Another Walgreens coming to Belleville


A new Walgreens with a drive-thru pharmacy is coming to Belleville.

The township Planning Board voted April 28 to approve an application for site plan and bulk variances filed by WIN Belleville Development LLC to develop the retail store at 165-183 Washington Ave.

Frank Cozzarelli, attorney for the applicant, said the plan calls for the removal of all the currently vacant retail shops on that stretch of Washington, mostly the former Motorcycle Mall, to the corner of Rutgers St., and construction of the Walgreens with on-site parking for 40 cars.

The development site, consisting of just under one acre, lies on the west side of Washington, just across the street from the Municipal Building.

Project engineer Bradford Bohler said the new building would comprise 14,000 square feet with a 3,600 square foot mezzanine and would be 35 feet high.

Bohler said the retail store would be open “24/7” while the drive-thru pharmacy hours were slated to be “8 a.m. to 10 p.m. only.”

Bohler said the drive-thru window would be positioned along the north side of the future structure, not far from a proposed driveway entrance on Washington, with a window, equipped with tray drawer and speaker, to conduct transactions.

Pharmacy patrons could, if they chose to do so, “call or text ahead” or use a special app, to expedite window service, he said.

There would be room for up to three vehicles to queue up for the drive-thru service, according to testimony given by the applicant’s traffic engineer Joseph Staigar and Bohler. They minimized any concern that waiting vehicles could end up in the driveway apron, possibly spilling over into Washington, a busy two-way roadway.

As many as eight metered parking spaces along Washington may have to go as a result of the traffic plan for the site, which required review by the state Department of Transportation since Washington – an extension of Rt. 7 – is a state road, Bohler told the planning board.

Elaborating, Staigar explained that in order for vehicles exiting the site onto Washington, those parking spots needed to be removed to ensure that drivers had a clear view of north/south traffic when entering the roadway.

Two driveway cuts along Washington are proposed: One on the south side of the retail structure allows for exit only; another on the north side permits traffic in and out but exiting traffic can only turn right to go southbound on Washington.

Another driveway cut proposed for the Rutgers side of the building is designed for both entering and exiting traffic but, since Rutgers is one-way, eastbound at that point, vehicles leaving the site can only turn right toward Washington.

Cozzarelli said that once construction begins, there are no plans to change the upgrade of the property as it runs uphill.

He said that Walgreens has no plans to hire security personnel for the new store but that surveillance cameras would be installed around the site.

Asked by the board how many employees the store would hire, Cozzarelli said that information was currently unavailable.

As of now, there are two existing Walgreens stores in the township, both on Washington, one at Greylock Parkway/Greylock Ave., and the other between Rossmore Place and Holmes St.

Cozzarelli said the new store would be replacing the facility between Rossmore and Holme and would be known as Walgreens’ “flagship store in Belleville.”

“My understanding is that demolition would start as soon as possible,” said Cozzarelli, “with actual construction to abide further review of our proposed driveway cuts,” in line with the planning board’s condition to minimize the loss of any curbside parking.

Once the project begins in earnest, it should take “three to four months” to complete, Cozzarelli said.



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