FAIR LAWN, NJ – It all comes down to the fuel.
The Zoning Board of Adjustment’s special meeting on March 19 for the proposed QuickChek application on the corner of River Road and Bergen Avenue seemed to have one sticking point: five gas pumps in an area carved out of the borough’s master plan that does not permit gas stations.
The Zoning Board and residents alike questioned QuickChek’s planner, Richard Preiss, who said the D-1 variance requested, necessary because fuel sales are not allowed in the zone, has the highest standard of proof. The applicant must show the least amount of negative impact, while also laying out how it can benefit the community.
“It all boils down to fuel sales,” QuickChek attorney, Andy Del Vecchio said while questioning Preiss.
The property straddles a residential zone and a business zone. The residential zone included on the application contains two private houses, which abut the TD Bank property.
The properties are listed as owned by Noorigian, according to Del Vecchio. Richard Noorigian is a board member of the River Road Improvement Corporation (RRIC). The RRIC, organized in 1995, is a Special Improvement District (SID), which taxes members in a specific zone and fosters a private/public partnership to organize, plan and implement the economic and physical improvement of River Road and the community of Fair Lawn, according to its mission statement on the website.
Priess said master plans, whether from the RRIC or from the borough, are crafted at the “macro” level, rather than the “micro” level.
“Master plans simply cannot account for every case, for every situation for every property,” he said. “That’s why there are planning and zoning boards.”
“A convenience store is permitted here but the fuel is not,” Priess said.
“Having the combination of the two types of business, the convenience store and the fuel, saves people a trip,” he said. “They make one stop, park once, therefore reducing the need to be on the road.”
Priess said he did not believe there was a substantial detriment to the area, mainly because the fueling stations are appropriate for the type of uses in the area.
In a pain-staking presentation with photos, Priess pointed out each business and its purpose, many of which cater to cars and maintenance of cars.
“In terms of gas, its not an inappropriate use, provided it meets the standards required for a D1 variance,” he said.
The next meeting in which QuickChek will appear is Monday, March 26 at approximately 8:30 p.m.