Residents Resist Proposed Walgreens 'Operations'

Application continues with traffic testimony next board meeting.

By Elaine Van Develde 

No, there was no decision made on the contentious Walgreen's application at Red Bank's Planning Board meeting Monday night. But, yes, people learned a bit more about what to expect with its operation should the application be approved.

And they weren't too thrilled. Though, it was a consolation for them to find out that, above all in its operation, the store would not be open 24/7, like the Walgreens in West Long Branch that sits on a Route 36, not abutting any residences. 

And while the Red Bank store, proposed by Mark Development, is slated to be one of the smallest, the plan is still to offer a drive-through pharmacy, which residents mentioned they'd rather see at the slightly larger 13,000-square-foot Little Silver store, to no avail.

Planning Board Vice Chairman Daniel Mancuso let people waiting to possibly see an end to the application process know at the onset that it wasn't happening now. 

"There will be no decision on this application tonight, if that's why you're here," he said. "At the next meeting we will be hearing testimony from the traffic engineer and we can wrap this up. Tonight we will hear testimony about operations only."

And that's what was heard — testimony on operations from Walgreens District Manager James Burke. But, while some facts were offered, most of that testimony didn't comfort residents neighboring the slated spot for the store at the former Rassas car dealership spot either. 

The shuttered dealership is near a congested five-way intersection on Route 35 near Newman Springs Road and abuts residences in the rear. 

Burke offered the following information:

• The store is slated to have an 11,000-square-foot main floor with a 3,000-square-foot mezzanine above it for stock only;
• The store would contain a main shopping area with a pharmacy, a photography area and a clinic;
• There would be an estimated average of 35 to 50 customers in the store on an hourly basis;
• The store plans call for a drive-through pharmacy that would cater to seniors, people who aren't feeling well and mothers with babies, for convenience;
• The store would be open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. in the front of the store Mondays through Sundays, with the pharmacy open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and, starting out, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; 
• During holiday season, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the store would be open from 7 a.m. until midnight for about three weeks;  
• Approximately 10 employees would be working during peak times;
• A total of 30 full- and part-time employees would be employed at the store;
• There would be about 12 to 15 deliveries a week, maximum, that would include about two warehouse deliveries a week, for which the trucks would be parked for about 1.5 hours each time (three hours a week) and about 10 other deliveries, mostly on box trucks, of things like chips, magazines, newspapers, Pepsi and Coke, that would be parked for about 15 minutes each.

Burke said that delivery trucks could possibly, but not likely, start arriving at about 7 a.m., "but that would be the earliest," he said, noting that someone would have to be there and the store would not open until 8 a.m.

After a resident questioned the store's idling policy, or how long trucks would be permitted to sit with engines running, the developer said that they had no such thing, but would look into it at the request of the board. 

The volume level of customers at the proposed drive-through was questioned as was the possible sound emanating from refrigerated trucks. Burke said that the conversational tone with three feet between the customer and the pharmacist at the drive-through could not be heard 20 feet away. One resident argued that.

Traffic testimony will be heard next before a decision is made.


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