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Planning Board Approves Trader Joe's-PetSmart Plan

No timetable yet on when the stores will open

The Planning Board approved the application for Trader Joe’s and PetSmart to move into the vacated Whole Foods building Wednesday night.

The application was met with unanimous approval by the board and the public who attended, including Jonathan Pazer, who heads Millburn United, a group of town residents who opposed a previous PetSmart application. That application included a pet hotel and was ultimately dropped.

The residents who spoke, among them Pazer, said they were pleased with the application and several others echoed the same sentiments.

Patrick Sprouls, attorney for A & R Associated, said the next step calls for the architects to come up with design drawings for the vacated Whole Foods building, which is at 187 Millburn Ave., and “then we’ll take it from there.”

Trader Joe's is targeted to open this fall and PetSmart in early 2010.

The application calls for Trader Joe’s to occupy approximately 13,000 square feet of the Whole Foods building while over 15,000 square feet would be devoted to PetSmart.

The PetSmart facility would include dog training, grooming and adoption services, which will primarily focus on cat adoption. Trader Joe’s is a specialty grocery store that sells everything from frozen food to dry produce.

“This will be great for the city of Millburn,” said Roger Manshel, a Planning Board member. “This could serve (Millburn) as a great gateway from the east.”

PetSmart and Trader Joe’s will share the building's one loading dock. Under the application agreement, only one large delivery truck will be allowed on site at one time, alleviating some local residents' concerns about traffic. Deliveries won’t be allowed during school traffic hours, which are from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. In addition, delivery trucks will not run during the night.

There will be 583 parking spots at the building, 23 less than expected and what was stated on the application. But according to Richard Keller, engineer of the site, “there’s adequate parking for both stores.” And Keller contends even during busy shopping days, such as holidays, there’s more than enough parking.

PetSmart will offer cat adoption on weekdays and will be able to hold up to 12 cats a night, depending on demand for adoptions. This was a hotly contested issue among the board members and PetSmart North Jersey district manager Clinton Goga, who stated “it’s hard to say how many cats we will have on a nightly basis; that number could be anywhere from 10 to 15 depending on circumstances.”

Another detail that was ironed out during the hearing was the size of the new Trader Joe’s and Pet Smart signs on the parking lot side of the building facing Myrtle Avenue. Originally, Sprouls and Keller called for the signs to be 44 inches with high lettering, but after long debate, Sprouls decided to drop the signs to 36 inches, which coincided with the planning board’s wishes.

Also, lights at both stores will be turned off within one hour of closing time in accordance with the application.

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