Quick Chek's application to build a new convenience store and gas station about 600 feet down Main Street from their current location was denied Monday by the Matawan Unified Planning/Zoning Board.
After the board was satisfied with every aspect of the application aside from the freestanding signage, the discussion came down to whether or not a gas station was an appropriate use in such close proximity to the train station, which the borough had previously designated as a redevelopment zone.
Through some back and forth discussion between the board's attorney, an engineer present on behalf of the borough and a planner present on behalf of Quick Chek, it was determined that the borough last defined the area surrounding the train station as transit village redevelopment zone in 2003. That determination must be redesignated by the borough every ten years.
At the same time, the borough's adopted master plan and land use plan also indicate a desire to redevelop the area surrounding the train station.
The state provides guidelines for developing a transit-oriented area that also serve as qualifiers for transit redevelopment area programs and grants. These guidelines detail appropriate and inappropriate land uses within the designated area, the borough representatives explained. The state discourages businesses that promote the use of cars, such as gas stations and auto repair centers, and encourage businesses that promote foot traffic and mass transit, such as coffee shops and hotels.
Christine Cofone, of Cofone Consulting Group, LLC who testified as a planner on behalf of Quick Chek, contended that the Quick Chek convenience store would help serve the borough's goal to revitalize the area.
"One of the things revitalization looks for, is it looks for properties that are underproducing, properties that are not producing to their fullest potential to be redeveloped and revitalized. This property is currently a surface level parking lot with 100 percent impervious coverage," she said. "This application does bring revitalization, it brings jobs and it redevelops this under-utilized property."
The board ultimately determined that a land use variance called a D1 variance was necessary to approve the site plan.
When voting on the land use variance, four board members voted for and two board members voted against approving it. Although the majority of board members voted for the variance, five votes were required to approve it, board attorney Mike Irene explained.
Without the approval of the variance, the application was unable to advance further in front of the unified planning/zoning board.
Quick Chek has the right to appeal the application. John Marmora, the lawyer representing Quick Chek, said he would need to consult with his client before knowing whether or not they would appeal.
To learn more about the details of Quick Chek's application, click here.