By John Burton
RED BANK – The borough council is expected on July 24 to introduce an ordinance that would prohibit new drive-thru windows for businesses abutting residential zones.
It’s a move that, if adopted, could impact a pharmacy proposed for the old Rassas Buick site.
An application is in the process of being filed with the borough for what has already turned out to be a controversial plan to build a Walgreens pharmacy with a drive-thru window on the Little Silver-Red Bank border.
The borough council will introduce the proposed ordinance at its next meeting, Mayor Pasquale Menna said.
“It’s a quality of life issue,” he said.
The convenient drive-thru windows, which have been proliferating here and elsewhere, come with consequences, Menna said, including adding noise and air pollution from idling vehicles.
“It’s not something that should be foisted on our residents who live right next to or in back of these businesses,” he said.
“I believe a majority of the council is in favor of it,” Menna added.
Filed with the borough’s planning and zoning department is an application proposing to build an approximately 14,200-square-foot Walgreens pharmacy, containing a drive-thru window at 375 Broad St., the site of the former Rassas Buick dealership. The application calls for a store with 11,200 square feet of retail space and much of the rest as storage.
While the property is zoned commercially, residential neighborhoods are located behind it.
Nearby homeowners have expressed concerns and objections to the plan. Residents fear that a business with a high volume of customers and vehicles will results in people looking to use the property as a shortcut from the congested Broad Street area.
“That’s the biggest problem – too many people in and out of a spot like that,” said Melissa Grieves, who lives on Salem Lane in Little Silver, in close proximity to the site.
Martin A. McGann Jr., the attorney representing the developer, Mark Development, LLC, disputed claims of increased traffic for the location.
“Basically, we’re talking about senior citizens, handicapped customers, moms with kids in car seats, picking up their prescriptions and going,” McGann said.
A traffic study commissioned for the site showed there would be on average about four drive-thru stops per hour, he said.
He stressed that the customers would be living in the immediate area, anyway. “It’s not like we’re building Disney World with people coming from hundreds of miles away.” Menna was uncertain whether the proposed ordinance would have an impact on the pending application and insisted the application was not the motivating factor in the ordinance.
McGann said the application has been filed with the planning and zoning department and didn’t want to comment on the governing body’s actions.
The ordinance wouldn’t affect the application as long as it was deemed complete by the local zoning officer, a land use lawyer not involved with the case said.
However, while the paperwork for the application is completed, the developer has yet to pay the necessary filing fees, making the application incomplete as of Wednesday, July 17.
No planning board public hearing date has been scheduled on the application, according to the planning and zoning office staff.
Objectors to the proposal are continuing to express their concern to borough and Monmouth County officials, searching for their own attorney and investigating what options maybe available to them, Grieves said.