Sparta limited menu in supermarkets to expand - sort of

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:59

    Another Stop & Shop proposed for Sparta. By Joseph Harkins SPARTA - Local shoppers hoping for a new supermarket in town will get their wish, although for some it may look like more of the same. Sparta officials said another Stop & Shop supermarket will be constructed near the intersections of Routes 15 and 517. The proposed 76,000 square-foot food store would replace the existing Stop & Shop on Sparta Avenue. Township planner David Troast doesn’t expect local consumers to be too excited about the proposed plans, but said a new Stop-N-Shop would have to offer the competitive pricing that many residents believe left town when Acme and A&P went out of business a few years ago. “Are there some horrible things about the Stop & Shop in Sparta right now?” said Troast. “Yes, we all know it. But if you think the new store is going to operate the same way, it will be out of business because its debt service will be so great that it won’t be able to handle costs.” The proposed Stop & Shop, along with two new retail stores, is part of a development project planned for the Sparta junction. Troast said the supermarket would have a deeper foundation to prevent against the appearance of a traditional strip mall and would also need to meet specific design, facade and landscaping codes. Jersey Investors, the Hackensack-based developer of the proposed project, presented plans before the planning board earlier this month. A public hearing concerning the project is scheduled Nov. 2. The Stop & Shop Supermarket Company LLC, based in Quincy, Mass., employs more than 58,000 associates and operates 365 stores throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York and New Jersey. “I think the Stop & Shop corporation itself does have some nice facilities around the state,” said Troast. “They are very beautiful and competitive. And, that’s what they are proposing here.” Troast said township officials haven’t surrendered efforts to attract another supermarket to Sparta, but he isn’t sure the area demographics could support another food store. “Everyone wants to capture the Sparta market -- that’s why we have supermarkets just on the other sides of the town borders,” he said. “But, I don’t think the demographics could support another supermarket. I think the town can support a ‘super’ supermarket like they’re building (Stop & Shop) and then a specialty market like a Trader Joe’s or Kings.” Troast said the obstacles to bringing supermarkets to town have discouraged most potential developers. He said the town received an inquiry to build a full-service supermarket along with housing units where the CVS now stands in the theater plaza, but the developer found state regulations to be cost-prohibitive. “It’s more than cost,” he said. “It’s whether you can get a site approved by the state. Unfortunately, we have limited sewer and limited land that could support the market development.”