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Potential Walgreens Site Still Awaiting Final Vote

A number of issues hold Planning Board back from memorializing granting plan, variance relief approval; Revision will be presented for vote at April 27 meeting.

Potential Walgreens Site Still Awaiting Final Vote Potential Walgreens Site Still Awaiting Final Vote

With applicant Rocco Iossa Jr. saying it is likely that Walgreens would be the bottom-floor tenant for his mixed-use development at 122 Main St., the Madison Planning board carried action on memorializing the granting of site plan approval and variance relief to its April 27 meeting.

Iossa and his attorney Nino Coviello had hoped the resolution would have been voted on Tuesday night. However, a number of contentious issues created what the board saw as a need for a revision and more input from engineering consultant Frank Russo.

Discussion over lighting time frames, linking to business hours of the possible tenant proved to be a sticking point during the meeting, as Coviello asked that the current wording stating lighting be allowed only from dawn until dusk be changed.

"We said we would comply with the ordinance, consistent with the community and district," Coviello said after the possibility of a 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. lighting restriction was raised. "If there is a restaurant, that restaurant may stay open to 10 or 12. I can't agree to that."

However, Iossa later said that it appeared that Walgreens is a strong candidate for a tenant and wants to be open 24 hours.

"They are very on top of this," Iossa said about the possible tenant. "Even though I don't have a lease with them, I'm mildly confident that we'd have one in next 30 days."

Planning Board Chair Steve Tombalakian said that a 24-hour usage would require the applicant to come before the board again for a public hearing. Board members expressed concern over both lighting issues for neighbors living nearby and what at 24-hour business like Walgreens could mean to the community. Board member John Forte said with not as much for kids to do in the borough late at night it could be a meeting ground for teenagers, which he said "could really be an effect on the neighborhood."

"Neighbors here heard testimony and it all said the lights would go off," Tombalakian said. "Procedurally how fair is that to people who live on Alexander (Avenue)?"

Coviello said lights closest to those residents would be on a timer and that only lighting in the immediate vicinity of the building would be on during late-night hours. However, planning consultant Susan Blickstein didn't believe that was what Coviello and Iossa conveyed at earlier meetings.

"I understood it that your lights would go off... in essence a good part of the evening the site would not be lit," Blickstein said. "That's what I think a reasonable person would take away from that presentation. Whether you were talking around it in some strategically clever way, that may have been."

The resolution will be up for memorialization again at the next Planning Board meeting, scheduled for April 27.


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