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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 .

The zoning board 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 , may be on hold because of a recent ruling from the Department of Environmental Protection, which states between it and any "major developments."

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor James Leggate at JMLeggate@gmail.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

kris best June 07, 2012 at 12:56 PM
I thought there were pollutants underground at the Five Star contaminating our waters. Are they going to clean that up first. I never hear that mentioned any more. As far as the CVS goes.....are you kidding me!!!! It takes 20 minutes now to get through that intersection, can u imagine if we had a strip mall there! I think putting a CVS there is an insane idea!!!!
James Leggate June 07, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Kris- They will have to remove contaminated soil as one of the conditions of the plan's approval.
Falcon Fan June 07, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Its about time we start to see some progress in town. Along with the CVS we will finally get the intersection improvements we need. As it is now, the intersection is a disaster. The rest of the world is modernizing, wake up Towship officials. The "quaint suburban character" of the town will not be lost because we upgrade the main intersection in town.
B@B June 07, 2012 at 02:48 PM
And the fact that ALL local governing bodies have turned a blind eye to the soil contamination for who knows how many years allowed Sky Trading to hold the cleanup hostage to their grand plan to turn this intersection into a truck stop. Actions (and inactions) have consequences.
Chris Cortazzo June 07, 2012 at 08:40 PM
The town should buy those three abandoned houses, tear them down, and make a left turn lane. Use the rest of the land to build 'quiet residential character'.
Concerned June 08, 2012 at 01:34 PM
It's a little late for the planning board and Sobkowicz to comment. Where have they been for over a year? Our illustrious Council has yet to comment. They are never there. Who the heck does this Zoning board report to?
Concerned June 08, 2012 at 03:46 PM
A diesel truck stop, a gas station 7-11 and more potential congestion is not an upgrade
JB2011 June 10, 2012 at 02:58 PM
If the CVS and "convenience" store do go in, use your wallet and do not support these stores. As Kris said, putting a "convenience" store on the corner is just ridiculous. There is nothing convenient about that corner.
Concerned June 10, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Seriously, how would one get rid of the current zoning board?
Township Resident June 10, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Chris - those house are owned by Season's. I'm guessing they won't sell them if they are looking to build on those lots.
Township Resident June 10, 2012 at 10:57 PM
If you're that "concerned" check in with the town council and they can put you on the Zoning Board as soon as one of the spots opens up which is usually at least once per year.
Concerned June 11, 2012 at 01:30 AM
To Township Resident-If the council picks 'em why can't they open their moutts.Pretty sure not being crony will help for zoning board selection.
payanks00 June 12, 2012 at 09:22 PM
It is a must that they reconfigure and revamp the intersection of Pascack and Washington. It get's backed up to Hillsdale Ave at some parts of the day. Has the expansion of the intersection been approved as well? I can deal with the gas station enhancement if it means a modern intersection.
Jeffrey Tammen June 16, 2012 at 05:11 PM
The township needs to replace mayor sobkowitz and any council member who doesn't have the town interest at heart.Saying nothing and doing nothing is not a option they should be removed along with zoning board . Don't forget mayor makes appointments .someone has to be accountable for allowing the sale of a property with out cleaning it up first.the tax payers of this town should wake up and clean house , come to the polls and put some really good residents in .
Concerned June 16, 2012 at 05:35 PM
amen!

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