Proposed shopping mall construction hits snag in road

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:18

    Sussex County - There's a 3-inch thick report sitting in the hands of township officials detailing transportation plans n alone -- for the proposed Frankford mall, so one of the project's principals isn't surprised to find legislative bumps concerning the $54.8 million project. "This is one of the largest projects that Sussex County has ever had," said Howard Buerkle, project developer of Sussex Commons LLC, in Secaucus. "It isn't something everyone sees everyday up here." What Sussex County officials do see are issues surrounding the 364,000 square-foot, open-air shopping mall planned for construction at Ross Corner, where Routes 15, 206 and 565 intersect. The area is also home to Skylands Park baseball field and the county fairgrounds. A committee delayed the proposed plans for the mall earlier this month because it found the developer had not submitted adequate information regarding the impact the project would have on the area's traffic. "The ball is back in their court," said Eric Snyder, a committee member and director of the Sussex County Division of Planning. "There's plenty of time. We don't have the impact analysis that we need so we don't have any choice, but to wait and see what they (Sussex Commons) come up with." Buerkle said he wasn't surprised by the board's action and expects to meet with county officials soon. "All concerns will be addressed," he said. "When you have a project this extensive, it takes a lot of time to digest. There's nothing that can't be resolved." "The engineers on both sides are knowledgeable and professional," said Kevin Kelly, of Kelly and Ward in Newton. "You start out with 100 issues and narrow them to 55 and then to 25. That's how it gets worked out." Satisfying the review committee is just the first step toward construction of the mall. Plans are currently under study by Harold Pellow, the township engineer, who will determine if the project meets regulations including sewer and water systems for the Department of Environmental Protection. His review is expected to be completed early next month. "Any large-scale project takes its time to make its way through the regulatory process and then consideration," said Snyder. Buerkle said the mall will include 70-90 stores in 310,000 square-feet designed for retail space, 30,000 square-feet for six restaurants, and 24,000 square-feet of office space. He estimated that the project will create more than 400 construction jobs, 440 permanent full- and part-time positions, and deliver an additional $4.5 million in tax dollars to the surrounding local and county budgets. "People are calling all the time," said Buerkle. "They want their children to work there; they want to work there. They want to know when it's going to get done." Early on the process, Sussex Commons officials have expected to complete construction August 2006.