LOWER MAKEFIELD >> The Board of Supervisors has scheduled a special meeting for Monday, August 17 to consider approval of a mixed-use overlay district zoning amendment that could open the door to the development of a Wegman’s Supermarket in the township’s office research zone.
The meeting, to be held via Zoom, begins at 6:30 p.m. Information on how to join the meeting will be posted on the township’s website and on its FaceBook page. Public comment can also be sent prior to the meeting.
In June, the supervisors voted 4-1 to advertise the zoning amendment, which would allow two parcels of land in the office research zone to be developed with a mix of commercial and residential uses. The 37 acres of land are located on Stony Hill Road between Township Line and the Newtown Bypass across from Shady Brook Farm.
If the overlay is ultimately approved by the board of supervisors, DeLuca Homes and Equus Capital Partners (Shady Brook Investors LP) are expected to submit development plans to the township for Prickett Run at Edgewood, a mixed-use development anchored by a 120,000 square foot Wegman’s, 200 luxury apartments and clubhouse and 55,000 square feet of commercial space, including restaurant and retail uses.
In addition, the developers have voluntarily agreed to repurpose an historic farmhouse and barn as part of the retail development of the site. And it will preserve a number of old growth trees, create public spaces and build walking and bicycle trails that will link the project to nearby Edgewood village.
The plan, said the development group’s Attorney Steve Harris, is in keeping with an update to the township’s comprehensive plan, which identified additional uses, including mixed use projects, in the office research zone either as permitted uses or under an overlay district. The township made the changes last year in response to a shift in the marketplace away from office parks.
Plans for a 135,000 square foot warehouse and an office complex had previously been approved for the two properties. Both are on hold pending action on the overlay district.
Roughly half of the June meeting was devoted to going through the nuts and bolts of the proposed ordinance, including language changes and conditional use provisions.
Several issues prompted a give-and-take among the supervisors, including allowances for drive-thrus as a conditional use.
At one point, supervisor John Lewis motioned unsuccessfully to remove drive-thrus and drive-up windows as a conditional use option for banks, drug stores and restaurants in the overlay zone.
“I’m having a hard time with the idea of drive-thrus in a mixed use area,” said Lewis. “If we are truly going to have a mixed use area, there shouldn’t be drive-thrus. It should be pedestrian-friendly primarily.”
Chairman Fred Weiss argued in favor of keeping the drive-thru and drive-up window option. “In the new normal, drive-thrus, walk-thrus, however they design future buildings, this may be something that would be vital for business,” he said.
After hearing from the developer, fine tuning the language of the overlay and listening to close to two hours worth of public comment, the board voted 4-1 with Lewis voting against the motion to advertise the ordinance.
The township’s planning commission is scheduled to review changes to the proposed ordinance at its July 27 meeting and make a recommendation to the board of supervisors at its August 10 meeting. Both public meetings begin at 7:30 pm via Zoom.
“We’re looking to approve an overlay district only. We’re not looking to completely change the zoning,” said supervisor Dan Grenier. “An overlay district provides additional development options. It does not replace the existing OR zone.”