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Expert Planner Backs ShopRite Application; Public Comment, Board Vote Scheduled

Township's planner expressed no major opposition to application that would raze former A&P site and construct a new 65,000-square-foot supermarket in Stop & Shop's backyard

Testimony by the Wyckoff Planning Board's expert planner Monday night largely supported the application to develop of a 65,000-square-foot supermarket in the footprint of the former A&P shopping center off Greenwood Avenue. 

At a special planning board meeting in , provided testimony arguing that land use documentation — including Wyckoff re-examination reports of 2005 and 2010 and the township's — did not preclude, or did in fact support, redevelopment of the A&P site.

He dismissed concern over a variance requested by the applicant regarding a 20-foot deficiency in a buffer strip where the proposed building borders property, and spoke only briefly about "observation, criticism and concern" over the "undue length" of the parking lot. 

Kauker said there was adequate parking in the proposed plan and that the furthest spaces, which he called a "hike," would likely only be used as employee parking or during a peak holiday situation.

"Would your testimony be that the variances requested... could, if this board wanted, be granted without any substantial deviation from the master zoning plan or the intent of the master zoning plan?" asked Board Attorney .

"I believe they can," Kauker said. 

The objectors, representing and Munico Associates, called Jersey City-based planner Edward Kolling, who provided some testimony contrary to Kauker's opinion.

Kolling did not support Kauker's assessment that the 2005 and 2010 reexamination reports and current zoning ordinance support a case in which the planning board could feasibly approve the Inserra Supermarket application.

planner argued that there was a natural growth from market to supermarket but, "when it continues to grow to be superstores it's a matter of intensity and an amount of judgement has to be used by the board and the people interpreting the ordinance because I don't know where the line exactly is."

He contends the former A&P site was zoned for a food store in a shopping center and not a "superstore."

As attorneys traded examination and reexamination of the witnesses, testimony became snippy and Perconti stepped in to expedite the proceedings.

"Here's what happens as we wind down in this application, everybody's going to try to spar to get the last say... I'm not going to [allow it]," Perconti said. "We've been here two years, if [board members] can't get the issues before them then shame on them, but I'm pretty sure they have... we get it."

Public Comment, Board Vote Scheduled 

Perconti proceeded to lay out tracks leading to the conclusion of the Inserra application.

The board's next meeting is Sept. 12, at that meeting opposing attorney representing Munico Robert Inglima would cross examine traffic   of Boswell Engineering.  

Following that, a Sept. 24 special meeting has been scheduled for public comment.  

An Oct. 10 meeting would be used to tie up potential loose ends, but may not be needed, Perconti said.

