Applicant revises aspects of Howell office building

Staff Writer

HOWELL — An applicant who wants to construct an office building on Ford Road presented revised plans to the Zoning Board of Adjustment during a recent meeting.

Representatives of Ford Road Equities returned before the board on Nov. 23 seeking a use variance that would permit the development of a two-story, 16,000-squarefoot office building on Ford Road near Route 9 and Irene Boulevard, Howell.

The project requires a use variance from the zoning board because an office building is not a permitted use in the Agricultural Rural Estate zone in which it is being proposed.

Attorney Kenneth Pape, who represents the applicant, said the proposed office building is expected to be a multi-tenant space and include medical offices.

At a previous meeting, board members stated their concerns with various aspects of the proposal. The applicant sought to address those concerns with several revisions.

Engineer Peter Strong, representing the applicant, said a retaining wall has been shortened by 60 to 70 feet and the building’s septic system has been relocated farther to the west as requested.

The landscape in front of the proposed building has been enhanced to create a berm to hide the building and parking lot from the neighborhood in accordance with a request from the board’s planner and tree expert. A retaining wall was added that runs parallel to Ford Road, Strong said.

To add to the aesthetics of the building, architect Catherine Flores, representing the applicant, said the exterior of the building has been redesigned with the goal of creating a structure that will match the residential area.

“We went with more earth tones and incorporated brick for a residential look,” Flores said.

In addition, a true loading zone was placed to accommodate trucks, Strong said. Business hours would be 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and light emitting diode lights would be turned on at 6:30 a.m. and turned off at 10:30 p.m.

Pape said the applicant is prepared to bring in a 6-inch-diameter water line, as there is currently no public water supply in the area.

Residents expressed concern that medical offices would eventually take over most of the building and bring more traffic to the area than an office building where employees arrive in the morning and leave in the afternoon would generate.

“As each year goes by, more and more people are living here. The use of this office (building) over the years will increase and not decrease,” resident Bill Hitzel said.

Pape said the building is designed to accommodate about eight office spaces. He said medical offices would not take up more than 3,200 square feet of the 16,000-squarefoot building.

Several other residents spoke and expressed concern with the number a variances being requested by the applicant.

No vote on the application was taken on Nov. 23. Testimony on the Ford Road Equities application will continue at a future meeting.