CRANFORD - Third time was the charm as the Zoning board approved a site plan application that allows WaWa to come to North Avenue East by the Garden State Parkway where Horan Lumber was located.

The property being built on contains two lots, one of which is located in Cranford and the other in Roselle Park, separated by a rail spur.

In 2016, a site plan was approved by the board for the Wawa food market that included 35 parking spots, six fuel positions, a new access driveway, and an addition driveway on the municipal line of Roselle Park. In 2017, the applicant sought a new site plan to add parking to the second lot, located in Roselle Park. This plan was also approved by the board, but the project stalled. 

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At Monday's zoning board meeting, a third site plan was introduced to the board with a new applicant from the prior two meetings. The prior applicant's contract with Wawa was contingent upon approvals and time, which expired.

The third site plan is consistent with the first from 2016 and eliminates the parking area on the Roselle Park lot. Instead, nine new parking spaces have been added to the Cranford side and the Roselle Park lot would be green space due to Wawa not being comfortable with the ability to cross the rail spur. By adding the nine spaces, the impervious coverage rises slightly from 82.1% to 83.8%, which required the variance. 

The 83.8% impervious coverage would be within Cranford, but the project as a whole when considering the property in Roselle Park would only be 61.6%, well below the zoning maximum of 75%. 

The board raised concerns such as what would be planted on the green space, if the inactive rail line were to become active again, if Wawa planned to add to the impervious coverage on the Roselle Park green space in the future, and more. At the close of the meeting, the board voted in favor 6-0. 

"I thank you for the long process that has gone on now for several years," said Zoning Board Chairperson, Ronald Marotta." I know that there's interest from the community to have the Wawa sited there and this will help the community to a great degree because it is the entrance or exit of the community and we have another project on the other side that's well underway and this area that had been neglected in the community is finally getting the attention that it needs. I think it'll help those who enter or exit our community to have a very favorable image on North Avenue.