Business & Finance

Newton Planning Board Denies Taco Bell in 6-2 Vote

George Gloede gives his testimony about the Taco Bell Proposal Credits: Danielle Francisco
The municipal building is packed as the final meeting for the Taco Bell proposal is held Credits: Danielle Francisco
The Planning Board listens as the public states their comments and concerns. Credits: Danielle Francisco
Missy Muller asks Mr. Gloede a question about parking if the Taco Bell restaurant proposal was approved. Credits: Danielle Francisco
Newton resident, Earl Schick, presents his concerns to the planning board during the public portion of the special meeting held Thursday, October 8. Credits: Danielle Francisco
Fireman Bob Wehrinburg, states his concerns about safety issues in regards to emergency vehicles on such a small property. Credits: Danielle Francisco
Hamilton street resident, Joe Kocur, states his concerns to the planning board about how  Hamilton Street could go from being a relaxing street to being too fast. Credits: Danielle Francisco
Attorney for the client, David Wallace, speaks to the planning board before they make their final decision. Credits: Danielle Francisco

NEWTON, NJ - The Planning Board has denied the proposal to build a Taco Bell in Newton after five months of meetings.

Since June, David Wallace and his client have been at every Planning Board meeting, proposing to build a Taco Bell in what is currently the County Seat Restaurant’s parking lot.

There has been much controversy stirred, especially from the residents of Newton about the location in which the applicant wishes to build the restaurant. Missy Muller of Hampton and Earl Schick of Newton spoke during the public portion of the special meeting held on Thursday.

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They both were in agreement, along with multiple others who were in the crowd, “It is not that we do not want a Taco Bell in Newton, we are not saying that. We are saying that we do not want a Taco Bell in that specific location.”

The architect expert, George Gloede, provided multiple exhibits of the site plans for the building that the client had intended to put in the lot. He complied with the board’s suggestions and came back to the special meeting with a by-pass lane plan and a non-by-pass lane plan to be voted on by the board.

After everything was all said and done; testimony from the witnesses brought forward by Wallace, comments from the board and comments from the public, the board made multiple motions for the different plans for the one proposal.

Gary Marion made the first motion to deny the by-pass lane plan due to the lack of space and the amount of traffic it would cause. Three other members agreed with Marion, including Kent Hardmeyer, Flaherty and Mayor Daniel G. Flynn. They all believed that there was not enough space on the location to adequately service the proposed restaurant. This motion failed due to a lack of majority, a 4-4 vote.

Chairman Greg LeFois then made a motion to approve the plan with the non-by-pass lane. Again Marion, Hardmeyer, Flaherty, and Mayor Flynn all denied the motion due to safety issues and an inadequate traffic study that did not seem to have calculated the peak hours of a lunch rush. This motion also failed due to lack of majority, another 4-4 vote.

Mrs. Le Fois made a motion to approve the proposal as a whole, with the original non-by-pass lane idea. Mr. Ricciardo seconded the motion. However, this time, there was a six to two vote against approving the plan. While the original four continued their no votes, Councilwoman Sandra Lee Diglio and Councilman Le Fois chimed in and made the final vote 6-2 to deny the proposal as a whole.

Members of the public, Muller, Schick, and Michael Brezney and others thanked the board for their time and consideration on the matter.

Brezney said, “You really restored the community’s faith back in the board by taking the time to think about the town, and put the town of Newton first.”

According to David Soloway, town attorney, once denied, the proposal cannot be re-filed unless there is a significant change in the whole of the proposal.

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