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Township Residents Criticize Gas Station Plan

The Washington Township Zoning Board held a public comment period at its hearing for Sky Trading's application Tuesday.

Washington Township residents voiced their concerns about Sky Trading's plan to knock down and replace it with a new eight-pump gas station and convenience store during a zoning board meeting Tuesday night.

The plan calls for the gas station on the corner of Pascack Road and Washington Avenue to be replaced with a 1,211-square-foot convenience store and a gas station with double the number of pumps currently on the site. Residents from adjacent and nearby homes said they were concerned about safety, noise and pollution problems that might result from the project. The gas station is in a residential zone.

"This site does not exist in a vacuum," McKinley Avenue resident Dorothy Alderson said. "There are good people living around the site."

Washington Avenue resident Donna McGinnis said she does not want a larger gas station on the site, which borders her home. The current gas station is about 18 feet tall, while the proposed convenience store would be 22 feet tall. There will also be a 44- by 52-foot canopy over the pumps. McGinnis and other neighbors said they were concerned the project would lower the value of their homes.

"It will be bigger than my house," McGinnis said.

Grace Hogan, also a Washington Avenue resident, suggested the site could be improved with less drastic changes. McKinley Avenue resident Mary Ann Orecchio said the site should not have a convenience store while there are still empty stores in the strip mall further down Pascack Road.

"The ones it would be most convenient to are opposed," Orecchio said.

Zoning Board Chairman William Johnson said Sky Trading's attorney, Bruce Whitaker, will be able to make his closing arguments at the board's April 17 meeting. Board members will deliberate and vote at the meeting on May 15. Johnson requested that all the applicant's and board's experts who testified at previous hearings attend so they can answer board members' questions.

Carey Grant March 21, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Whats wrong with a little ol' gas station people? You didn't give a peep when they planted a cell phone tower up the road a bit. I say build it! I like the smell of gas! Build it BIG!
Jennifer March 21, 2012 at 05:00 PM
The fact that the intersection they are speaking about is HORRENDOUS to begin with having the current station there currently, I completely agree with the residents. That's such a SMALL lot, all it would do is cause more traffic for that area not to mention the fire department being blocked in when traffic backs up there nd it being a residential area. They ought to find a better place or town.
Grace Hogan March 21, 2012 at 08:24 PM
The Zoning Board will make its decision based on the facts and the letter of the law. In this case, the Municipal Land Use Law. Residednts made their case based on the MLUL, case law, the Township's Master Plan and ordinances, NJ DEP regulations and other public documents. The gas station is a nonconforming use in a residential zone. Sky Trading seeks to expand the nonconforming use and add a mini-mart, a new nonconforming use. The courts have found "nonconforming uses are inconsistent with the objectives of uniform zoning...The method generally used to limit nonconformin g uses is to prevent any increase or change in the nonconformity...our courts have held that an existing nonconforming use will be permitted to continue only if it is a continuance of substantially the same kind of use as that to which the premises were devoted at the ttime of the passage of the zoning ordinance. (Town of Belleville v. Parillo's Inc. 1980). Sky Trading's application is, in essence, a new business model to enhance its profits at the expense of public health and welfare.
rozette March 23, 2012 at 11:34 AM
Does Grace Hogan's family work for Sky Trading? Putting a bigger commercial property on this corner is terrible it must be stopped. The traffic is terrible and the town doesn't nothing to alleviate it. CVS wants a big store across the street, stop the GREED go to the meeting on April 17th and hopefully the town will listen to your demands.
Grace Hogan March 23, 2012 at 01:22 PM
If Rozette attended the meetings and read my letters to the press over this past year, she would know I am opposed to the proposed developments at the intersection. The Zoning Board has been hearing the application for two years. Residents have spent that time attending meetings, educating themselves so that they may represent themselves and cross examine theapplicant's expert witnesses. The public is encouraged to attend the remaining meetings on this application; however, those who wish to comment on the application will be late to the party. Public comments were taken at the 03/20/2012 meeting.
Hans Engel March 24, 2012 at 02:00 AM
All voices should be heard and represented. To make assumptions, give opinion, and involve one self in this matter should be based on facts as 'perception is not always reality'.
Linda Murpy March 25, 2012 at 01:10 AM
To have your opinion count in making a difference, residents should attend Zoning Board and Council Meetings and voice their opinion for the public record where it would be meaniningful. The reality of the proposed development for 5 Star gas station is grounded in facts, documented by government agencies and the letter of the Law. Zoning Board meetings are a judicial proceeding where interested parties, represented by counsel or Pro Se, are heard.

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