Other NJ News

Months After Being Denied in Scotch Plains, Wawa Now Faces Opposition in Newark

Stores located in McCarter Plaza, directly adjacent to the proposed Wawa site, would be in jeopardy of closing, critics of the project claim. Credits: Elana Knopp
McCarter Plaza, located directly across from the proposed Wawa site. Credits: Elana Knopp
McCarter Highway/Rt. 21, located in the Central Ward's Lower Broadway neighborhood Credits: Elana Knopp

NEWARK, NJ — An application for a proposed Wawa in Newark's Central Ward was postponed at Monday night's meeting of the Central Planning Board.

The proposed project, to be built on two lots located at 1300-1346 McCarter Highway on a 2.483-acre site, would see a 5,051 square-foot 24-hour Wawa convenience store with 58 parking spaces, along with a 16-pump gas station.

The application was postponed at the request of Michael Oliveira, attorney for Tonymar LLC, the applicant and owner of the property.

Sign Up for E-News

The vacant lots sit along a largely industrial and commercial stretch of Route 21 in the city’s Lower Broadway neighborhood, an area that some residents say has seen a mass exodus in recent years as homeowners have left and many homes have fallen into foreclosure.

Lisa Gray, who started the Broad Street Neighborhood Association — a group of residents living in the area — said residents and business owners have been dealing with myriad issues for years, including drugs and prostitution. The addition of a Wawa, Gray says, would exacerbate the problems.

“This neighborhood was supposed to be the up and coming area,” she said. “We were sold that dream. Now, most of those homeowners have abandoned that dream and moved to the suburbs.”

Some concerns surrounding the proposed project include increased drug dealing and prostitution, traffic and congestion and the demise of small area businesses that may be unable to compete with a huge corporate brand like Wawa.

“A Wawa would attract drug dealers and prostitution,” Gray said. “We have been fighting prostitution and drug dealers since I moved here 10 years ago. Prostitutes were turning tricks on my front lawn.”

But the sex trade has moved further north, said Gray, and residents of the area want to keep it that way.

According to Gray, a representative from a prostitution advocacy organization attended the planning board meeting.

“They have been working hard to get prostitutes off the street,” she said of the advocacy group. “Having a Wawa is yet another opportunity for these young women to be exploited. They are victims as well.”

A community meeting with Wawa representatives and community leaders was held last month to discuss the project — a meeting that Gray says was fruitless.

“At the so-called meeting that was really a pep rally, they told us that the road was a state road and was not their road,” Gray said.

Munirah Bomani, a resident and former business owner in the Lower Broadway area, claims that community input was not sought from leaders.

“Any type of redevelopment should have community input,” Bomani said. “A lot of the development that has taken place under this leadership hasn't had too much community input. Our voice has kind of been pushed to the side. It creates tension.”

But Khalil Nass, chief of staff for Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins, said that input was actively sought and that last month's community meeting was attended by approximately some 50 residents and business owners in support of the project.

“The meeting was well-attended by supporters,” said Nass, who added that four council members were there, along with representatives of other members of council. “The majority of the folks want the Wawa."

Bomani said that many are concerned that area mom and pop establishments will be put out of business.

“They already have several gas stations there,” she said. “I would be outraged as a business person. Wawa will affect these small businesses.”

Nass that while detractors of the project are certainly allowed to voice their opposition, they are not representative of the community.

"We are both development and community-friendly," he said. "We support the development of the Wawa, along with our council colleagues, and we also support what the community’s wishes are. This project has overwhelming support. We are governed by what the community says,” he said.

Gray said she believes that Wawa was in the dark until last night’s meeting.

“I got the impression that Wawa was not aware of these issues,” she said.

Gray lauded the outcome of the meeting in the group's Facebook post.

“After outstanding testimony from homeowners, small business and even a prostitutes’ rights organization, Wawa asked for a postponement of their application,” read the post. “Great job residents and small business against Wawa.”

Gray said she hopes Wawa will abandon ship.

"I'm hoping that Wawa walks away from the deal," she said. "Anyone over there who sells food or gas will be put out of business."

A message left for Oliveira was not returned. In addition, a request for comment from Wawa representatives was not immediately returned.

The proposed site in Newark is not the only location Wawa has faced opposition from residents as it seeks to expand into North Jersey from its South Jersey base.

In Scotch Plains, the Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously in March 2016 to deny Wawa the variance it sought to build a 5,000-square-foot gas station-convenience store combination on Route 22, also a state highway.

During seven often contentious meetings, the board heard testimony from traffic experts, engineers, urban planners, Wawa officials and vocal residents, who were represented by a attorney.


