Peddler’s Village presentation draws crowd

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An outdoor meeting about the future development of the Peddler’s Village site in Wall was held on Sept. 8. PHOTO BY DANIELLA HEMINGHAUS

WALL TOWNSHIP – About 125 people attended a meeting Tuesday evening in which a proposal was presented for a mixed-use lifestyle center that would replace the vacant Peddler’s Village shopping center off the Manasquan Circle. 

During the meeting, held outside in the Peddler’s Village parking lot, several opponents of the plan repeatedly interrupted and tried to shout down the developer’s representatives as they presented various aspects of the plan. A few opponents held signs with messages such as “Say no to rezoning” and “Stop overdevelopment.”

Other people in the audience responded by urging the opponents to let the presenters finish speaking because they wanted to hear what was being said. Many of those applauded what they described as a “smart plan.”

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Frequently, shouting matches erupted among visibly angry audience members.

The meeting was hosted by property owner John Shibles, who had sent letters to neighboring residents and business owners, inviting them to the presentation and question-and-answer session. 

Thomas Bauer, a landscape architect for the developer, said the revamped plan reduces the density from 350 residential units to 299, and the hotel from 150 rooms to 102 rooms, and it would have about 35,000 square foot of retail space.

Under its current highway business zoning, Mr. Bauer said, a developer would be permitted to build 189,000 square feet of retail space. He noted that permitted uses for the property as it is currently zoned, for highway business, include shopping centers, hotels, supermarkets, health services, houses of worship and agriculture. 

During the presentation, several opponents to the plan shouted that they would prefer to see the site rebuilt with a hotel, retail or other commercial uses, rather than have it rezoned for mixed use including residential. 

Several objected to putting a hotel there, saying that existing motels along Route 35 are the subject of repeated police calls for prostitution and drug abuse by motel guests. 

The developer’s traffic engineer, John Rae, said he has conducted several traffic studies of the site, including one in the summer of 2018. He said a mixed-use development such as the one proposed would generate significantly less traffic than an all-retail development.

Resident Robert Sosnowski said residents are concerned about traffic and he asked that Mr. Rae’s traffic studies be released to the public. 

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