MILLSTONE – The Millstone Township Zoning Board of Adjustment has approved the proposed expansion of a business that has operated in the community for many years. The board set a condition that the larger building may only be constructed if the business has to relocate from its present site.
During a meeting on Feb. 27, board members approved an application from Charles Noreika, a co-owner of Noreika Sales, to construct a commercial/residential building and eight homes at Paint Island Springs and Millstone roads. Attorney Vincent Halleran presented the application.
Noreika Sales, 370 Millstone Road, which sells and services lawn and garden equipment, has been in operation since the late 1940s. The business began when there were no zoning regulations in Millstone Township and is in a zone which is now designated for residential uses. The 2,900-square-foot building is used for retail sales and service operations.
The plan for the new project calls for a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor of a new commercial building, eight single-family homes and one storm water management lot on property at Paint Island Springs and Millstone roads. The proposed lots will be combined with an existing home for a total of 11 lots on a 30-acre parcel.
The proposed new building is intended to replace the existing Noreika Sales location, which is scheduled to be demolished by Monmouth County as part of a project to construct a traffic roundabout at the meeting point of Stagecoach Road (Route 524), Millstone Road and Paint Island Springs Road.
Following revisions by the applicant, the new building that will include Noreika Sales and the apartment will be 3,600 square feet. A 1,900-square-foot addition to an existing 4,900-square-foot barn was also proposed.
The plan was met with with opposition from residents who said they believed the expansion of the business in a residential zone would have a negative impact on the surrounding area.
“This truly impacts our quality of life and our house value, if we could even sell the house should this go in,” resident Jeff Torno said. “It’s huge. I’m going to ask you to stay consistent with our master plan and our zoning plan. That is how this town stayed an oasis surrounded by overdevelopment.
“These other towns have spot zoning, things you don’t want here. Kinks in the armor create that and this is a step in that direction. I’m asking you [the board] to keep it residential and to vote no to the variances. This is too big an operation for a residential building lot,” Torno said.
Charles Noreika and his brother, Robert, testified they are seeking to expand their business because the current building is jammed. They said moving the business would require additional space.
Robert Noreika said it would not be profitable to construct a building that is the same size as the current structure.
Charles Noreika said he did not want to expand the business and was satisfied with the current building, but he said the new building is needed because the county is planning to demolish the current building to construct the roundabout.
As board members discussed whether to approve or deny the application, the panel’s attorney, Gregory Vella, noted that the project was only being sought by the Noreikas because of the county’s plan to construct the roundabout. Vella said no physical work has been performed on the roundabout.
Because it is possible the roundabout project will not take place and Noreika Sales will not be forced to relocate, Vella suggested that the board members approve the application on the condition that the roundabout is constructed.
“Wouldn’t it be prudent if you make a condition of approval that if the county doesn’t take the (Noreika Sales) property and doesn’t build the roundabout, the site plan is not approved?” Vella asked board members. “I don’t think the applicant really wants to do this and spend all this money.
“If they don’t really want to do this, then they shouldn’t get site plan approval for it if the county doesn’t step up and do what they allege to do. And if the county doesn’t do what they allege to do, then (the Noreikas) don’t lose the residence, they don’t lose their building, they don’t spend all this money building something that will always be there,” Vella said.
Following a discussion, the board members approved the application with the condition that the new building and the eight homes will only be permitted to be constructed if the roundabout is built and if Noreika Sales is forced to relocate. If the roundabout is not constructed, the new building and the eight homes will not be permitted to be built.