By unanimous vote last Monday, the Municipal Land Use Board (MLUB) approved the variance application – with certain recommendations – for “Deals”, a discount department stores acquired by Dollar Tree in 2006. According to its website, Deals has “more than 194 stores conveniently located in shopping centers, malls, and bustling urban areas in 19 states throughout the country”. This is one of the last steps needed in order for the store to begin construction in Roselle Park. There still is the need of approval from the New Jersey Department Of Transportation (NJDOT) to widen access to Westfield Avenue (a state highway) along with the few stipulation by the MLUB in order for the variance to be fully approved.
The store will be located on the same property as “Pump It Up'” on 158 East Westfield Avenue. The former Castle Ford/Ford World car dealership, which is listed as having 25,000 sq. ft. of available space, will still have around 5,300 sq. ft. available for another business. “Deals” representatives stated during their presentation that they will occupy 10,000 sq. ft. and “Pump It Up” is listed as using 9,700 sq. ft. There is currently no tenant scheduled for that last vacant lot.
The stipulations set by the MLUB for approval of the application were that:
- The storefront sign be on/illuminated for only one hour after closing,
- Lighting be added to the back end parking lot,
- Any tree(s) removed during construction be replaced,
- Refuse containers be placed in areas around the store,
- Shopping carts are to remain in the store,
- Appropriate safety signs regarding children be placed in the parking lot area
The last recommendation was made since “Deals” is going to be right next door to “Pump It Up” a family/children’s party facility.
After the meeting, a handful of residents who attended the meeting felt the decision to allow Deals to come into Roselle Park was ‘a done deal’. The term used by a member of the public during the public hearing left those in attendance with the impression that there was nothing they could do to stop the approval of the application. MLUB President Loren Harms, when asked if there was anything else the public could do or if this was it, answered that this public hearing was the only time when residents could provide input on the matter. Even though there were residents who felt that Deals was not the best fit for Roselle Park, there was no legal reason to deny the application. In the end, residents felt more concerned with the general direction that development was – or was not – moving in the Borough and “Deals” was just an example of the lack of communication between the municipal government and the residents with respect to what is happening in the Borough.
A Deals representative stated after the approval that the usual time from start of construction to opening is 60 days, dependent on the final approval from the MLUB and the turnover lease from the property owner. Barring any legal appeal against the applicant, the MLUB will formally approve the application at their next meeting, scheduled for Monday, September 16, 2013.