Plans pitched for lot across from Rick’s Saddle Shop


Staff Writer

UPPER FREEHOLD — A new bank and drugstore, along with new medical offices, may soon pop up along Route 539.

The Planning Board reviewed conceptual plans for the commercial development called Cream Ridge Concepts at its Dec. 14 meeting. Planner/engineer Mark Shourds, of Medford, unveiled the plans.

Shourds told the board that the 10.5-acre property, which is across the street from Rick’s Saddle Shop and adjacent to a Monmouth County maintenance facility, is currently zoned community commercial in the front and agricultural/residential in the rear. He said he believes that the designation of the tract would entirely change to community commercial once the township concludes the revision of its master plan.

The site currently has Marge’s Deli, a multifamily house and farm structures on it. Lifelong township resident John Van Noordenburg owns the property, according to Shourds.

The property has 400 feet of road frontage on Route 539 and backs up to a branch of the Miry Run. The land has intermediate resource value wetlands that require a 50-foot buffer, he said.

Shourds said his client wants to subdivide the acreage into four lots, including two lots with highway frontage and two flag lots. While no tenants have been determined to date, the site plans include a 15,000-square-foot drugstore, a 7,000-square-foot bank and 54,000 square feet of office/medical office space, he said.

The proposal, which needs two setback variances, could have been planned with a cul-de-sac that would have avoided the need for variances, but his client did not want to do that, Shourds said.

“We did not want a municipal road to be maintained by the township,” he said. “We feel the better design is to ask for variances.”

The site would have two access and egress points on Route 539, he said. Conceptual plans have also been submitted to the county, which has jurisdiction over Route 539, according to Shourds.

The county indicated that it wants additional widening of the road, which would be included in the formal application, he said, and the applicant would do a formal traffic study.

A property owners association would be formed to take care of landscaping, snow plowing and the like, Shourds said.

According to Shourds, the developer plans to keep the large trees on the front of the property.

“We will make them part of the center,” he said. “It’s the reason the septic and driveway are located where they are.”

Shourds said the development is meant to enhance the character of Upper Freehold and to expand the commercial center in the area.

“It will bring conveniences and needed services to the community,” he said.

Board Chairman Richard Stern said he thought the proposal “definitely has a place here and has the potential to work.”

Shourds said he anticipates submitting official site plans for the tract to the board in February. Planning Board Administrator Susan Babbitt later said it is unlikely that the township would complete its master plan revisions before mid-2007.