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Letter to the Editor: Proposed Retail on Rt. 9 is 'Traffic Nightmare'

Former Planning Board member Herb Lazar is against the proposed retail establishment at the corner of Symmes and Rt. 9 South.

The following letter is from former Manalapan Planning Board member Herb Lazar.

On July 26, the Manalapan Planning Board will consider changing the zoning on the land behind the library on Symmes Drive to permit retail establishments. 

Right now that land is zoned for an office park. The proposal will permit 105,000 square feet of retail PLUS additional commuter parking spaces [either 400 or 100 additional; it's unclear how many]. Also included will be a 4 way traffic light on Symmes so you can get to the new property and the Epicenter.   

This will cause a traffic nightmare, especially on weekends. The traffic study done by the property owner shows that traffic on Rt. 9 and Symmes is already bad and will get significantly worse. Retail will produce more traffic than an office building would produce. Traffic might back up from the new light, past the jughandle, to Rt. 9.

The Symmes traffic light will NOT meet the State safety standards as it will be too close to Rt. 9. Not only will Symmes be effected, but the streets and jughandles at Ryan and Taylor Mills will necessarily get worse.  Drivers will use Taylor Mills, Tennent and Craig to avoid Symmes.   

I’m all for economic development and increasing the municipal tax base. But this is crazy. Please come to the July 26 Planning Board meeting at at 8 p.m. and voice your concerns. Even if you don’t speak, your presence will be felt. 

Also, please send letters [120 Rt. 522] to Mayor Susan Cohen, Deputy Mayor Donald Holland, the Township Committee and the Planning Board [email addresses on the Township Website] or call them [732-446-3200].  Let them know that a short term tax ratable is not worth a long term traffic nightmare.

