UNION, NJ – At its last meeting, the Township of Union Board of Adjustment voted to approve the addition of a gas facility at the Costco location on West Chestnut Street and Route 22.
Attorney Steve Hehl represented Costco at the meeting. At an earlier hearing, testimony from the traffic engineer was addressed. There were no public comments. “Costco is a very important member of the business community in the Township of Union,” he said. “They are a significant employer, provide an avenue for residents and businesses in the area for shopping, and they support to the school system and police department, all making them an important member of the community.”
Hehl said one-third of all businesses in Union utilize Costco for their needs. He added, “gas is an integral part of the Costco model.” He said nearly 90% of all Costco facilities have a gas component and Costco views this as a benefit to its members and the surrounding residents.
The property is located in a B/C zone, that does conditionally permit gas stations. Hehl said the gas station would be located far from the residential area. The wholesale store would be between the residential area and the gas facility. There have been no objections from residents or businesses to the application.
Addressing any parking concerns, Hehl said no parking variance is required and Costco would be in compliance with parking rules with the addition of the gas facility. Hehl referred to the location of the proposed gas facility as in the “’finger of the lot’ – not out on West Chestnut Street, but in the back towards Hudson in an area that is under-utilized.”
Hehl admitted that traffic along Route 22 is “difficult”, but by locating the gas station in the back portion of the property, it will divert traffic towards the industrial streets of Hudson and Geld, discouraging people from coming back out to West Chestnut Street when they are travelling back out to Route 22.
“We have addressed all of the items from township professionals and engineering throughout previous testimony. We feel we have provided the criteria for the Board to grant the site plan approval and variances associated with this application. We feel it’s an important service, not only to Costco itself but to the community and to the area,” concluded Hehl.
Clarifying why the final vote was taking place, Board of Adjustment Chairman Richard Galante said “all of the testimony was given prior to tonight and all of the public comments were done prior to tonight. Tonight we are here to vote following Mr. Hehl’s summation.”
Discussing the traffic issues along Route 22, Board member George Petkov said, “as long as it does not intrude into where the residents are, I don’t have a problem with it. The positives outweigh the negatives.”
Voting no, Board member James DiGiovanni said, “the additional traffic worries me. I don’t like this as an additional use of this property.”
Board Chairman Galante said he “thought long and hard, but will vote yes. My main concern was the residential neighborhood. The facility will be on the other side of the building so there won’t be any type of noise or fume situation to irritate neighborhood. People will be pulling out away from the neighborhood.”
The Board of Adjustment then granted the variances applicable to the application with one dissenting vote.