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Zoning Board Planner Testifies About Convenience Store Application

Stan Slachetka said he had some concerns about the proposal from Sky Trading

The Washington Township Zoning Board Planner testified Tuesday night about the Sky Trading application, which aims to demolish at the intersection of Pascack Road and Washington Avenue to create a convenience store and a gas island with four fuel pumps.

Planner Stan Slachetka did not give board members his opinion on the approval or rejection of the application during his testimony, but reviewed how they need to evaluate the application's components.

He said that while he has heard other testimony from traffic experts indicating that the site can function, he believes there isn't a margin of error.

"It's a tight site and you're introducing a pretty busy retail use over time," Slachetka said.

He told members of the board that they had to weigh the pros and cons of the application before making a decision. He said adding a new use to the site, in this case retail, heightened the burden on the applicant to prove the benefits outweigh the detriments to the community.

Slachetka also brought up the reexamination of the township's Master Plan, which was completed in 2006. He said at that time, members of the Planning Board decided during the reexamination that they did not want to expand commercial uses in the township beyond the existing commercial zone. The Sky Trading application deals with a site in a residential zone, though there are commercial uses currently in the area, including and .

"I think that the board needs to consider the issues of how the site functions," Slachetka said. "Whether or not the board feels comfortable that the site can handle both uses."

He added that board members also need to consider the impact to adjoining properties, including light spillage and noise "to ensure the applicant has met their burden of proof as to no substantial detriment to the public."

While Slachetka said having a retail use instead of a repair shop might me more appropriate for the lot, he was concerned about the new structure's location on the site in the application, which would no longer be in the center.

"Now you're moving structures and moving activity substantially closer to the residential areas," he said. "That's a concern from a planning perspective. I do have a concern about the limited setback in the residential areas."

Zoning Board Chairman William Johnson decided because of the late hour that public comment on the application would not be heard until next month. He said he didn't expect summations on the application until January at the earliest.

The next Washington Township Zoning Board meeting is scheduled for Dec. 13.

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