MONTVILLE, NJ – The Planning Board rejected an application to install a 24-hour Wawa in the Pine Brook section of town.
Property owner Raymond Eshaghoff had made the application just prior to the area, located at the corners of Changebridge, Bloomfield Road and Route 46 East, becoming designated a redevelopment area. The township is hoping to improve the property as well as adjacent properties, which have fallen into disrepair, according to testimony at the redevelopment hearings.
The proposed Wawa would have been a fuel station and quick-stop market with a side driveway running from Route 46 to Bloomfield Avenue. Customers would turn right into the facility, and then turn right again to access the fuel pumps or market. This driveway, which officials from Wawa stated improved the flow of traffic through the site, increased the impervious coverage over the allotment for the proposal.
At the April 13 meeting, attorney Steven Schepis presented changes to the plan in response to board members’ and public members’ concerns. They included a concrete aisle in order to prevent left-turn exits onto Bloomfield Ave; a different, “monument” sign on Bloomfield Avenue; revised signage details; and the reduction of Rt. 46 signs to 20 feet in height.
Residents had expressed concerns at prior meetings, and at this meeting, about the rear entrance and exit to the property from Bloomfield Avenue. During rush hour, the road backs up with traffic accessing New Road in Parsippany due to the entrance to Route 280. Ironically a Wawa is located near that 280 entrance. Residents feared the traffic on Bloomfield Avenue would cause more accidents at the site with left turns into the property, and potentially traffic backups due to left turns into the property. Testimony from Wawa professionals had stated they did not believe it would, due to the width of Bloomfield Avenue.
Eleven residents came to the microphone to speak against the proposal, some bringing letters from neighbors due to the meeting being held during the public schools’ spring break. They listed other concerns such as increased crime, increased traffic on Route 46, cars cutting through on Waxberg Lane, and the fact that Wawa is a 24-hour business.
In his closing statement, Schepis said the number of variances had decreased to 11. He said that the Wawa would be a “substantial improvement” over what is existing: an abandoned building. He stated it could be something the “town could be proud of.”
According to the minutes from the meeting, board deliberations included concerns regarding:
- distances to residents and houses of worship
- slope issues
- noise issues
- best use of site
- number of variances needed
- ordinances in place for a reason
- increased traffic
- site lines
- sign height on Rt. 46
- nature of 24 hour business to residents
- Bloomfield Avenue entrance and exit
- signage variances
- peak time conflicts
- cut through aisle
- proximity to residents
- increased traffic
- 300’ & 1000’ distance requirements
- left turn into Bloomfield Ave entrance
- separation requirements
- hazards to gas stations
- safety issues for neighbors
- cut through on Waxberg Lane
The vote to deny the application was unanimous.
Editor's Note: this article was written according to the minutes from the April 13 meeting as published on the Montville Township’s website, after approval by a vote of the Planning Board. To read the complete minutes from the April 13 meeting, click: minutes