ROXBURY, NJ – It’s the evening rush hour. You just filled-up at the BP gas station on Route 46 in Ledgewood. Now comes hammer time.
Poking the nose of your 80-horsepower, 4-cylinder sub-compact out of the station and onto the highway’s shoulder, you take a deep breath, narrow your eyes and size-up the situation. A seemingly ceaseless torrent of high-speed, westbound vehicles confronts you.
Launching onto the highway can be white-knuckle time even for the lucky drivers headed onto Landing Road who can stay in the right lane. God help the underpowered souls aiming to go west on Route 46, an endeavor that requires somehow finding a way of shooting across both barrels of the Route 46 two-lane, motor vehicle shotgun blast.
In testimony before the Roxbury Zoning Board of Adjustment three years ago, traffic engineer Justin Taylor spoke about this situation. Taylor was representing Gill Petroleum, a Matawan company that is in the process of building a new convenience store at the site.
“He stated it was clear that the “weave” maneuver to attempt to get to Route 46 westbound from the most westerly driveway was a difficult and unsafe one,” says the 2014 zoning board resolution approving Gill Petroleum’s plans.
Taylor’s idea, one endorsed by the board: Signs that say the station’s westernmost driveway is for Landing Road-bound traffic only. Drivers aiming for Route 46 west will be directed onto Orben Drive where they will “queue at the stop sign” and leap, one by one, into the current.
“This would provide them a reasonable opportunity to enter the highway and change lanes to proceed onto Route 46 west,” says the board resolution.
This is all expected to come to pass before winter, according to town officials. New signage isn't all that's being planned at the site.
The former 1,435-square-foot building on the 1.3-acre property has been razed. In its place will be a 2,429-square-foot “convenience store/coffee/donut/sandwich shop” with a beverage bar and a drive-through window.
The zoning board pointed out that the original township approval for the service station and pump islands dates back to 1967. “The applicant at that time was Humble Oil Company (Esso)," says the board resolution. :In 1970, the present lot configuration was created by a minor subdivision.”
One of Gill’s experts, planner John McDonough, pointed out to the board that Roxbury’s 750-square-foot size limit on service station convenience stores was seriously outdated. The board resolution says McDonough conducted “an analysis of the metamorphous (sic) of gasoline/service stations to gasoline/convenience stores” and found that 80 percent of all gas stations now come with convenience stores and that the average size of those stores is about 2,700 square feet.
“The ordinance clearly was written … contemplating a convenience store that was a mere adjunct to a principal gasoline service station,” says the resolution. “The applicant’s proposal would result in a true convenience store.”
The board found that Gill’s new store will “provide the economic synergy” to allow Gill to upgrade the property “from the existing outmoded, unaesthetic, unorganized operation into a 21st Century site ... which would result in a much more aesthetic site on one of the principal roadways/intersections in Roxbury Township.”
The zoning board went so far as to dream that some form of upgrade fever will sweep Roxbury once the new store is built. It said the structure, with its nice landscaping and lighting, will “have a positive influence on other nearby properties and encourage this kind of re-adaptive, rehabilitation of existing uses.”
A representative from Gill Petroleum did not return messages seeking comment.