During three more hours of testimony concerning the proposed redevelopment of the Mrs. G TV and Appliances property and adjacent vacant lots along Route 1 (Brunswick Pike) at Bakers Basin Road, members of the Lawrence Township Zoning Board of Adjustment Wednesday night (Oct. 10) heard details about the combined convenience store/gas station that Wawa wants to build on the site, as well as parking and traffic issues related to the overall redevelopment project.
No action was taken, and testimony is expected continue during a special meeting to be held on Oct. 29.
As part of the proposal, existing buildings on the properties – the current Mrs. G showroom, a vacant business, an abandoned diner, and three unoccupied homes – would be demolished. Constructed in their place would be five stand-alone buildings that would house the Wawa, a new Mrs. G. store, a McDonald’s restaurant, a TD Bank branch, and a yet-to-be-determined tenant. The plan is before the zoning board because a number of conditional use and bulk variances are needed.
Michael Redel, employed by Wawa as a project engineer, offered testimony about and answered questions concerning the number of deliveries (both food and fuel) expected to be made to the store each week, the schedule for trash and recycling pickup, the number of workers expected to be employed there (45-60, many part-time), and the general layout and overall appearance of the store, parking lot, fuel pumps and the canopy over those pumps.
While Wawa stores with fuel pumps typically are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, this particular Wawa would be subject to Lawrence Township ordinances limiting its hours of operation.
Redel said there would be 12 gasoline fueling positions and four diesel fueling positions.
Charles Olivo, a professional engineer for developer 2012 Lawrenceville Associates, testified about a traffic impact study and parking analysis conducted for the project. He spoke about the current road layout, existing traffic conditions and jurisdictional issues, explaining that Route 1 is under the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s control, while Bakers Basin Road is a township roadway and Franklin Corner Road is the responsibility of Mercer County.
Olivo said as part of the redevelopment, the intersection itself would be redesigned and improved.
A “connector road” would be built behind the new buildings both to provide access to the new shopping center and to give motorists traveling north on Route 1 the ability to turn left (westbound) or right (eastbound) onto Bakers Basin Road. Another new access road running parallel to Route 1, behind the existing Lawrence Ford Lincoln Mercury auto dealership, would link that new “connector road” with Litho Road.
The existing jughandle onto Bakers Basin Road from Route 1 North would be removed entirely. Bakers Basin Road would be widened into three westbound lanes and two eastbound lanes between Route 1 and the Delaware and Raritan Canal to allow vehicles to safely enter/exit the new shopping center, improve overall traffic flow in the area and increase the queuing capacity of vehicles waiting for a red light.
To improve pedestrian safety in the area, new sidewalks will be installed along Route 1 and throughout the shopping center, and new safety features such as crosswalk countdown timers and ramps compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act will be put in at the intersection.
It was noted that all improvements to the area – including those involving the roadways and public rights of way – are being paid for by the developer and will not cost the township, county or state anything.