A CVS pharmacy proposed for the corner of Spring Street and Speedwell Avenue cleared one of its last hurdles on Thursday, winning site plan approval during a marathon session before the Morristown planning board.
“This is a good start,” said Stefan Armington, the town council’s liaison to the board. “This lights up and puts a nice bow on a vacant parcel that’s been sitting there for 15 years.”
The board imposed quite a few conditions on CVS. They include:
- Prohibiting left turns from the site onto Spring Street between 3 pm and 7 pm on weekdays
- Eliminating all but one monument-style sign outside the pharmacy
- Hiring a police officer for the first few months during peak traffic hours to make sure new traffic lights and traffic patterns work properly
- Scheduling follow-up sessions with the town six months after the pharmacy opens, to re-assess the traffic situation and determine if adjustments are needed.
Next, CVS must conduct an environmental study of the 2.2-acre property–former home to a car dealership and gas station–and secure construction permits. Last fall, CVS expressed a desire to open the pharmacy by this August. Plans now call for a 13-month build-out once ground is broken.
“I think it’s a good project for that part of town,” said planning board Vice Chairman Dick Tighe. “It’s retail, and the town needs retail. Hopefully, it will be a spark to get more retailers into town.”
Landscape architect Carolle Huber has designed a sidewalk park for the Speedwell side of the project, along with plans to plant 79 trees to shade the parking lot.
CVS has agreed to donate a swath of its sidewalk frontage for creation of a new traffic lane on Speedwell in a subsequent development phase.
A traffic beacon–a pushbutton stop light for pedestrians–is planned for the intersection of Flagler Street and Speedwell. Additionally, CVS will pay to synchronize traffic lights at Speedwell’s intersections with Early and Spring streets, to improve traffic flow, Stefan said.
“Traffic in those two intersections will be better. It won’t be great, but it will be better. It should go from an ‘F’ to a ‘D,'” Dick said.
CVS anticipates hiring
150 35 to 40 full- and part-time employees, he added. The board’s approval was unanimous with one abstention, by member Michael Pooler.
The project is part of a larger redevelopment of the Speedwell Avenue area that includes a 268-apartment complex scheduled to go up this year across from CVS, on land that has been home to the town public works department. The sale of that property was completed a few weeks ago.
Morristown’s council voted 6-1 last month to amend its Speedwell redevelopment plan to allow the CVS project. Councilwoman Rebecca Feldman cast the dissenting vote, voicing concerns that a driveway by the pharmacy entrance might pose risks for pedestrians.