No decision was made regarding Quick Chek's application to open a new location with the addition of a gas station further down Main Street.
After three hours of testimony, the Matawan Unified Planning/Zoning Board had to continue the application to Monday, March 4. Local ordinance prohibits municipal meetings from going past 10 p.m. in the borough.
Quick Chek presented three witnesses during Wednesday's hearing, including a real estate manager, an engineer and a traffic expert.
The Real Estate
Frank Marciano, a real estate manager for Quick Chek, explained that the convenience store's current location at 58 Main Street is a rental and the lease terminates in November 2015. The company, he said, is unable to make the desired improvements as a tenant.
"The evolution of the convenience store business basically requires the implementation of the gas fueling facility. We have, I believe, a very unique and good opportunity with this application today," Marciano said.
Marciano explained that the company wants to open about 600 feet down Main Street toward the train station in the parking lot at the intersection of High Street, directly across from the old 7-11 building.
There they would like to open a new 4,543 square foot convenience store as well as a gas station with four gas pumps, or eight fueling stations. The current location is about 3,500 square feet and has no gas station.
The larger space would require additional employees. Marciano estimated that there are currently about six and that at least 12 would be necessary. He also estimated that during a peek shift, about seven to nine employees would be working at one time.
Keith Cahill, a professional engineer with Bohler Engineering, explained that the property is 0.85 acres. It is bordered by Main Street, High Street, Bank Street and a barber shop. Bank Street is a very thin roadway that intersects High Street where two homes and Fitness City are located. The proposed location is a parking lot covered 100% by asphalt in close proximity to the Aberdeen-Matawan Train Station.
The plans include 27 parking stalls were 26 are required by local ordinance, new sidewalks along Main Street and High Street, and 5,000 square feet of landscaping mostly bordering the property. The new green space would account for 11.7% of the property where 35% is required by local ordinance. Cahill also noted that the entire property, including the sidewalks, would be ADA compliant.
Between the convenience store and Bank Street there would be a location for trash. There is also an eight foot solid board fence proposed between the property and Bank Street to provide privacy for residents, Cahill explained.
Quick Chek plans to make the property capable of running on a diesel generator in case of an emergency like Hurricane Sandy. Cahill said the company would rent generators as needed from a contracted company. If they were rented, they would likely be kept behind the convenience store in the vicinity of the dumpster. Cahill noted that there would still be enough room for a garbage removal service to access the dumpster if the generator was present.
Four underground double wall fiber glass gas tanks would be located at the back of the property, near the corner of Bank Street and High Street. Each of the four tanks would be capable of holding 20,000 gallons of fuel. Two would hold regular, one premium and one diesel.
The location of the gas tanks provides easy access by fuel delivery trucks, Cahill explained. Fuel is delivered on an as-needed basis but generally does not happen between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. as the trucking company typically does not operate between those hours, he said.
The company also intends to install a drainage system with an oil/water separator in order to reduce any runoff from the property, which sits close to Matawan Creek.
The security system would be capable of 32 digital cameras, Cahill explained. Typically, about 16 are stationed inside and 16 outside. Since the property is smaller than other Quick Cheks, the actually number of cameras may be slightly lower, he said.
The lighting on the property would provide some additional security, he said. All of the lights are LED and positioned in a way to reduce light pollution. Lights are affixed to the building, 18.5 foot tall light posts are in the parking area and lights are in the gas pump canopies.
Two entrances are proposed for the property, one on Main Street and one on High Street, explained Charles Olivo, the applicant's traffic expert. The entrance on Main Street would allow drivers to make a left or right into the lot, but would only allow drivers to make a right out of the parking lot. The entrance on High Street would allow drivers to make a left or right into or out of the parking lot.
Main Street is a county road and according to Olivo, Quick Chek has obtained conditional approval for the entrance from the county and state departments of transportation.
Olivo estimated that 90% of the traffic using Quick Chek would have been traffic already traveling on Main Street, especially because a Quick Chek is already located in the direct area.
Mike Vaccarella, a resident of High Street, was concerned that loitering issues would persist at the new location.
"Obviously the 7-11 is closed for a reason. It's very obvious to the people living in that community down there that the area has been blighted because of some of these issues," he said. "What is Quick Chek's policy against the day laborers who loiter in the area? I heard you said the managers will do that, there will be signs, there will be training for the staff but what is going to be the overall policy?"
Marciano, Quick Chek's real estate manager, explained that having ownership of their property allows the company to respond more strongly to issues of loitering in general. He also noted that employees are trained to instruct anyone who is loitering that they have their image recorded on a camera and will call the police.
"We have an invested interest. We will control this property from an ownership standpoint and we will be happy to work with law enforcement officials for any issues that may occur," he said.
The Next Step
Due to time constraints, the Matawan Unified Planning/Zoning Board was required to carry the application to Monday, March 4 at 7 p.m. at the Matawan Municipal Community Center (201 Broad Street). Quick Chek's designated planner will offer her testimony at the meeting and there will be another opportunity for public comment.