The Stop & Shop project proposed for the former Saks Fifth Avenue building that has been debated since the mid ‘90s is a step closer to breaking ground. Essex County officials have approved the use of Millburn Avenue, a county road, for entrances into the store. The permission was necessary because while the proposed store would be inside Springfield’s borders, a number of entrances would be in Millburn.
The Stop and Shop plan was rejected by the Springfield Zoning Board of Adjustment in 2002 after about eight years of legal wrangling between the town and the developers. That rejection was overturned two years later by a Superior Court judge. An Appellate Court upheld the decision, and the plan was again sent to the Zoning Board.
Springfield officials met with representatives of Royal Ahold, the Dutch owners of the Stop & Shop chain, earlier this year.
The Essex County is an important benchmark for the project, but it is not the final one. The application still needs to come before the Millburn Zoning Board of Adjustment, and nothing has been filed at Town Hall. Any application filed now would not go to a public hearing until next year. Millburn officials told Patch they have yet to hear from Royal Ahold.
Millburn zoning approval is necessary because an ordinance requires it if a project increases traffic by 10 percent of the proceeding use for the property.
Millburn officials were recently alerted about the county approval of the proposed driveway on the Essex County road. Essex County officials could not be reached for comment.
Stop & Shop representatives have not responded to several requests for information.