Plan For Somerset Street Retail Structure Approved By Planning Board

Architect Susan Sheffmaker answers questions during the April 18 Planning Board meeting.

A plan to construct a new building on Somerset Street that could hold up to three retail stores was approved April 18 by the Planning Board.

No brands have as of yet been secured for the new structure, the board was told.

The 3,675-square-foot building will be constructed on what is now a wooded, 12,500-square-foot lot, said Joseph Jaworski, the plan’s engineer. An additional 5,000 square feet of land to the rear of the property will be used by Leewood Developers, one of two companies with redevelopment projects in that area.

An 11-space parking lot will be located at the rear of the building, which is being constructed by Essam Abozid. Abozid has owned the property for more than a decade.

Up to three, 1,200-square-foot retail spaces can be created in the building, with entrances on both the Somerset Street side and the rear, said Susan Sheffmaker, the project’s architect.

The target lot is also bordered by Oak Place. Board member Robert Thomas asked if the side of the building facing that street could be prettied up a bit.

“can it be treated a little more decoratively, as if it’s a minor front?” he asked.

Thomas said he just wanted “something added to offset the solidness. I’m starting to really get really upset at buildings we’ve approved in the past, where the front of the buildings are not oriented toward the street and the general public sees a rear wall or a side wall that’s nothing but cement.”

“We’ll be glad to address that,” said Peter Lanfrit, the applicant’s attorney.

Each of the retail stores will have a 15-square-foot sign, illuminated by three gooseneck lights.

Two driveways on Oak Place and a curb cut on Somerset Street will be eliminated, and one driveway will be placed on Oak Street, away from the state road.

There will also be a six-foot-high board-on-board fence along the rear and one side of the property.

“Mr. Abozid has lived with this site for the last 13 years and we’ve worked very hard to come up with a plan that fits and also satisfies the needs of the redeveloper in that area,” Lanfrit told the board before its vote.


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