Advance Auto Parts will be coming to the World Tire site on Springfield Avenue soon — after answering the concerns of some neighbors during the Maplewood Planning Board approval process.
Mayor Vic DeLuca noted that contractors were working on the roof this week; a dumpster is currently in the parking lot.
While happy that the site will no longer be vacant, near neighbors expressed concern at Planning Board hearings this summer about potential traffic and other nuisance activity.
Planning Board Chairman Tom Carlson said that the concerns were addressed in the final resolution of the planning board application passed on September 4 (see below, Section 14, beginning on page 16). Agreed-upon conditions and revisions include:
- narrowing the width of the driveway along Springfield Avenue from 40 ft to 24 ft.
- an agreement to work with community members on whether or not lights should be left beyond 30 minutes after closing.
- ensuring that deliveries to the store be made only during hours of operation.
- ensuring that delivery trucks (no tractor trailers) must enter from Springfield Avenue and not from Colgate Road; ensuring that delivery trucks exit and head toward Springfield Avenue and not into the residential neighborhood.
- installing a new fence on the north side of the property to provide screening between the site and residential properties.
Importantly, Advance Auto must also “strenuously enforce” the prohibition against customers doing any work on their vehicles on the property or adjacent roadway and also place signs defining what is prohibited.
“We are not proposing any service activities. This is not a mechanic shop. This is a retail store,” said Marsha Moore, attorney for Advance Auto at a Maplewood Planning Board hearing on August 12 (see the minutes attached below).
The last piece of the puzzle to address neighbors’ concerns about auto repairs taking place on the site was put in place at the Township Committee meeting on Oct. 21 when the TC unanimously passed an ordinance prohibiting “the repair of motor vehicles within the public right-of-way except in emergent situations” in order to prohibit customers from making repairs to their automobiles on side streets after making purchases at Advance Auto.
The addition of Advance Auto is welcomed by Mayor Vic DeLuca who mentioned the retailer in an interview published on The Village Green in September. DeLuca noted that larger retailers and developers like Advance Auto have deeper pockets and better business plans than many mom and pops. Advance will be making “over a half million dollars in investment into this property that’s currently vacant,” said Advance Auto’s attorney at the August 12 hearing.
“The real story here, to me, is whether the neighbors believe that the system is working for them in terms of mitigating the effects of the operation of the new retail business,” said Planning Board Chair Tom Carlson. Carlson said that neighbors were “both forthcoming and constructive at our planning board hearing.”
“The Planning Board did a really nice job of addressing the neighbors concerns,” said Springfield Avenue Partnership manager Julie Doran.