- Herb Lazar

gjc July 25, 2012 at 12:06 PM
IIt seems to me that every time some sort of development is proposed along or near the route 9 corridor anywhere in Western Monmouth, people are screaming about "traffic nightmares" or "overtaxing of utilities" or some other silly reason not to build. Be grateful that ANYONE wants to build a legitimate business. They are the only entities that might keep your property taxes in check. And if you really think that a few extra cars constitutes a traffic nightmare, go to NYC, the GSP or any medium-large town and see what "traffic nightmare" really means. What's the worst that's going to happen, you have to wait an extra minute to move?
cynicinmarlboro July 25, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Seems to me that traffic on Route 9 is already a nightmare along much of the road. It doesn't seem to phase any of the other towns that keep adding to the nightmare with their own building. Why should Manalapan be any different?
pj2805 July 25, 2012 at 01:33 PM
We do not live in NYC and there are enough vacant stores on Rt 9 between Marlboro and Manalapan that should be filled before we open up new construction.
Esther Strippoli July 25, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Has anyone discussed or considered adjusting the actual intersection to be more traffic and driver friendly. Manalapan needs retail and restaurants. It helps our economy, brings new jobs and allows us to shop closer to home verses driving to other towns for variety. I hope a review of the intersection and opportunity will be considered!
gjc July 25, 2012 at 01:43 PM
As a new business owner, would you want to be told that you must open your business on an existing property? Personally, if it were me, I would tell you to go scratch and go to another community that would welcome my business where I would want to build it. Businesses are not asking to build on residential properties but they want to select the commercial space that's most appealing to them.
pj2805 July 25, 2012 at 03:51 PM
I see from your response that this conversion is fruitless.
gjc July 25, 2012 at 03:52 PM
What politician? Route 9 is a commercial strip not a residential area. Parts of route 33 are commercial and other parts are residential. If you are living in a residential portion of route 33 you have every right to oppose commercial building there.
gjc July 25, 2012 at 03:55 PM
What conversion? Do you mean conversation? I'm sorry if you disagree with my opinion but my opinion is just that - my opinion. You have the right to your opinion too - right or wrong.
Tom Madden July 25, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Its not every time, its when it is not thought out, and impacts residential. Commercial does not trump residential. If you meet resistance, there is a reason, so yes... move along to where your business will be welcome. Traffic is a nightmare at the jughandles now and we refuse to allow it to be worse for yet another business that no one is clamoring for.
gjc July 25, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Tom- I have no problem with thoughtful discourse regarding commercial building and of course, commercial does not trump residential. My problem has always been that residents (and I am a resident, not a business owner), whine about the same thing over and over again. If residents were to get their way on every subject affecting business in the township, you would have a situation where the township is labeled "unfriendly" to business. Some may say, "So what?" A township without substantial ratables will have no foundation for funds to maintain township financial obligations. Think your taxes are high now? Wait until you have no substantial basis to pay the bills.
Joe July 25, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Like many shopping Centers along route 9, the builder needs to provide proper ingress and egress points to move the traffic along. I have found that the COSTCO development actually improved traffic flow since a third lane was added to tht area north of rt. 522. If we take that approach to the shopping centers, we will not have jam ups. The "nightmare" areas that I come across are the shopping centers such as the old Pathmark/ Kolhs area that Marlboro cops just sit and wait for people to cheat the shoulder to get into the parking lots! open up the roadway! There is enough room. Use concrete dividers and add an extra lane for thru traffic to pass on the left. If the developer want to pay for it, then let him. Poor planning produces poor results, smart planning can actually improve things. That means the public, the developers and the municipalities need to work together for the good of the whole! Hey what a novel idea!
gjc July 25, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Joe- I couldn't agree more. Proper planning is the key.
Esther Strippoli July 25, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Joe, Very well worded! Most headaches stem from poor planning, after thoughts or no planning at all.
Tom Madden July 25, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Those of us currently living in Manalapan came here for a suburban lifestyle, and for the 20+ years I've been here, its been that. There has been evolutionary change were businesses turn over, and are replaced with newer similar businesses. The town is not taking into account the impact of these new business on the infrastructure, and are just seeking the ratables, which while a large number on paper, will not result in a meaningful change in taxes to the resident. To that end, what is the point. If its $2 per household (not per $100/taxble, per household), does that justify doing it. If it passes, and we all apply for a reassesment because of reduced property value, its a wash, or a deficit. I ask that the planning board take as much care as they are with not destroying ruining rt33 in their continued planning with rt9. Someone mentioned a "vision plan" for rt33... agreed, lets have one for rt9 too, and not be reactionary, and keep revisiting projects that the residents are against.
Marlboro Mann July 25, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Here's a solution: Marlboro's Town Fathers will always embrace structures and businesses other deem unpopular. The only caveat is that it has to be built far from the rich side of town and nowhere near where the elected officials reside.
gjc July 25, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Tom, Geez Tom, the last thing I wanted when I came here was a suburban lifestyle. Ugh, how boring. I came solely for an extra bedroom and another bathroom which I couldn't afford elsewhere. By no means am I a business advocate, quite the opposite. But I do believe that fair is fair and businesses deserve to be heard at least at the same level as residents. I don't know about others but I don't want to have to get in my car and drive 25 miles or more just to buy something that I can't find in my own neighborhood. Can't afford the gas either.
Mike July 25, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Why do we want to let developers rape Manalapan like they raped Staten Island? Or, more locally, why do we want to repeat the mistakes of Rt 18 in E.Brunswick? We didn't move here to live in bumper to bumper traffic. Crossing at Taylor Mills and E.Freehold/Craig are horrible -- it can take several light sequences to cross from the jughandles. Heck, it can take a few lights just to cross 9 if you are traveling on those roads themselves. Symmes/Ryan are at least fairly decent. Now you suggest making crossing at that intersection to be equally heinous? Driving that stretch of 9 can be equally frustrating at many times of the day. If the town wants more shopping to bring down taxes (as if that ever happens, if I had a dollar for every developer who promised that I'd retire), add it to the other side on Rt 33 where, at the very least, a supermarket is probably needed. I'm not saying all development is bad. Just we don't need another large shopping center in that area.
Mike July 25, 2012 at 06:55 PM
There is no room to widen those intersections, unless you want to start condemning houses and gas stations. And interesting you forgot pedestrian friendly for the Rt 9 bus drivers -- heaven forbid anything be done commuting back and forth to Manhattan to pay the real estate taxes for those who have nothing better to do than eat out ans shop. Manalapan, Marlboro and Freehold have plenty of empty retail spaces -- if there was a demand, logic suggests those would be filled already.
Mike July 25, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Why do we want to let developers over develop our towns like they did on Staten Island? If you want to live in the city, move to the city.
pj2805 July 25, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Sounds like "gjc" doesn't live anywhere near Manalapan by stating " drive 25 miles or more just to buy something that I can't find in my own neighborhood." I can't picture what "new" product or service this complex will have. The harsh reality is that the township is looking to favor development over the quality of life.
gjc July 25, 2012 at 08:57 PM
pj2805 I am a Manalapan resident. What is said is if you drive businesses out by ridiculous regs, you will wind up driving 25 miles for many things. I didn't say that I have a problem now.
Aron Weiss July 26, 2012 at 03:10 AM
When Costco was being proposed their was fear of traffic tie ups it never happened. When Chase Bank at Pond Road was proposed their was fear of traffic tie ups it never happened. Years ago when the Target shopping Center was proposed on Rt. 9 South they added a third exit lane and the tie ups never happened. Why is traffic always the reason to keep something from being built? With proper planning and cooperation between the town and developers the traffic problems will not happen, jobs will be created and a ratable will be created. A win all around.... Aron from Manalapan
Tx July 26, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Aron lets remember what was said about the traffic when they wanted to put up Freehold Raceway Mall, yet now I am sure the mall is a plus point when a home is sold, (you have FRM right near you) Traffic is the go to problem that is always brought up.

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