GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — A Planning Board meeting Thursday night about final approval of a new ShopRite boiled down to a disagreement over the size of a fence.
Township code mandates a 6-foot fence, but Village Super Market, the company behind the proposed grocery store at 501 E. Jimmie Leeds Road, said it is willing to build an 8-foot fence to satisfy neighbors.
Residents who live closest to the proposed ShopRite wanted a fence as tall as they could convince the developer to build to block out noise, smell, lights and people. They loved the fence behind the current ShopRite at 401 S. Pitney Road and estimated it was anywhere between 12 and 15 feet high. They seemed like they were ready to accept a 10-foot-high fence.
“If you were living in my house, you would approve a higher fence,” said Susan Markman, 60, who wanted at least a 10-foot fence.
Despite the concerns from residents, Village Super Market decided to hold firm to the 8-foot fence.
At the conclusion of a meeting that lasted more than two hours, the board gave preliminary and final major site plan approval to the Village Super Market project by a unanimous vote of 8-0.
The new ShopRite will be a larger — 8,676 square feet — more efficient, state-of-the-art supermarket, said Damien Del Duca, attorney for Village Super Market. Size, access and parking are all challenges for the existing ShopRite on South Pitney Road.
Under the township code, the number of parking spaces required are 409, but Jay Sciullo, the developer’s engineer, said 511 spaces are in the plan for the new grocery store.
There are two pads, or sites for smaller, detached businesses, in front of the supermarket, but there are no tenants at this time, Del Duca said.
“There will be a new traffic signal at the entrance. We already achieved (Atlantic) County approval,” said Del Duca, who added a meeting was already held with the neighbors. “Neighbors want a fence on the north and east side. We are willing to install a vinyl fence on the developer’s side of the trees.”
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John Agner, 65, said he understands that the township wants the ratable of a new supermarket, but the neighbors moved into a wooded area.
The consensus of the neighbors is they want a durable, tall, solid and wooden fence, Agner said.
“We don’t want to see any lights, especially at night,” Agner said.
Even though the existing ShopRite in the township does not operate 24 hours a day, Agner asked the Planning Board to consider a restriction on operating hours for the new ShopRite, so it could not be open from midnight to 6 a.m.
“One of the pads could be a Planet Fitness,” said Agner, who was concerned about a 24-hour business opening on one of the pads. “It’s a very residential neighborhood.”
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Anthony Coppola, who is a member of the Planning Board and the Township Council, said the land for the proposed supermarket was rezoned to be a commercial property in the 1990s.
“We desperately need a new grocery store,” Coppola said after the meeting.
One of the residents asked Village Super Market representatives whether they could build the fence prior to construction. Sciullo said they would because the wall protects the developer also.
Coppola suggested that after the fence was built, additional trees could be added to enhance buffering.
“I’m happy to fill in gaps,” Del Duca said.