HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — The Zoning Board of Adjustment granted a use variance for the construction of a Dollar General retail store at its meeting Monday, Sept. 25.
The variance was needed because the area is zoned residential and retail stores are not a permitted use at the site located on Route 40 between the Shore Health Park and the Sandpiper Condominium complex.
Developer's attorney Duncan Prime said his client, Mays Landing DG LLC, plans to use 2.81 acres of a 35-acre parcel. If they are successful in obtaining site plan approval at a later date, the 2.81 acres will be subdivided from the rest of the property with the remaining 32.19 acres remaining in the hands of the current owner.
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Goodlettsville, Tennesse-based Dollar General has said it wants to add 1,000 new stores this year, to add to its existing inventory of 12,500 stores in 43 states. A Dollar General opened in July on New Road in Pleasantville, a store is under construction in Somers Point, two stores have been conditionally approved for Egg Harbor Township and another has been approved in Absecon.
The main points of contention between Hamilton board members and the developer’s representatives were traffic flow on the site and access and ingress off the highway.
Board member Robert Kahrmann expressed concern about the ability of fire vehicles to access the building.
“The site meets all fire lane and access requirements,” said the developer’s engineer, Daniel Dougherty. He added the developer is proposing 47 parking spots, far more than the developmental ordinance requires.
Dollar General’s traffic engineer, Justin Taylor, attempted to allay board members’ concerns about trucks having to back up through the parking area while making deliveries to the rear of the store.
“There will only be one, sometimes two deliveries a week,” he said. He also addressed concerns by Kahrmann about trash trucks accessing the Dumpster at the rear of the property. “I believe the truck will have enough room to turn around,” he said.
“The 36 foot-wide aisle will make it possible,” Dougherty said.
Board member William Christman asked why the applicant chose the site when most shopping in the township is confined to four other areas.
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“This is designed to be a convenience store, not a destination site” said the applicant’s planner, Tiffany Cuviello. “Traveling to the major shopping area when only one or two items are needed is not convenient and only adds more traffic to that area. This site and the proposed use will work well together. The positives greatly outweigh the detriments.”
Township Planner Robert Watkins was supportive of the project.
“It is a well-suited use for this area,” he said.
“There is no place to shop for these types of items anywhere west of Acme on Route 40 in the township,” board Chairwoman Elaine Valentino said. “It will be a convenience for people in that area. Other potential uses for that site could be more detrimental.”
Board members voted 6-0 to grant the use variance. It is only the first step in the process in which the developer will need to obtain subdivision approval as well as preliminary and final site plan approvals.
The board’s professionals agreed to meet with the developer’s representatives to iron out concerns that the members expressed. They include a possible redesign of the traffic pattern, the flexibility to move the property lines, clarification of the drainage plan and an opportunity to create cross-easements with the Shore Health Park.