UNION, NJ — The local Planning Board unanimously approved site plans at its March 28 meeting to turn a 6.5-acre property along U.S. Route 22 that includes the Garden State Motor Lodge and Chuck E. Cheese into one with a Wawa, Fairfield Inn and fast food restaurant.
The property was declared “in need of redevelopment” by the board in August, a designation approved by the Township Committee in October. A vacant service station and an office building also are included on the property.
The Wawa and unidentified fast food chain — referred to as a Wendy’s by Kendra Lelie, of Clarke Caton Hintz, an architectural and planning company hired by the township to evaluate the property at the Jan. 24 Planning Board meeting — will be open 24 hours per day. A CubeSmart self-storage franchise is slated to operate from 5 or 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., according to Kyle Kavinski, the engineer for the project at Paramount Union LLC.
Wawa also will feature a 24-hour automobile fueling station and the fast food chain will have a drive-thru.
The Fairfield Inn will offer approximately 100 suites, a conference room and fitness center, with plans for an outdoor pool being removed from the site plan at the meeting in order to add eight more parking spaces.
Nicholas Verderese, the traffic engineer for the project, told the board he doesn’t expect a significant traffic change with this development, adding that the Wawa would be the main traffic generator.
“However, over 75 percent of that traffic are people that are already on the road and commuting,” he said.
Verderese added that the developer will reduce the amount of curb cuts on the property from seven to three, making it safer for pedestrian access.
At the Jan. 24 meeting, Lelie said the several access points currently in place cause “conflict in the area,” making that consistent with the township’s master plan.
“Here you have an application that fully meets the spirit and intent of the redevelopment plan,” planner Nicholas Graviano told the board.
Some residents who attended the meeting had concerns regarding the noise level once the Garden State Motor Lodge is removed, stating that the motel provides them with a “buffer” for highway noise.
Kavinski said all the buildings in the development will be 50 feet from the property line and that the developer will be adding more than 1,100 plantings, along with two rows of evergreen trees and a 6-foot fence along the Reeves Terrace side of the development.
“We’re planting a significant amount of landscaping and reducing impervious coverage on the site,” he said.
There will also be internal pedestrian paths constructed to connect the buildings to one another and provide easy access to a bus stop on Route 22.
Kavinski told the board that the developers are looking to complete the project in 2020, but the various tenants may arrive in phases. “We hope to begin this year and finish in 2020,” he said.
“This is an exciting redevelopment project which gets rid of blighted structures and introduces exciting new uses for this property,” said Stephen Hehl, attorney for the developer.