Briefs and arguments would be supplied to the board no later than Oct. 22, the date of closing arguments. A decision would likely be handed down by the board on Nov. 26, Perconti said.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Joseph M. Gerace at Joseph.Gerace@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Stanley Goodman August 21, 2012 at 03:16 PM
It would be interesting to know if Mr. Kauker ever saw a development he didn't like, or at least, was not willing to support in testimony. I searched, but did not find any. Whether or not this project belongs here, there is a problem with our system's use and misuse of expert witnesses.
Gary Rabinowitz August 21, 2012 at 03:42 PM
@ Stanley Goodman: Each "expert testimony" is an audition for the next gig, and the next gig, and the next one and so on. Saying "no" to any development is a bad career move, especially when it's the Hekemian, CHCC, Toll Bros, Inserra, Galenkamps, McBrides, et al of the world that pay the bills and only hire, retain and pay for "yes" men. It's the elephant in the ZB's hearing room, the conflict of interest that dare not speak its name. Every so often a few ZB members will bark and howl about a conflict, and maybe we'll get a token recusal or tough show of action once in a 'Blue Moon' (pun intended). But the taxes will go up (never down, even though that's a supposed benefit of having these "big ratable payers" wreck the town with their gigantic monoliths), crime will creep up, green space will diminish, traffic will get downright paramusian in certain areas, and the cops and FD will be spread thinner and thinner.
Q August 21, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Well said, Mr. Rabinowitz. Just say NO to ShopRite.
Lorraine Sinnott August 21, 2012 at 07:08 PM
I'm a resident of Wyckoff and find it senseless to build a giant super grocery store right next to a giant super grocery store. Shop and Stop in Boulder Run is one of the many grocery stores I shop in, and I never find it to be crowded. With several additional grocery stores in the surrounding areas, I don't see the need to have another one. How much food do they expect to sell in their store, or is it their goal to put Stop and Shop out of business in Wyckoff. Then we'd have another empty building. And why can't some other type of store, or recreation facility, be built on the proposed location? It just doesn't make sense to me to have another another super-sized grocery store in a small town, when there are already so many grocery stores close by. Could this all just be politics??
NLTITAN August 22, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Lorraine - it's not croweded but because everyone is going to ShopRite in either Ramsey, Oakland or Fair Lawn. It (ShopRite) gives you more variety and it is CHEAPER than Stop and Shop. Also, why not have a choice of grocery stores - why just one????? We always had two in Wyckoff!! If they are not going to build a ShopRite bring back the MOTOR VEHICLE, LESLIE POOLS, ETC!!! They already wrecked Wyckoff with the low housing in the middle of town - what's wrong with another grocery store??? Who had a say in bringing in Marshall's? That was a great idea (seriously - no it wasn't!!!)
es August 22, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Planning boards are essentially just rubber stamps for builders. Go ahead, ask your questions and watch each one get dismissed with a wave of the hand. Unless there's pollution or dead bodies buried there, you haven't much of a chance. That said, it's just a Shoprite not a Walmart. Where will the "bad element" be travelling from to shop(lift) there? Of course, you'd probably prefer a Corrado's.
MER August 22, 2012 at 12:24 PM
I much prefer Shoprite and look forward to not have to go all the way to Oakland. The people that will be going to this new Shoprite will mostly be people from Wyckoff and surrounding towns. It won't really attract people from afar as they will be going to the Shoprites in Oakland, Ramsey, Wayne, etc. And I personally at least will be generating less 'traffic' when I travel to this one, rather than to Oakland. There have been two supermarkets at these locations for the longest time -- this whole drawn out process has just been a stall tactic by Stop and Shop against a competitor. People have noted that Stop and Shop is often not that busy and there is a reason for that; their prices tend to be higher and their selection is less. While traffic is a problem at certain times, the biggest contributor appears to me to be people driving their kids to or from school. I can always tell during my commute when schools have a week off based on significantly reduced traffic levels. Little Johnny or Janey can walk or ride their bike to school, it won't kill them. If you want to complain about the behavior of the board, then there is much to complain about Vista, which will be a huge resource sucking monster for the township and no benefit to anyone except the CHCC's coffers. Building a supermarket where there used to be a supermarket is however a no brainer.
myt August 22, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Let's finally pass this application and move on. There could not be a more appropriate site for this preexisting use built on a former oil & gas distributor(early 20th century brown fields). Let the free market settle which super market is better.
Ed August 27, 2012 at 09:33 AM
We have more than one: pizza parlor, chinese take-out, thai restaurant & coffee joint all within a block or two of each other, not to mention too many banks and realtors so why can't we have more than one supermarket to bring food home from? We even have three pharmacies! The space is already there so they won't be knocking down any trees and/or bushes (a la Stop & Shop). If one or the other can't cut the mustard, let it go the way of the Grand Union and then maybe, just maybe, the non-surviving store can be razed and some trees and bushes planted in its wake!
Matt September 04, 2012 at 01:12 AM
BOYCOTT Stop&Shop. I, too, prefer ShopRite over S&S. Frankly, I'm fed up (and have been for many months) with S&S and Boulder Run fighting to keep out the honest competition. I tore up my S&S card long ago and actually handed it in to the store manager when I told them I would no longer shop there due to their ongoing fighting. I feel that Wyckoff can not support 2 large supermarkets - one of them will be out of business within 3 years of ShopRite opening. I know which one it will be and so does S&S. BOYCOTT Stop&Shop.
LC September 04, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Lorraine...two observations. If S&S is so great, why on earth do you think it's never crowded? Also, I actually think the S&S store, when it eventually becomes vacant, will be the perfect venue for another large store that will do a lively business and not waste the enormous space S&S is taking up. I was not thrilled with Marshall's coming into Boulder Run, but the few times I've been there, it was busy and nobody looked like a degenerate or "person of bad element" as feared by many. It seems to be doing well; maybe a Bed Bath and Beyond or Pottery Barn would be great in the S&S building.
Gary Rabinowitz September 04, 2012 at 07:01 PM
@ Matt -- why take out your frustration on a Stop & Shop "store manager"? What kind of community do we aspire to if we subject folks just trying to do their job to such obnoxious behavior? Vent politely if you must, but please, handing a ripped up store card to a hard working employee makes you sound like a jerk. On your second point, I have to ask you (or any ShopRite supporter): would you accept Boulder Run, one of the largest (if not, THE largest) ratable payers in town, going into financial distress? Because that is a plausible scenario should Stop & Shop "go out of business," since strip malls depend on grocery stores as so called 'anchor tenants.' Further, are you willing to risk higher taxes, lower services, or both? If the answer to these questions are 'yes,' then go ahead and open Shop Rite up. I do not know the answer, personally, though I have some reasonable guesses. In other words, what's in the best interest of Wyckoff taxpayers (and not just grocery store customers looking to save 5-10% on their grocery bill). Realistically, that ship has sailed, and the process is too far along for these questions to be addressed at this point. I hope it works out and objectors like me turn out to be "chicken littles" (as someone called us http://wyckoff.patch.com/articles/letter-to-the-editor-chicken-littles). Stay tuned..... Cheers, GXR

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