McDonald’s, located on the corner of West Westfield Avenue and Locust Street, appeared before the Municipal Land Use Board (MLUB) during their last meeting in December of 2012 to take the first step in expanding their location to encompass two lots on Route 28.
The purpose for appearing before the MLUB was the application of a use variance to move their drive-thru from its current location on the property to another spot which will be on the Krahnert property. If the site is approved, the Krahnert building will be demolished and all the vehicles will be removed from the property. McDonald’s and Krahnert Realty, Inc. -the listed owner of Krahnert Bros. Auto Repair – will have an agreement to lease the property on 112 West Westfield Avenue for 60 years. It will be a 20 year original lease with an option for five 8-year lease terms for a total of 40 additional years.
John Marmora, of the law firm K&L Gates in Newark, represented the applicant McDonald’s Corporation and provided an overview of the project which included a brief history where McDonald’s acquired the property previously managed by Jack-In-The-Box in 1981. As for the plans to grow, Mr. Marmora stated, “What we’d like to do is scrape the site, build a new facility right in the center of the two properties.”
Between 1981 and the present, the Borough adopted an ordinance prohibiting drive-thru/drive-in restaurants throughout the community and it became a non-comforming use. An application was made by McDonald’s and the drive-thru was approved. Now, the applicant, if approved, will eliminate all of the driveways on Westfield Avenue except for a right-in/right-out which would be at the far west end so all the way at the beginning of the Krahnert property. Currently the exit for McDonald’s has 7′ of corner clearance. The proposed plan will move the driveway 170′ away from the intersection which is more than the New Jersey Department Of Transportation (NJDOT) requires. The project will require approval from NJDOT since Westfield Avenue/Route 28 is a state highway. McDonald’s met with the agency in October for a pre-application meeting but no approval has been given yet. In addition, the entrance on Locust Street, a county road, will have its driveway graded to provide less of an incline, will be moved 15 feet further from Westfield Avenue, and will be perpendicular to Locust Street.
The restaurant will increase from 3,091 sq. ft. to 3,911 sq. ft. There will also be a modernized drive-thru design called a ‘side-by-side drive thru’. A single lane separates into two lanes and then returns to a single line for payment and pick-up. It has been studied to be 60% more efficient since studies from the corporation show that motorists spend most of their time at the ordering board asking questions, making order decisions, etc. The current drive-thru design allows for a six (6) vehicle capacity and the proposed designed provides ‘stacking’ for 13 cars. Parking, currently maximized for 30 spaces, will increase to a new design which will have a total of 37 angled stalls – short of the borough’s maximum requirement of 51 spaces. The dumpster will be moved from from its current location and further away from the intersection.
Among experts that offered testimony were Keith Cahill of Bohler Engineering, Traffic Engineer John Harter from Atlantic Traffic & Design Engineers, Inc. (an affiliate of the Bohler Engineering group of companies), and McDonald’s professional planner John McDonough Associates. For the project, a full study that includes traffic counts and other levels of service was not conducted. Instead, projections and trip generation were provided. Experts stated that the proposed plan will have almost 25% more green than there is presently, there will be no substantial harm to neighborhood, the new site will preserve the non-residential tax base, and will improve the visual and physical appearance of all non-residential areas; the latter were listed as goals and objectives of Roselle Park’s Master Plan. The proposed site will be considered one zone lot but two tax lots. The hours of operation, Sunday through Wednesday 6 a.m. till midnight and Thursday through Satursday 24 hours, will not change.
A ‘yes’ vote of five MLUB members was needed for approval of the use variance. The vote was unanimous with all present MLUB members approving the variance. Mr. Marmora thanked the Board and stated that McDonald’s will return for the next phase of the process in February or March of this year. It was noted that the final project is subject to NJDOT approval, which was not given as of the December meeting.