Howell zoning board approves new warehouse at Route 9 site

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HOWELL – The Howell Zoning Board of Adjustment has approved an application that proposed the construction of a warehouse at 6601 Route 9 North, Howell, just north of Alexander Avenue.

At the same time, board members also granted preliminary and final major site plan approval for the application.

Representatives of the applicant, 6601 Highway 9 Associates LLC, appeared before the zoning board to seek a use variance for the warehouse because warehousing is not a permitted use in Howell’s Highway Development zone. The applicant also sought preliminary and final major site plan approval.

In conjunction with its plan to build a warehouse, the applicant also described a plan to convert an existing retail building at 6601 Route 9 north into a men’s clothing store.

The application proposed the construction of a one-story 14,052-square-foot warehouse to be used in conjunction with the clothing store, the extension of the asphalt parking lot, and the addition of parking spaces, a loading space, walkways and a detention/infiltration basin on the site.

Attorney Kenneth Pape presented the application during the board’s Feb. 25 meeting. He said the applicant currently operates Emporio, a men’s clothing store, in a nearby shopping center on Route 9 South. He said Emporio is a tenant at that location.

Regarding the proposal before the zoning board, Pape said, “This is an application that has two prudent purposes. One is a repurposing of an existing retail building … that has not been used for some time. That 15,000-square-foot building will be entirely retail and requires no approval by this board. The second request is to introduce a (warehouse) behind the retail building. That (new) building would be for the storage of clothing.”

The board’s chairman, Wendell Nanson, sought to clarify the use of the proposed new building.

“This is a warehouse right? Warehouse, not storage? There will be shipping and receiving in that warehouse, correct?” Nanson asked.

Pape said the warehouse would receive clothing which would be sold at both retail locations.

Planner Christine Cofone, who testified on behalf of the applicant, said the property at 6601 Route 9 North is particularly suited for the proposed warehouse. She said there would be limited truck traffic at the location.

Cofone emphasized that the retail building is permitted at the location and that the variance was being requested so the applicant could construct the warehouse.

“I think we certainly rise to our particular suitability for the storage and for the two principal uses on one lot,” she said.

Pape said the applicant’s goal in purchasing the property at 6601 Route 9 North was to revitalize and repurpose the site. He said safety and health features such as a storm water management system, modern lighting and landscaping would be added to the property.

Pape called the warehouse a compatible use directly related to the retail business and said the location of the proposed building is “very logical.”

The board’s vice chairman, Michael Sanclimenti, said, “They are going to make some major improvements to the lot and also expand the business.”

Sanclimenti made a motion to grant the variance for the warehouse and to approve the site plan.

Board member Richard Mertens seconded the motion and said, “It’s a good application as far as I am concerned.”

On a roll call vote, board members Matthew Hughes III, Herbert Massa, Thomas O’Donnell, Jose Orozco, Sanclimenti, Mertens and Nanson voted to approve the application from 6601 Highway 9 Associates LLC.