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Westfield Teen Leads Effort to Create Union County March for Our Lives

March 19, 2018

UNION, NJ – Students from all over Union County will be walking from Burnet Middle School to Town Hall on Saturday morning, March 24, in an anti-gun violence march.

Led by steering committee chairman Colin Sumner, the march, which has the support of Senator Joseph Cryan, Moms Demand Action, Union County Chapter and the Union County Freeholders, is not aimed at taking away guns, but ...

Mayor Brindle’s Update, Feb. 13

March 14, 2018

The following are highlights from the update that Mayor Shelley Brindle gave at Tuesday night’s town council meeting.

Last week’s back to back nor’easters left a wave of destruction that Westfield hasn’t experienced since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Three thousand homes lost power. Over 40 roads were closed due to downed wires and/or trees. Our police responded to ...

Upcoming Events


Mon, March 19, 7:30 PM

Board of Education Building, Westfield

Westfield Board of Education Meeting



Fri, March 23, 12:00 PM

Resolve, Scotch Plains

Free Teen Anxiety Group (Ages 14-17) at Resolve

Sat, March 24, 10:00 AM

Burent Middle School , Union

Union County Wide - March for Our Lives

Government Law & Justice

Westfield Police Blotter: DWI, Reported Fraud & More

March 14, 2018

March 7, 2018 2:06 a.m.

Carlos C. Mendoza, age 33, of Garwood, NJ, was arrested on the strength of three Westfield Municipal Court warrants ($750) pursuant to a traffic stop in the area of South Avenue in Scotch Plains. Subject was transported to Westfield Police HQ where he was processed and refused after posting bail.


March 9, 2018 2:09 p.m.

A resident of Sandra Circle ...

Christopher Dean Band to Play at Westfield Memorial Library

March 19, 2018

The Christopher Dean Band will play at the Westfield Memorial Library on Wednesday, April 4 at 7:00 p.m. The library is located at 550 East Broad Street.

The Christopher Dean Band is a regional blues/soul band based out of the Central New Jersey area, working up and down the East coast year round. Christopher Dean fronts the group, playing guitar and singing lead vocals.

Dean, who was ...

Gratitude Goes to the Girls! Mindful Monday Series - # 1

March 19, 2018

I am thrilled to launch our first edition of "Mindful Mondays" today!  Why Mindful Mondays? After several years of working with individuals in a variety of settings, many have asked me: "What's all this mindfulness about anyway?"  I often respond with, "It's different for everyone," but in general I begin with this definition ...

16 Homes Sold Last Week in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside & Cranford

Sixteen homes sold last week, March 11 to March 18, 2018, in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside and Cranford:*


TOWN        ADDRESS                  STYLE           RMS    ...

Charitable Spirit Alive and Well in Westfield Public Schools

Students, staff and parents in Westfield Public Schools continue the district’s long tradition of helping others both in and outside of the community, with a number of students recently recognized for their efforts.

Fifteen Westfield High School juniors and sophomores were honored by the Community Food Bank of New Jersey for collecting more than 5,000 pounds of food items for families in ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


The Day After

Some years ago, the United Nations held the International Summit on Sustainable Development, here in Johannesburg. The Summit was a great success. One wonders, though, whether all the wonderful decisions and resolutions that were adopted were ever implemented. In other words, were they themselves sustainable?

Good ideas and worthwhile projects are suggested regularly. The question is, do they ...

'Trying' explores age, youth and points of history in poignant production

‘Trying’ explores youth, age and points of history in poignant production

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The George Street Playhouse presents an engrossing, two-character play based on the real life of Francis Biddle, former Attorney General.

Biddle, a Harvard educated lawyer, served under Franklin Roosevelt and later Harry Truman during the Nuremberg Tribunal. His ...

Profit from Recent Volatility with Stock Market Bargains

Markets retreated in February, the worst down month in two years. A record surge in volatility caused several ETFs designed as leveraged bets on low volatility to plunge, with at least one being forced to liquidate and hand its investors a near total loss.

The Causes of February’s Market Retreat

The initial catalyst for the sell off was inflation. The January jobs report showed ...


Kathleen Marie Christian (nee Helmstetter), age 73 of Surf City, NJ, passed away peacefully at home ...
Read more

Health Alert: Child with Measles Traveled to Newark Airport on March 12

March 15, 2018

TRENTON, NJ — If you were at Newark Liberty International Airport on Monday, March 12 between 12:45 and 9 p.m., you may have been exposed to measles and should contact your health care provider.

The New Jersey Department of Health has issued a public health alert after a child with a confirmed case of measles — a highly contagious disease — arrived in Terminal B at ...