ShopRite expansion approved

New retail space will take place of defunct theater

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— After more than four years in the process, the West Milford Planning Board has approved the expansion and renovation plan of the ShopRite Plaza on Marshall Hill Road.

In a unanimous decision finalized in late October, the board gave its approval to a 4,000 square foot expansion to the supermarket as well as 9,000 square feet of new retail space, including the demolition of the now defunct theater where a new 7,500 square foot retail space will stand.

ShopRite's expansion will include over 1,300 square feet for a dairy cooler at the rear of the store, nearly 1,700 square feet additional by expanding the front of the store and just over 900 square feet of a mezzanine. The plan calls for wider aisles and new entrances.

In addition, a new 1,500 square foot retail store will be located adjacent to "Just a Buck."

The Abby Theater, which closed its doors in 2009 and has sat vacant ever since, will be torn down. A slightly smaller 7,500 square foot retail building will take its place.

Changes to the parking lot are also part of this approval, including a 30 foot driveway across the front of the building. The building's facade will be renovated as well.

Because of changes made from the original plan that reduced the expansion at the back of the supermarket, a water tower in the back of the building will not have to be moved as originally thought.

According to the Planning Board resolution, which was approved in September and then finalized on Oct. 25, the property is actually two separate lots consisting of 15 acres. One lot contains Shop Rite and the various retail store attached to it as well as the movie theater building. The other contains the Wells Fargo Bank. Both lots are combined for a single shopping center.

One of the conditions of the approval is that Inserra request permission from the owner of Wells Fargo to restrict access to Union Valley Road to a right turn only. If that permission is granted, a "No Left Turn" sign will be posted at the exit.

The planning board first discussed the plan in 2008. Much of the plan is the same, including the changes to the facade. The board found the amended site plan an improvement over the previous plan because impervious coverage and building coverage were reduced, eliminating a parking variance.

Weather permitting, construction may begin as early as this winter.

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