Following a 2 1/2-hour meeting Wednesday, the Board of Adjustment is about a one session away from voting on an application to build a Wawa convenience store and gas station on the corner of Route 34 and Hurleys Pond Road.
CJS Investments wants to combine portions of two adjoining parcels at the intersection to build a Wawa convenience store with gas station with a separate, 2,968-panel solar electricity farm behind it. The Wall-based company finished up their pitch on the Wawa and is scheduled to begin testimony on the solar farm. That was scheduled for May 2.
CJS called several witnesses, including a planner, a traffic engineer, a Wawa real estate expert and John Caruso, an owner of CJS investments.
Caruso said his company had won approval from the township to construct two office buildings on the site several years ago. But because of economic difficulties and because the site is ill-suited for an office environment, his company has never developed the property.
Caruso said the property, betwixt Wall Stadium and Monmouth Executive Airport, suffers from noise, air traffic and sight problems that make it a poor candidate for the use of the approvals the town previously approved.
“They (the airport and the stadium) hurt it substantially,’’ Caruso said. “It’s not suitable for an office building of that caliber. The approvals we have are worthless.’’
Not all board members agreed.
“Are you aware that there is a residential neighborhood very near your property?’’ Board Chairwoman Mary DeSarno said later in the meeting. “I don’t think your argument that the site is too noisy is a good one.’’
David MacDonald, who identifies potential sites for Wawa, testified that the airport traffic and the noise from the stadium were not a concern for Wawa and that the site meets all of Wawa’s needs.
The site was at a controlled intersection, near the Garden State Parkway ramps, daytime traffic with workforce populations and the site’s neighbors were seen as positive for a successful Wawa store, MacDonald said.
The Wawa store on northbound Route 34 just up the road from the proposed Hurleys Pond Road site also was not a detriment to the proposed facility, he said.
“We view these sites as complimentary,’’ MacDonald said. “It’s great when you have an opportunity to have a site that meets so many criteria.’’
Jack Taylor, manager of Monmouth Executive Airport, opposes the plan. Taylor gave the board a letter from the state Department of Transportation that said the proposed Wawa could possibly present a danger to the airport if above-ground storage tanks were used.
Representatives for CJS said all gasoline storage tanks would be below ground, but Martin said he still objected because of the frequency of tractor-trailer gasoline truck deliveries.
Several board members also criticized as insufficient portions of the testimony of Nathan Mosely, traffic engineer for the applicant, saying the studies done in support of the Wawa ignored summer traffic increases and did not account for traffic generated by Wall speedway.
CJS representatives concluded their testimony on the Wawa on Wednesday. The company will continue its pitch May 2, focusing on the unmanned solar farm. A vote on both portions of the application may take place at the next meeting, board members said.