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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017 10 months ago

Oakland holding fast to design rules with RaceTrac

The elected officials say the town’s Gateway Corridor ordinance has strict guidelines to ensure Oakland’s main thoroughfares retain the historic look they desire.
by: Amy Quesinberry Community Editor

When a RaceTrac project wanted to build in the town of Oakland eight years ago, the applicant and principles couldn’t get onboard with the town’s Gateway Corridor Overlay guidelines, which are strictly written and leave little room for negotiation.

RaceTrac is back, trying once again to bring its market and service station to Oakland.

The gateway design rules apply to West Colonial Drive, where RaceTrac wants to build on a 16-acre tract of land at the intersection with Remington Road. Criteria include building placement, design considerations and allowed uses.

RaceTrac representatives attended the Nov. 28 Oakland Town Commission meeting to discuss the minute details that appeared to be stalling town approval.

The client is proposing a Planned-Unit Development consisting of six nonresidential lots, eight buildings and 50,000 square feet of floor area.

RaceTrac properties typically include a single, large, red canopy and service island; diamond-shaped columns by the gas pumps; brick-and-stone buildings; and a 175-square-foot roadside sign out front. This is essentially what was originally proposed.

Town of Oakland design guidelines call for two shorter canopies, squared-off columns, all-brick buildings and a 48-square-foot monument sign.

Another issue is the architecture on the main building. The town had recommended four different traditional architectural options and several awning options.

Mayor Kathy Stark was adamant that the building have a more historical look and even went so far as to say she would allow the canopies on West Colonial if the applicant would agree to a historic building and smaller sign.

In a memo to the commission from Town Manager Dennis Foltz, he wrote: “Not only is this the seminal commercial development utilizing the new Gateway Corridor criteria — and, thus, sets a design standard that will assist in future development along (State Road) 50 — it also sends a message to developers and residents that the town of Oakland means business and that it intends to maintain the character of our town and protect the residents’s desire to not be ‘anywhere USA.’”

The commission tabled its vote on the first reading of the ordinance until Dec. 12 to allow the applicant and town designer, Michael Morrissey, to find an agreeable design solution.

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