Retail Center Approved For Summerfields At Franklin

2-4-15 meeting4

Engineer F. Mitchell Ardman of Raritan talks to the Planning Board about the proposed retail center for the Summerfields at Franklin active adult community.

A more than 30,000-square-foot retail center for the Summerfields at Franklin active adult community was approved Feb. 4 by the Planning Board.

The center, which will be located at the corner of School House and Randolph roads, will also serve residents of Canal Walk.

The center will be built in two buildings on about 8.5 acres. One of the buildings will measure about 21,000 square feet and the second about 10,000 square feet.

The center will also feature a “mill house” with a working water wheel. The structure will not be inhabitable and will probably be used as a storage area, the project’s planners said.

A retail center for the community was envisioned when Summerfields was approved in 2005, said Peter Lanfrit, the applicant’s attorney. Lanfrit said a retail center had also been planned for Canal Walk, but that plan has been scrapped.

The center will offer 173 parking spaces, project engineer F. Mitchell Ardman told the planning board. The project came in with seven handicapped parking spaces proposed, but the applicant agreed to increase that number.

The mill house, he said, “will provide a very unique element to the project.”

Ardman said designers did not want to put “another clock tower” on the site, but wanted to do something different.

Ardman said townhomes located to the rear of the center will be screened by “dense” plantings, and a berm will be built along Randolph Road. The berm will feature a variety of plantings, he said.

One of the several variances sought by the applicant was for the size of signs on the various stores. Township regulations set the size limit for those signs at 30 square feet, while Summerfields wanted to install signs that are 40 square feet.

Ardman said the larger signs were necessary because of the detailing that will decorate the buildings’ facades. He said smaller signs would not be easily seen.

Architect Lawrence Appel said the design of the mill house was something his team “took very seriously.”

“It’s something rooted in the history of the community,” he said.

The project’s traffic engineer, Gary Dean, said the center would not adversely affect traffic flow in the area.

Dean, who was the traffic engineer for the Summerfields development, said the project is generating less traffic than originally anticipated.

As a result, traffic, he said, “won’t be a problem.”

A number of residents from Summerfields and Canal Walk attended the meeting, but seemed to be there simply to ask questions about, rather than to oppose, the center.

Ray Henson of Canal Walk said that while he was “very excited” about a new retail center coming in, he wanted to make sure that certain types of stores were not tenants.

“We don’t want a 7-11 type of store,” he said.

Lanfrit told him that at this stage of the development, there’s no way to tell which stores would be tenants, but, he said, the developer is “trying to make it more upscale.”

Township planner Mark Healy told Hansen that stores such as 7-11 or Quick-Chek would probably not find the center attractive, mainly because of the design restrictions.

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