This past Monday evening, the hearings for a proposed Quick Chek in Howell continued as attorney Henry Kent-Smith, of the firm Fox-Rothchild LLP, concluded his testimony for the convenience and gas location.
At the five prior meetings on this matter, Kent-Smith, representing Quick Chek and the location’s owner, Dale Long, talked about the need for a traffic light at the corner of Route 33 and Colts Neck Road. This light would alleviate traffic near the desired location for the Quick Chek.
For this particular meeting, Kent-Smith began by noting that he was finished with bringing forth his professionals for the Quick Chek case, and gave a brief statement saying the traffic light would again be a priority prior to building a Quick Chek.
He noted that the representatives for Quick Chek actually sent a traffic light design recently to the New Jersey Department of Transportation, and the NJ DOT has approved this design.
“The design is already approved, so if this application is approved, then the traffic light could go in as soon as possible,” he said.
Ronald Gasiorowski, the attorney in opposition to the Quick Chek, representing local gas station owner Felix Bruselovsky, quickly noted to the zoning board members that he was hopeful that the board members would not approve the Quick Chek just on the “promise of a traffic light.”
“I have to object to this theory that the board will be swayed by a traffic signal,” he said. “However, if this applicant does not receive approval, the push for the traffic signal should go on.”
Following his statements, Gasiorowski then got the opportunity to present his case to the board. Prior to beginning his testimony, however, board attorney Ronald Troppoli noted that Gasiorowski had not given copies of his research and documents to the board members prior to the meeting. Gasiorowski said he had copies for all the board members that he could give to them during the meeting, but Troppoli explained the board members needed time to review the material prior to it being brought into the record.
After a brief discussion, all parties agreed that Troppoli would get the opportunity during this meeting to cross examine Kent-Smith’s professionals, and then at the next meeting, he would bring his professionals to explain his side of the matter, along with the material given to all the board members.
The first professional that was cross-examined was Frank Marciano, the Real Estate Manager for the Quick Chek. Marciano said he had been employed by Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonalds previously to Quick Chek.
When asked how the particular location for the site came about in Howell, Marciano explained he was asked to look on Rt. 9 for a site. He said he then found a spot for the gas station on Rt. 33, due to the amount of traffic seen at the location.
When asked about the fact that Quick Chek would be a hybrid convenience store and gas station, Mr. Marciano explained this hybrid style has been a trend all over the state.
“What basis do you have to say that,” Gasiorowski asked, to which Marciano replied just by looking at the evolution of Wawa, you could easily see that there are more hybrid gas/convenience stores all over New Jersey.
This hybrid gas/convienance store is an issue because Quick Chek needs a use variance because construction of a gas station is not permitted in the proposed HD-3 Zone.
Gasiorowski said looking at statistics, it is clear that the sales of gas are going down, and he wanted to know why Quick Chek thought another gas station in Howell was necessary.
“How can you demonstrate the need for another gas station,” he asked.
Marciano said he thought there was absolutely a need for another gas station in the area, at which point, Kent-Smith stepped in and said Marciano should not have to answer those questions as he is not a zoning expert.
After a bit more cross-examination from Gasiorowski, the members of the zoning board agreed to hold their next meeting on the Quick Chek matter on Monday, June 6 at 8 p.m. at Howell Borough Hall. The meeting is open to the public.