Planning Board Members Disagree with Sky Trading Approval
The Washington Township Zoning Board approved a plan to upgrade 5 Star Gas with more pumps and a convenience store against the direction of the Master Plan.
Washington Township Planning Board Chairman Gus Calamari said he wished members of the township's zoning board had followed the lead of its chairman in voting against a variance for Sky Trading's plan to add a convenience store to 5 Star Gas.
The zoning board granted variances to Sky Trading at their last meeting that will allow the gas station to add an additional two-pump gas island and a canopy to the exisiting gas station use and to add the new use of the convenience store, despite the protests of residents who criticized the plan. While voting on each variance, Zoning Board Chairman William Johnson voted against the convenience store use, citing the township's Master Plan.
The site, at the corner of Pascack Road and Washington Avenue, is zoned for residential use, but the gas station has existed there since before the township adopted the Master Plan, a document which sets guidelines for which uses are allowed in different sections of the town.
"To extend a new use to a nonconforming piece of property goes pretty far afield from the Master Plan," Calamari said.
Other planning board members agreed with Calamari, and they decided at their meeting Wednesday to send a letter to the zoning board sharing their opinion on the issue. Mayor Janet Sobkowicz said the Master Plan states there should be "quiet suburban character" in the residential zones.
"The Master Plan is very clear and it's been reiterated over and over again," Sobkowicz said.
Planning boards are responsible for creating master plans, while zoning boards grant variances, when appropriate, allowing residents or business owners to use their land for purposes not normally permitted. The planning board re-examined Washington Township's Master Plan in 2006.
Planning board members also said they were concerned about an application to build a new CVS across Pascack Road from the gas station. That site is also zoned for residential use and currently contains several houses.
That plan, to build a 14,769-square-foot pharmacy with a drive-through, may be on hold because of a recent ruling from the Department of Environmental Protection, which states the stream behind the site requires a 300-foot buffer between it and any "major developments."