Friday, December 10, 2010

SONIC Yet Again

Yesterday the Planning Board continued hearing the application seeking approval for a SONIC Restaurant at the corner of Route 206 and Oxford Place.

About 100 audience members crowded the hearing room, most of them residents of the development located to what would be the rear of the proposed restaurant. At least one resident has retained counsel to object to the application.

Gary Dean, the applicant's expert traffic witness, presented extensive information about current traffic numbers and the expected numbers if a SONIC was approved at that location. Following his presentation he answered questions regarding the lot size, parking space size, traffic patterns, patrons cutting through local streets, and snow removal.

SONIC's engineer presented revisions the applicant had made following the last hearing, including those reviewed in the HNJJ's previous post:
"...Subsequent to their last presentation before the board, the applicant has made some revisions to the original design. They would plant 54 new trees and provide a conservation easement on the west side of the lot, where they would also construct a raised berm with a row of evergreens. They would reduce the height of their freestanding light fixtures from 20-feet to 15-feet, construct a sidewalk on the Route 206 side of the lot, and reduce the number of poster display boards on the side of the building from three to two..."

The size of the proposed freestanding sign attracted the most attention - and criticism - from the board members and the township planner. As previously noted, the sign is not in compliance with the township's sign ordinance. Even with their supposed revisions, the sign still exceeds the permitted height by 5-feet. The unchanged 112.3-square-foot face size is almost three times the square-footage allowed by the ordinance and would make it the largest sign in Hillsborough.

Applicant Tom Mascia claimed that the SONIC would not succeed without the sign as presented.

The application has been carried to the Planning Board meeting of January 13th, 2011.

HNJJ is surprised that the applicant has dug in his heels regarding the freestanding sign. Was he not paying attention?

HNJJ initially wondered why SONIC was interested in the proposed location as there will be a considerable loss of drive-by traffic when the 206 Bypass is completed. Perhaps the applicant is hoping to construct a sign that will be loom so high and large that it will be visible from the new road?

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