By clare MARie celano
FREEHOLD — Planning Board members have approved a drive-up facility for the Community Bank, East Main Street.
Attorney Mark Williams, representing the bank, said plans for the project call for renovating what was once the Gibson Plumbing Supply warehouse, which lies directly behind what was once Gibson’s office at 34 E. Main St. That building now houses a law firm.
The property is an entrance driveway to the Market Yard parking facility.
Community Bank has a branch office on the other side of Main Street next to the Monmouth County Hall of Records Annex parking lot.
Bank director Arnold Silverman said the project proposes the conversion of an existing garage-type structure to a drive-up banking facility. It calls for a drive-up with three lanes, with the middle lane to have an automatic cash machine. The remainder of the building will house professional offices and bank offices.
Silverman said the hours of operation would be Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
A walk-up vestibule is also planned at the rear of the building conversion facing the Market Yard.
Silverman said the offices will be used for credit analysis and other aspects of banking done internally, not retail banking.
There will be no more than 10 bank employees at that location. They will park in the Lafayette Place parking lot, not in the Market Yard. According to the terms of the license agreement with the borough, employees who park in the Market Yard will be fined $500.
Difficulties with the bank’s application surfaced when discussion about signs ensued.
The applicant originally proposed a sign that board member and borough code enforcer Hank Stryker III said did not "match the prototypical sign, nor would it blend in with the design and character of the borough’s older homes."
The sign that elicited that comment was 4 by 6 feet, double-sided and internally illuminated.
"This design is not even close," Stryker said.
He asked the applicant’s representatives if the sign could resemble the carved parking lot signs the borough currently uses.
"This sign is so extremely illuminated that it belongs on Route 9," Stryker said. "There’s not another sign like this in downtown Freehold,"
Williams told Stryker the purpose of the illumination was mainly for safety reasons. He said the applicant would be willing to design a sign more in keeping with the board’s request.
Traffic engineer Henry Ney testified that traffic studies were performed on March 5 and March 9 to assess turning maneuvers into and out of the proposed bank area. The results indicated "excellent sight distance, adequate maneuvering circulation and A levels of service for vehicles exiting the facility into the Market Yard parking lot."
The borough will receive a large free-standing clock as a gift from Community Bank. The clock will be installed in front of the Freehold Public Library on Main Street.