Residents Still Objecting to Convenience Store Plan
Washington Township's attorney said the residents opposed to the expansion of 5 Star Gas may be able to appeal to the council.
Washington Township residents who have opposed the expansion of 5 Star Gas said they intend to continue fighting the plan, despite a decision from the township's zoning board last month to approve the requested use variances for the project.
The plan, which the board approved with numerous conditions, calls for two more gas pumps and a canopy to be added to the gas station, which is located on the corner of Pascack Road and Washington Avenue. There will also be a 1,206-square-foot convenience store built to replace the garage currently on the site. The zoning board will have to pass a final resolution at their next meeting, on June 19, to officially approve the plan.
Residents who live near the site have criticized the plan for being too big and disruptive at an already-too-busy intersection in a residential zone. McKinley Avenue resident Linda Murphy said she intends to continue contesting the plan at the board's next meeting.
"We will continue to pursue this issue," Murphy said. "It's not over."
The board cannot reverse its decision, but residents can appeal the issue to the council, according to township attorney Kenneth Poller.
Colonial Boulevard resident Rosa D'Ambra said she was concerned the decision may have created a precedent that any corner in town could become commercial.
"This town has opened a can of worms on the corner of Washington Avenue and Pascack Road," D'Ambra said.
At a meeting of the planning board last week, Mayor Janet Sobkowicz and members of the board decided to send a letter to the zoning board to reiterate the importance of 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," planning board Chairman Gus Calamari said at the meeting.
If the residents do appeal the decision to the council, they may still be disappointed with the outcome. Some of the councilmen said the zoning board's decision should not be second guessed, even if it is unpopular.
"It's a tough thing going on in this town with the decisions that have to be made," Council Vice President Joseph D'Urso said.