A will not be built at the corner of Route 33 and Colts Neck Road, despite a majority vote in favor of the project.
The applicant failed to achieve five affirmative votes Monday from the Howell zoning Board of Adjustment, which denied the project by a 4-3 margin. A supermajority is necessary to pass the use variances sought by Quick Chek, which was before the board for the ninth time Monday.
Board members expressed concern with the potential impact of constructing the store and gas station, which would have required a use variance due to the area's zoning restrictions.
Attorney Henry Kent-Smith of the firm Fox-Rothchild LLP, representing Quick Chek, began by questioning Alexander Kitwornia, a traffic consultant brought in by Ronald Gasiorowski, an attorney representing local gas station owner Felix Bruselovsky.
Kent-Smith questioned Kitwornia for more than an hour, leading into a debate on the of the Quick Chek, as well as the need for a traffic signal where the Quick Chek would be located. Following more debate and a brief recess, four local residents took to the microphone and expressed their opinions. Please see related story for feedback from residents.
Following the residents' remarks, the attorneys had one final chance to plead their case before the zoning board.
Gasiorowski said he found it interesting that no local members of the community came out to support the application.
“You as the zoning board are the conscience of the community, and I find it interesting no one in the community was in favor of this application,” he said.
He then addressed the traffic signal and referenced Greek mythology to punctuate his point.
“Remember the story about the Sirens?” Gasiorowski said, referring to the mythical creatures who used songs to seduce sailors into coming over to them, only to get shipwrecked. “Well the applicants are singing a song about a traffic signal, and they are luring you into a situation that will create much traffic in the local neighborhood.”
Kent-Smith said he was hopeful the board would grant the application, saying the Quick Chek would bring a great deal of money to the neighborhood in “tough economic times.
“The bottom line here is that this Quick Chek will enhance the community, and the applicant should be applauded for making this kind of investment and creating jobs,” he said. “So we ask the board approves the variance and grants this application tonight.”
Board member Wendell Nanson said he thought a Quick Chek would be beneficial.
“I think we should approve this application, and the site is suitable for the use that the applicants are asking of us,” he said.
Nanson made the motion to approve this application, which was seconded by vice chairman David Sirna.
“I agree with Mr. Nanson,” Sirna said, adding he believed adding a traffic signal to the intersection would be a huge help, and the Quick Chek would work well in the borough.
However, those were the last votes heard in favor of the application on the dais for a few minutes, as board members John Armata, Stephen Meier and Valerie Morone all voted against the application.
Armata was first to speak, explaining he felt the variances requested were too much, and there would be way too much traffic caused a Quick Chek.
Meier agreed, adding that he did not feel the applicant did a sufficient job of explaining why the Quick Chek would work in the location they sought.
Morone thanked the applicants, saying their testimony was very informative, but she did not feel all her concerns about the application were addressed, and she too voted no.
Nanson, Sirna, Thomas O’Donnell and zoning board chairman John Van Noy all voted for the applications approval. However since they did not get the minimum five votes needed to approve this application, it was denied.