SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – At Thursday night’s Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting, Ronald E. Klos Jr. of Bohler Engineering presented a scaled back site plan for the proposed Wawa on Route 22 near Glenside and Mountain Ave. As was the case at previous meetings, Wawa presenters met vocal community resistance.
With his attorney Joseph Paparo, Klos addressed the changes his team had made after consulting traffic experts and Wawa representatives.
The new Wawa building itself has been reduced in size to 5,051 sq. ft. from a previously determined 5,600 sq. ft. The rear entrance facing Mountain Ave. has been eliminated completely, along with the 36 sq. ft. signage and additional illumination required.
Significant changes were made to the gas station area, which would feature six multi-dispenser units (gas & diesel pumps) instead of eight. The canopy above the gas pumps was modified to an A-frame and reduced in size and height. Underground fuel tanks were also moved from the northern (when looking at site map) part of the lot to the eastern side.
The trash enclosure was moved away from residential borders, and Wawa engineers made minor alterations to the landscaping buffers in addition to adding bike racks and sidewalks throughout the site.
While adequate parking (10,102 sq. ft.) is still being provided by Wawa engineers, they did reduce the number of spaces from 58 to 54. They also relocated the entrance along Route 22 East. Two entrances to the lot still exist, and fuel trucks will still enter the site and navigate counter clock-wise around the gas station area.
Mark Rogoff, an attorney hired by John Lama and other residents opposed to the Wawa, questioned Klos’s revisions.
“Many people have to go all the way back around the gas station to get out, God forbid there is a tanker there unloading fuel,” Rogoff said.
Rogoff also questioned the possibility of cars having to wait for a fuel tanker or garbage truck to finish loading, which Klos assured is a very brief process. Some questions were deferred to the traffic engineer’s testimony, which was ultimately postponed.
Members of the Board and Public also posed questions for Klos regarding his testimony about the site revisions. Inquiries included the multi-dispensers to pump both diesel and gas, the ability for cars to enter the site safely near Glenside Avenue, and security after a streak of robberies in the neighborhood.
The lengthy testimony did not allow for any other witnesses to be called, and the meeting was cut short after two hours of presentations as the proceedings went on past 10:00 p.m.
Wawa engineers altered their original plans in an effort to address neighborhood concerns. However, community opposition remains strong as evidenced by the heavy turnout at the Zoning Board meeting. Several times through the evening, Zoning Board Chairman Anthony Gialanella asked residents to be respectful of the proceedings. Several members of the audience retorted that the rules of the process are not posted anywhere for them to read.
The Zoning Board of Adjustment will continue to review the application on Thursday Oct. 29, 2015.