuhl-Brengel, James Ferraro, Laurette Kratina, Donna Drewes, James Miller, Jonathan Drill (Board Attorney), Jeffrey Vaccarella (Township Planner), Rakesh Darji (Township & Temporary Engineer), Mark Kataryniak (Temporary Board Engineer), John Morgan Thomas (Township & Board Landscape Architect), Jessica Caldwell (Board Planner), Jay Troutman (Board Traffic Consultant), Jackie Klapp (Board Stenographer)

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