The unmarked "sea of asphalt" that is the Monaghan's Liquors parking lot was approved for upgrades including delineated spaces and curbing by Toms River's Planning Board last week.
Currently, the parking lot has no curbing, enabling uncontrolled vehicle access to the 1258 Route 37 property from the state highway and River Drive. The new plan is to restrict Route 37 access to an entrance only and have traffic exit on River, which will also have another entrance. Once on River, traffic will be able to connect with Route 37.
"The free for all at Monaghan's is about to come to an end," said attorney Harvey York, representing applicant 120 Exchange, LLC. "You kind of just pulled in and pulled out however you want. This plan represents a substantial revision."
The plan also calls for 19 marked parking spaces in the store's lot. Currently, "you park where ever you want," applicant engineer Millis Looney said.
Additional street parking is available on River Drive, complying with the required 22 spaces. Curbing will be installed on Route 37; some curbs already exist along River Drive and areas with missing curbing will be filled in, Looney said.
Township engineer Jay Lynch and board members welcomed the plan.
"It's an improvement to an existing difficult condition. It's an upgrade," Lynch said.
"From a safety aspect, the organized parking is a much needed improvement to that site," said board member Maria Maruca.
A 3,400 square foot addition to the store and landscaping improvements are also in the plan, according to the application. The application has been before the board previously, but the state Department of Transportation requested the changes that came before planners last week.
"For the first time, people will have driveway access to the building," said York, who referred to the uncontrolled lot as "sea of asphalt."
Property manager Donato D'Onofrio said it is unclear when work on the site will begin as other factors including securing the cooperation of neighbors must be dealt with.
"It's something that needed to be done," he said.