Board Nixes Quick Chek

Board of Adjustment on Wednesday denies application to build convenience store and gas station on former State Police barracks property

Quick Chek has been sent packing.

The Board of Adjustment on Wednesday voted unanimously to deny an application by the convenience store chain to build on the site of the former State Police barracks at Allenwood Road and Route 138, ending a hearing that spanned more than a year.

There was no discussion among board members before member Wilma Morrissey offered a motion to deny the application, following more than an hour of presentation, cross-examination and public comment.

Morrissey’s motion was seconded by member Mary Burne. In succession, each member voted to deny the application. Board Chair Mary DeSarno was last.

“I have a problem mainly because it goes against the Master Plan,’’ DeSarno said. “I don’t think it’s particularly suited, mainly because it’s on an arterial road. I have great concern for the traffic in that area and the quality of life for the residents on Allenwood Road.”

The convenience store chain wanted to construct a 5,496-square-foot store and 16-pump gas station at 2101 Allenwood Road, near Route 138 east. The proposed location would be open 24-hours.

. It was immediately opposed by a vocal group of neighbors, who decried the proposal as unnecessary, burdensome to the neighborhood and that it would add to the already heavy traffic in the area.

The application was heard three more times. Each time, numerous residents opposing the plan filled the meeting room to speak against the plan. Some hired their own lawyers to represent them in their fight against the proposal.

One of a pair of lawyers who opposed the plan on Wednesday brought two witnesses on Wednesday. One came with a long list of traffic engineering acumen.

Charles Spitz, of Round Hill Court, is an architect and planner – a traffic expert who previously worked for the Monmouth County Planning Board where he in the late 1970s designed and helped implement the county’s SCAT transportation system. He also is a past president of the state Board of Architects.

Spitz said the traffic impact of the proposed site was far and away higher than the experts hired by Quick Chek had told the board. He said the site would generate upwards of 200 cars an hour onto Allenwood Road, based on previous testimony from the convenience store.

“It’s impossible for that volume of traffic to be borne by Allenwood Road,’’ Spitz said. “It just can’t happen.’’

But attorney for Quick Check, Henry Kent-Smith, on cross-examination, said Spitz was simply making up numbers and that the testimony of the applicant’s traffic expert was not inaccurate as Spitz said.

The exchange between the two was occasionally testy, with board Chair DeSarno having to step in to quiet the pair, who frequently shouted over each other.

In his closing statement, Kent-Smith said the township had a “unique opportunity’’ to create jobs and tax money during a lagging economy, as well as improve a decaying, overgrown site that was becoming an eyesore on a major thoroughfare into Wall Township.

Kent-Smith also said the township would benefit because the Quick Chek application was a non-conforming use, as opposed to the office building the site was zoned for.

“You’re actually going to have more of an impact on Allenwood Road with a permitted use than you’re ever going to have with this Quick Chek,’’ Kent-Smith said.

Not everyone agreed.

“This application should fail both on legal ground and on practical grounds,’’ said attorney for the opposition, Michael Landis. “The project is entirely contrary to your Master Plan. This is going to create a traffic nightmare.’’

Michael Farrell, of Parkwood Drive, was one of the most vocal opponents of the application. He spoke before the board’s vote.

“This will change the character of that whole corridor,’’ Farrell said. “I hope you take that into consideration.’’

Board members apparently did.

Board member Nance-Ellen Draper said that she had to take into consideration the approximately 35 people in the audience who were there to oppose the plan, and that the application did not fit the existing zoning.

“I also feel that this is an accident waiting to happen,’’ Draper said.

And Morrissey, who made the motion to deny the application, said she just didn’t think Quick Chek fit the area.

“I don’t really feel it really ties in with the suitability or the Master Plan or that it really enhances the purposes of the zoning land use law,’’ Morrissey said. “The suitability just isn’t there.’’

jerseyswamps October 18, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Good move. It's the first light for cars after a long drive on 195 or coming off the Parkway. I've seen many close calls and even some bad accidents. People stoping because a big WAWA suddenly appears will be a disaster.
Michael Ferrell October 18, 2012 at 03:51 PM
It was a long drawn out process, and the board handled it very well! They gave Quick Chek every opportunity to present all angles of their case. The board listened to the community. In the end they made a dcision based ont eh facts, and intentions of the master plan. Thanks to the board in their volunteer efforts, they put a lot of hours and sacrifice to serve our town!
Michael Ferrell October 18, 2012 at 03:52 PM
We should also thank Wall Patch for keeping us alert on this as meetings were cancelled by Quick Chek and the process dragged on!
Kathy Dweck October 18, 2012 at 04:23 PM
I could not get over the unprofessional manner in which Quik Check's attorney Kent-Smith addressed Mr. Spitz after he made his statements. Our neighbor has forty years of experience! In this small forum of local folks who are brave enough to come step in front of a microphone to then be belittled by a corporate attorney and critisised for not knowing 'proper decorum' in a public meeting, all I can say is kudos to these outstanding citizens and neighbors who came up against these corporate giants. To think that Quik Check feels it should be the 'gateway into our community' is insulting. For me, who lives down the road around the corner, it would be nice to have a Quik Check there, BUT it does not FIT! I am glad the board stuck to it's guns regarding not changing 'the use' and keeping it an Office Professional use.
Michael Ferrell October 18, 2012 at 09:30 PM
As Mr. Kent-Smith commented to me after the hearing, its not personal, its all the high drama, and its meant to make an impact on the board. I actually think it worked against QC, but it was rude.
Kathy Dweck October 18, 2012 at 09:42 PM
I absolutely agree that it worked against them and I think the 'powers that be' at the coporate office would not have agreed with his attacks!
Marty October 18, 2012 at 10:56 PM
This isn't the opening of a new museum, or a theme park, it's a gas station... You truly think that the opening of a gas station would flood the area with cars? You'd have to be pretty stupid (especially seeing this would have been located on a major highway, that intersects nearby with another highway). This vote was done in special interests, not for the benefit of the townsfolk, motorists, the economy... This is why I'm proud to say I don't live in Wall anymore. You people are in too much of a bubble.
jerseyswamps October 19, 2012 at 09:38 AM
I don't live anywhere near Wall but I travel that way. In fact sometimes I need gas when I'm getting into Wall, just like a lot of people. Go by any big WAWA. Always mobbed. Imagine all that early morning commuter traffic going buy a place with cheap gas prices. It'd be a nightmare.
Michael Ferrell October 19, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Marty, I think you are the special interests and frankly if you hate this town so much why do you bother to read about it? Take a drive to the similar store on route 35 just south of the 33/34 circle at morning rush hour. An average of 350 cars, and 50 commercial trucks per hour enter and leave that facility. Imagine all those having to exit onto Allenwood road. It isn't just a gas station, it would have been food, etc.
Nicholas Sullivan January 23, 2013 at 10:23 PM
I still feel this was a stupid decision on the towns part. When the people living in Orchard Ridge forced Peddler's Village to not have a 2nd story, it led to it becoming even more run down than before. Instead of drawing in new business and renovating, it now serves only as an eye sore. The most traffic it has gotten since was during Sandy by JCP&L. The Quick Check or any other gas station was the only thing that would want to go in to that lot, now it will just sit there, being an eye sore.


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