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Township Zoning Board Examines Proposal from Sky Trading for 24/7 Convenience Store

The Zoning Board of Adjustment heard testimony about a proposed plan for redevelopment of the 5 Star Gas station location

The Washington Township Zoning Board of Adjustment entertained the multi-faceted zoning variance requests of Sky Trading, LLC at a meeting Tuesday night.

Attorney Bruce Whitaker spoke on behalf of Sky Trading. He began with an overview of the application, which was begun in June 2010.

Due to proposed modifications to the intersection of Washington Avenue and Pascack Road, changes were made following consultation with Bergen County engineers, incorporating possible changes to the intersection.

The proposal is for the current station, to be knocked down and replaced with a four-island station and a convenience store, to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A canopy would be erected over the island area and eight parking spaces for the convenience store would be included.

Whitaker presented Brian Shortino as the applicant’s engineering expert. Shortino explained in detail the overall layout of the plan. He showed that with the proposed county road improvements, some land would be subject to a “dedication” (where the county acquires the land from the property holder) and some subject to easement (where the property holder still owns the land, but allows the county use of it). This would make the overall space to be used 13,177.4 square feet. 

Shortino went on to explain that the existing underground fuel storage would still be used, with the addition of another 20,000 gallon storage tank, allowing for three grades of fuel. Two driveways, one on Pascack Road and one on Washington Avenue, would provide access. Sidewalks would be added and the proposed canopy would be 44 feet by 54 feet, 15 feet from the ground to the top, with an additional 3.5 foot fascia. 

Concerns raised by board members in their questions included traffic flow through the proposed station, spacing between vehicles and property features and the smaller than normal parking spaces in the proposal (9 feet by 18 feet rather than 9 feet by 20 feet).

Following several more questions for clarification by members of the board, the citizens had a chance to question Shortino. Ten residents questioned the engineer, asking about delivery trucks bringing fuel and food, the aesthetics of the canopy and the convenience store façade and traffic flow around the proposed new space. 

Local resident Linda Murphy also questioned the reports of contamination to wells and soil located on the site. Shortino was not familiar with this issue and Whitaker pointed out that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection would have a hand in determining any necessary remediation of the land.

Dorothy Alderson questioned whether this would produce even more water run-off and flooding potential. Shortino believed the opposite would be true, though he did not present any hard numbers to that effect.

Township Engineer Paul Asolino presented an overview of the 18-page report he had presented to the Planning Board. For the most part, he did not take any issue with Shortino’s testimony or supplemental materials, and also agreed with Shortino’s assessment of the water run off, even lacking the numbers. 

Asolino’s main concern was over the proposed canopy lighting, which he thought was far too bright given the neighborhood and size of the site.

Because there was more to be presented by the applicant, and the portion of the meeting had already run for almost three hours, Board Chairman William Johnson called to adjourn the meeting. The Sky Trading proposal will be taken up again at the April 12 meeting.

doug April 04, 2011 at 03:44 PM
I am a resident of Washington Commons. I feel that approving this application would finally clean up the corner. Coming out of Westwood or coming off of the Parkway, residents see this older, out of date corner, which needs alot of work. I pass alot of these new stations with convenience stores in my travels and they all look attractive and have an easy flow to them. Why would we want another older station with a mechanic shop cluddered with cars and trucks. Lets get realistic into the 21st century and update this corner. Convenience stores are in every town in north jersey, why not ours.
B@B April 04, 2011 at 04:36 PM
The issue is not whether the corners should be cleaned up. The issue is what the proposal would do to traffic flow and to residents who leave near that corner (and I am not one of them, so I don't have an axe to grind in that department). It's clear that Sky Trading and Mr. Kourgelis, who has been holding the town hostage to his own desire to replace the dilapidated properties he owns with a small strip mall, are going to continue to neglect their properties until they get what they want from the town. Is that the kind of corporate citizen you want in this town? Do you want corporate ownership of our government? Because that's what this is. Until and unless the intersection is widened (and even then), the traffic flow out of these properties is going to be a disaster. You can ban left turns all you want to, people will continue to make them. And traffic will become even worse. And those who live on Pascack Road and Washington Avenue will still be unable to leave their own driveways.
david snyde May 21, 2011 at 12:03 PM
Yes I am a resident of "Washington Commons" and agree the corner should be cleaned up and is an eyesore to the community and would like it to go away. However we have no choice if you were at the Zoning Board meeting. If you go from "Park Ridge to "Oradell" and pass every 4 way intersection you will notice there is not one "Gas Station/Convenience store placed on these heavily traveled roads. Just google search and you can see for yourself. Being a realtor I care about curb appeal and the entrances to our town. This us an "eyesore" to anyone who passes by. The attorney for the applicant was asked at the meeting if they would do landscaping if their use varience was not approved they said a big "NO". We have other ways to approach this problem and it is not adding a convenience store so the property looks great and creates "Grid Lock" for generations to come. The traffic study published by the county last August at the slowest time of the year showed 18,000 vehicles passing our 4 corners and even now we have trouble getting out of our community during certain hours of the day. If this traffic was to increase which it will with the convenience store and the mini mall across the street you will never be able to get out on Pascack Road during the day. Property values of communities along this back up will be reduced and realtors will say this town has such "Grid Lock" on Washington Ave and Pascack Road why pick this town to live in. David

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