Planning Board considers Pappa John’s proposal

Staff Writer


RED BANK — Papa John’s Pizza would like to join the ever-expanding roster of restaurants in the borough.

At Monday night’s Planning Board meeting, the board began hearings on the national pizza chain’s application to establish a location at 368 Broad St.

Currently the site of Carhart Diagnostic Center, the 6,521-square-foot property sits at the point where Maple Avenue and Broad Street merge into Route 35 across the railroad tracks. Just over the railroad tracks, Newman Springs Road meets Route 35.

This is a very busy intersection, an issue of concern for a number of the board members.

"This is probably one of the worst intersections in the county, and certainly one of the most intensive intersections in the whole municipality," said Mayor Edward J. McKenna Jr., who is also a member of the Planning Board.

"I have a little concern over the amount of activity at that little triangle," noted Board member Melody Stroud. "It just really seems like chaos."

To accommodate the board’s reservations regarding potential traffic entanglements, Joseph Castelluci and David G. Eareckson, the attorney and engineer, respectively, representing the applicant, said they would agree to only right-hand turns for vehicles leaving the property’s two exits, one on Broad Street and one on Maple Avenue.

That still left the problem of what to do about vehicles traveling north on Broad that needed to make a left into the location, stalling traffic in the left lane.

Eareckson said he planned to discuss that issue when he meets with a representative from the state’s Department of Transportation.

A representative of the Foodtown supermarket, which has a common border with the property, also raised objections to the application.

"We think there are going to be parking problems," said Gary E. Fox, the lawyer representing Food Circus Supermarkets of Middletown, owner of the supermarket.

With customers and delivery drivers coming and going, the operation would generate a heavy flow of traffic and would create parking problems, as well as added traffic congestion, Fox said.

But, according to Eareckson, when the new building is constructed, while being the same size as the current structure, it will be reconfigured, creating additional parking spaces.

Fox also said he would like to see the lease agreement between the pizza chain and the current owners of the property, indicating that his client might be interested in purchasing the property.

"We think it’s great to clean up that end of town, which we could do and we would know where people would park," he said.

But when asked by Stroud if he were making a counterproposal, Fox said, "We’d like to see the lease before saying that."

McKenna suggested the matter be held until the Feb. 12 meeting to give both sides an opportunity to continue any discussions.