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Council Puts Limits on 24-hour Businesses

Vote is unanimous, as several residents from area surrounding potential Walgreens site look on.

It's going to be a lot harder to open a 24-hour business in Madison.

The borough council passed an ordinance Monday night that prevents retail establishments located near residential areas from conducting business between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The limitation applies to any business in the CBD-1, -2 and CC Zones which is also within 300 feet of any residential zone.

The ordinance, drawn up by borough attorney Joe Mezzacca upon request by members of the council, came after Rocco Iossa Jr., owner of the commercial building currently being built at the corner of Greenwood Avenue and Main Street, indicated he was considering a 24-hour Walgreens as a tenant.

Mezzacca has said multiple times that, in his opinion, the ordinance is constitutional and would hold up if challenged, as a similar ordinance passed in Springfield was upheld in 1980 (Quick Chek Food Stores vs. the Township of Springfield).

He and other borough officials have also pointed out that the ordinance does not completely eliminate the possibility of 24-7 business in the borough.

"The master plan in various locations, without citing specific sections, is concerned and focused on maintaining the character of residential areas in the community," borough planning consultant Susan Blickstein said at the June 1 Planning Board meeting, "and it seems to me that having reasonable restrictions on proximity of 24-hour businesses with respect to residential zones is clearly consistent. And as Joe pointed out, there are areas of the downtown where you could have 24-hour operations, but they are buffered by other commercial districts."

Establishments which already have 24-7 usage are grandfathered and will be allowed to continue, such as Dunkin Donuts, Shell, and Quick Chek.

There were no comments made at the meeting by council or the public regarding the ordinance. However, a group of about seven residents from Greenwood and Alexander Avenues who have consistently attended both council and Planning Board meetings regarding the zoning ordinance looked on from the public seating area.

The ordinance passed with a 6-0 vote.

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