RANDOLPH, NJ - The Board of Adjustment began public hearings for the Wawa to be developed on Route 10 West on the site of the former Nagel’s Candy Barn. After answering questions on the expert testimony from the civil engineer and traffic engineer, the board scheduled an additional meeting for Sept. 13 for additional follow-up due to the late meeting time.
Township zoning lists gas stations as a conditional use on the property, but these plans require many variances and waivers because the zoning does not permit the dual use for the traditional Wawa convenience store.
Working with Morris County and NJDOT, Wawa will be paying the full cost of intersection repairs at the Millbrook Avenue and Quaker Church Road intersection.
Greg Mohr of the Traffic Advisory Committee said, “the improvements to the intersection are greatly appreciated.”
The primary concerns for the public centered on traffic flow, deliveries in tractor trailers, lighting and trash collection. The proposed site plans show a driveway from Route 10 West in the same location of Nagel’s Candy Barn driveway. The existing Quaker Church Road entrance will be moved west slightly to accommodate the changes in grade.
Approximately 40 residents attended the meeting, and most believe the traffic in and out of the Wawa would only add to the traffic on Route 10. However, Traffic Engineer Justin Taylor of Dynamic Engineering assured them the traffic studies show “minimal increase” to current conditions.
Because Wawa is not considered a “destination,” and "the traffic we're drawing from is already out there," he explained.
Despite the public belief to the contrary, the traffic studies comparing the current site to proposed plans show “no detrimental impact,” Taylor said.
Traffic Engineer Lee Klein representing Randolph commented, “I’m satisfied with the trip generation numbers.”
David Timpanaro, a resident on Quaker Church Road, stated “personally, I’m opposed to the rear egress [on Quaker Church Road] at all. I think it creates a tremendous dilemma” due to the possible truck traffic increase on the residential road. However, Engineer Mark Whitaker agreed to not allow deliveries to use the back driveway earlier in the meeting.
While Timpanaro continued suggesting the truck drivers would use the Quaker Church entrance out of convenience despite the restriction, Taylor explained this is a standard request for Wawa locations. The township will also have the right to ticket any drivers who violate the agreement.
Most deliveries to the convenience store will occur during non-peak hours, with a daily fresh food delivery overnight and automated fuel deliveries based on the station needs. One condition of approval will be the use of smaller, 43-foot trailers for these deliveries.
“The driveway may be safe, I’m concerned about the safety of the community who are trying to use Quaker Church,” Timpanaro said.
The proposed improvements to the intersection and clearing vegetation for better sight distances will help “avoid dangers,” according to Taylor.
Residents who live directly across from the site wanted to know the measures taken to account for the excess light produced by a 24/7 convenience store and gas station. Whitaker proposed tall evergreens planted around the 17.5-foot parking lot lights to block some light towards the homes, as well as a fence along the edge of the retaining wall to block headlights.
By moving the existing driveway further west, the headlights of exiting cars will point at a row of trees between two homes instead of directly at one house, Whitaker detailed.
Ferriero took issue with the white light of the proposed LED bulbs, stating these are a harsh white light when a warmer light could be used. At the September meeting, Whitaker will return with updated plans showing required landscaping to block light, as well as additional lighting recommendations.
Residents also want to see a new location for the trash enclosure, which current plans show on the residential frontage of the site. Timpanaro brought up the noise and animals associated with the trash during his questions.
Whitaker explained the location was chosen for the associates’ convenience and safety while walking across the lot, but he will draft plans with a different location on the Route 10 side for review at the September meeting.