Proposed Quick Chek Debate Continues in Butler
Planning board hears final testimony from Quick Chek planner and traffic engineer.
In a continuation of last month's Butler Planning Board meeting, Quick Chek planner and landscape architect John McDonough and traffic engineer Charles Olivo testified before the board and Butler residents Thursday on behalf of the application for the proposed convenience store and gas station complex on Route 23, between Boonton and Bartholdi Avenues.
The meeting began with McDonough's testimony about the appearance and function of the site in terms of the impact the Quick Chek Mega Gas would have on its residential neighbors. He was questioned by David Dickson, whose clients object to the proposed site.
McDonough's testimony focused on the concerns of Butler residents living near the proposed site. He explained the rationale for the proposed perpendicular positioning of the convenience store building and the impact this had in determining the creation of 10-foot buffering zones in the plans.
"We went through many iterations of the placement of the building and this [position] was the best solution for a multitude of factors," he said. "The arrangement does not just benefit Quick Chek."
McDonough went on to discuss how the proposed Quick Chek Mega Gas complex will improve the visual environment with buffering, setbacks and landscaping, stating that the site would provide more light, air and open space for residential neighbors.
Dickson's questions for McDonough also addressed whether the proposed Quick Chek Mega Gas would be appropriate for the lot and if there was another possible location along Route 23 for the site. McDonough replied that the fact that the property in question was zoned for heavy use and that the other potential sites along Route 23 were unsatisfactory made the contested location between Bartholdi Avenue and Boonton Avenue the ideal spot for the complex.
Butler resident Bob Norman disagreed with McDonough's interpretation, pointing out what he labeled as some flaws that might impede the success of the proposal.
"I don't like it in its present form. They don't have acceleration lanes or decceleration lanes and the building is too big. If they had a better plan, there would be no objections. Except from the neighbors, maybe," he said.
He was not the only resident concerned. Jerry Allison and Janice Harper-Young spoke during the public portion of the meeting about the noise of the complex and the aesthetic impact the convenience store building could have on its neighbors along Lafayette Avenue.
Olivo discussed the safety concerns of exiting from the complex on to the highway, focusing on how the proposed site plan fulfills New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) standards for the minimum amount of sight distance along the road. Concerns that situations might arise which would require sight distance of 530 feet prompted regular board members Jim Brown and John Donnelly to ask about the applicant's plans for landscape maintenance and snow removal, which can both obstruct a driver's view of oncoming traffic, if left unattended.
Olivo finished his testimony by responding that the landscaping near Route 23 can be changed from grass to gravel and that all businesses along the highway face the problem of high snow drifts.
"It's up to the drivers to be careful," he said.
At the end of last night's hearing, the applicant's representatives requested to carry the hearing to the next planning board meeting, which will take place on Aug. 18 at 7:30 pm. In discussing the upcoming hearings, Board Attorney John Barbarula estimated that the process may last until the November meeting.