By Dan Moffett

    Manalapan commissioners unanimously approved a minor change to their sign code that could have a major impact on business development in the town.
    The commission voted to allow commercial tenants with more than 15,000 square feet of floor space in Plaza del Mar to post trademark signs as large as 200 square feet.
    Simply put, the change paves the way for Publix to build a supermarket in the heart of the plaza. Construction is slated to begin next year, with the store’s opening targeted for 2018.
    During negotiations with town officials and Kitson & Partners, the plaza’s landlord, Publix has pushed for permission to install a larger version of the company’s familiar trademark sign than the code allowed. The commission agreed to the request, but other signage issues remain.
    Several commissioners say they want Publix not to use illumination, preferring instead something more understated such as the masonry logo that marks the company’s store in Palm Beach.
    “I would hate to see some big bright sign for Publix that we don’t see for other tenants,” Commissioner Basil Diamond said.
    Mayor David Cheifetz said the ordinance change applies only to the size of signs and does not pertain to lighting or other details that the town hopes to resolve as negotiations with Publix move forward.
    Tom Hoban, president and chief investment officer at Kitson, has confirmed that negotiations are underway to bring a supermarket to the plaza but has declined to name the company. Publix also has declined to comment.
    “I am not in a position to speak about who we’re working with at the moment,” Hoban said, “other than to say we’re working with a grocer.”
    Town officials have confirmed the grocer is Publix, and Kitson has confirmed plans for a major overhaul of the plaza, scheduled to be completed late next year. The addition of a 26,000-square-foot supermarket actually will shrink the plaza’s total retail space by about 20 percent and require uprooting at least a half-dozen merchants.
    Several commissioners, including Diamond, Ronald Barsanti and Simone Bonutti, have expressed concerns that the new supermarket might be too big and change the character of the plaza.
    Cheifetz has said the town intends to work with Publix and Kitson to allay concerns about the new store, and that the town’s architectural committee will review “the final aesthetics of the plaza” before construction can begin.
    The town has received no formal design plans or permit requests from Publix, but officials say that could happen within the next month.
    In other business at the May 20 meeting:
    • The commission approved a policy change for donations to the town. Under the new guidelines, donations of cash to Manalapan that come with no conditions can be accepted by staff and commissioners. Cash donations with conditions or donations of goods, land or services must be approved by the commission.
    The town is trying to avoid repeating situations in which donations came with unexpected requests for plaques or naming rights.
    • Town Manager Linda Stumpf said that work to replace the south side of the Audubon Causeway bridge should be completed by June and weight restrictions on traffic removed. The project remains on schedule to be finished by mid-summer.
    • Stumpf said a consultant hired to evaluate the potential sale of the Manalapan water system to Boynton Beach is finishing up his work and should have a report ready for the commission’s June meeting.

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Comments

  • If the commissions job is to protect the quality of the citizens. Than how does passing the sign ordinance for a larger sign make sense. They didn't have to approve this. Please read.

        Manalapan commissioners unanimously approved a minor change to their sign code that could have a major impact on business development in the town.
        The commission voted to allow commercial tenants with more than 15,000 square feet of floor space in Plaza del Mar to post trademark signs as large as 200 square feet.
        Simply put, the change paves the way for Publix to build a supermarket in the heart of the plaza. Construction is slated to begin next year, with the store’s opening targeted for 2018.

    The community needs to speak to the commission. We need to be heard.

This reply was deleted.

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