SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ - Before a standing-room only crowd Thursday night, the Scotch Plains Zoning Board of Adjustment held its public hearing at the Municipal Building to discuss a proposed 5,500-square-foot Wawa convenience store/gas station at the corner of Glenside and Mountain avenues near Route 22.
Joseph Paparo, an attorney for Hehl & Hehl, which represents Wawa, presented Lori Kiedaisch, project engineer for Wawa since 2014, as his first witness. A former project manager for McDonald's, Kiedaisch briefly touched upon the history of the company and its products, including convenience items, made-to-order sandwiches, and hot and cold beverages. She detailed that the proposed Wawa would be open 24/7 and that its gas station portion would feature eight multi-dispensing gas units with two pumps per unit.
Kiedaisch explained that every Wawa location is company-owned, and that employees are shareholders.
During her testimony, Kiedaisch stressed that Wawa stores have security cameras located throughout the property that are centrally monitored and that the corporation works closely with local police and fire officials in each community. She also noted that stores can control deliveries of dairy items (three times per week), but not for gasoline, which generally arrives two hours after an automatic warning signal informs suppliers that the gas tanks have dipped below a certain level.
Residents were given a chance to ask questions of witnesses. Ed Mari, a resident of Mountain Avenue, asked about Wawa's security questions, including whether Kiedaisch was aware of whether a Wawa store had ever been robbed (and challenged her when she explained that she had no knowledge of any Wawa stores being robbed at gunpoint).
Several times during her testimony, Kiedaisch deferred to engineering experts who were scheduled to take the witness stand later.
Attorney Marc Rogoff, hired by local resident John Lama to advocate for against the proposal, challenged the witness on a range of issues. Following a brief recess, civil engineer Ron Klaus of Bohler Engineering was the witness. Rogoff quickly pounced when Klaus said that his firm had requested a waiver and had not done an environmental impact statement.
"I'm reading the ordinance and it says that a request has to be made in writing to the Township's environmental commission explain the reasons a waiver should be granted," Rogoff said.
Wawa attorneys and professional convened and then asked for a continuation until the Zoning Board meets again on Thursday, June 4. To see pictures of the Wawa renderings, click here.