21 Church Street, Vernon, NJ 07462
VERNON TOWNSHIP LAND USE BOARD
REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
October 12, 2022
Call to Order
Meeting was called to order by Chairman Theobald at 7:00 p.m.
Statement of Compliance:
Pursuant to the Open Public Meetings Act, adequate notice of this Regular Meeting has been provided to the public and the press on January 17, 2022, by delivering to the press such notice and posting same at the Municipal Building.
Salute to the Flag
Chairman Theobald led the Assemblage to the Flag.
|Mayor’s Designee John Auberger||P|
|Councilmember Brian Lynch||NP|
|Kelly Mitchell Alternate #1||P|
|Joseph Tadrick Alternate #2||NP|
|Paul Mele Alternate #3||NP|
|Mark Vizzini Alternate #4||NP|
Steve Tombalakian, Board Attorney
Cory Stoner, Board Engineer
Jessica Caldwell, Board Planner
Kimberley Decker, Board Secretary
Chairman Theobald stated Members Tadrick, Vizzini, Spoerl and Mele notified the Board of their absence.
LU# 3-22-2 – Waheguru Gas, LLC – Block 411, Lot 11, - Site Plan and Bulk Variance to convert the existing building into a convenience store with other improvements including parking and signage
Attorney Michael Selvaggi came forward on behalf of Applicant for Site Plan to convert existing building at Gas Station at 534 RT 515 into a convenience store with improvements on parking and signage. He added testimony will be presented showing application has reduced lot coverage which will no longer require a variance as initially thought. The three existing gas pumps will remain with added landscape and architectural improvements consistent with the Town Center Zone.
Board Attorney stated that Member Theobald had previous business relationship with Selvaggi’s firm but all agreed at this time no conflict exists therefore Theobald may hear the application.
Board Engineer Stoner stated waivers were requested per October 7, 2022 report but due to minor nature of the disturbance, items listed can be temporarily waived for sake of hearing application:
Board Members voted in affirmative to allow applicant to proceed with hearing.
Manjit Bajwa, owner and managing member of gas station site came forward stating application is requesting to convert his existing vehicle repair shop into convenience store to sell prepackaged foods and household items. He added while there is no loading zone specified, packaged deliveries will be made by one company by small box truck once a week during day hours and Bakery items daily in early morning. Mr. Bajwa stated there will be two employees scheduled and hours of operation will be same as gas pumps 5:00 am to 10:00 pm Monday through Saturday and 10:00 am – 10:00pm on Sundays. Garbage pickup will be same as existing.
Mr. Bajwa stated the existing U-Haul business will remain, operated by same employees, and will only have maximum of five small vans/trucks on site with dedicated parking spots. Architectural and Landscaping improvements will be made for new convenience store which will include an ATM and NJ Lottery sales.
Tyler VanderValk, Professional Engineer, from Houser Engineering, came forward on behalf of applicant and was sworn in to testify for application.
Mr. VanderValk presented colored rendering Exhibit A-1 in response to comments from Board professionals reports. He explained plans show Mountain Village attributes with natural stone look, Sherwin Williams paint colors on building with bronze trim. Mr. VanderValk added there will be one additional building sign which complies with Town Center Ordinance with added gooseneck lighting as accents. The floor plan of convenience store includes counter, shelving, an office, bathroom and storage room.
Regarding the lot coverage, Mr. VanderValk explained it is the intent to bring low level landscaping to front of building to reduce coverage to 85% eliminating need for variance. He added there will be only improvements made to exterior façade and no change to existing gas operations or building footprint. The existing parking area in back previously used for U-Haul overflow will be converted to store parking and per Board Engineer’s recommendations will be paved and striped. Mr. VanderValk added there will be an enclosed refuse area in back for employee access.
Mr. Stoner explained proposed parking spaces of sixteen (16) is adequate per Township Ordinance but noted U-Haul spaces must be designated once fully paved with excess gravel areas kept within property lines. Mr. VanderValk added existing gate in back area will be removed to allow for customer parking and access to front entrance of convenience store.
Mr. VanderValk explained applicant will provide additional landscaping in front to improve aesthetics per report comments. The applicant agreed to verify with Vernon MUA if any change of sewer allocation is required for proposed convenience store. The existing HVAC unit, oil tank and maintenance accessory structure will remain unchanged but Board recommended removal of oil tank and change to natural gas if able.
Board Engineer stated a lighting plan is required to show additional downward lighting needed in back parking area and Board approved applicant to work with Board Engineer with plan details. Mr. Stoner also noted asphalt on southwestern side of building should be removed and replaced with landscaping to prevent unauthorized parking of vehicles. Mr. VanderValk stated the canopy will remain as existing per Branding with proposal to improve pumps by adding stone bases to match building.
Ms. Caldwell explained, per October 3, 2022 report of application, applicant is proposing to convert existing garage into convenience store with is permitted use in the Town Center Redevelopment Plan. She noted applicant has revised plans to decrease lot coverage to 85% eliminating need for variance. Ms. Caldwell stated number of parking spaces and size of 10 sq. ft Building sign proposed complies with Township Ordinance. Mr. Bajwa stated name of convenience store will be “Pleasant Market” and noted there will be additional window signs including ‘NJ Lottery,’ ‘ATM’ and ‘Open’ as permitted.
Board Member Williams expressed concern that the paving of back parking lot will increase runoff on site and questioned if there was alternative. Mr. Stoner explained the proposed pavement of the back parking area will not cause additional runoff because existing 30-year-old lot was very compacted and not permeable. Mr. VanderValk explained after paving the lot, to increase permeability, a five-foot buffer with vegetative buffer will be present. Board Member Auberger stated paving the back parking lot will allow for parking overflow, be easier to plow and will be safer for customers.
Board Members questioned traffic circulation of site and questioned if customers can access convenience store from both road openings if gas pump areas are occupied. Discussion was held on possibility of drive thru on south side of building or utilizing north driveway as entrance by store customers. Mr. VanderValk stated shortening of parking spaces on north side will improve second opening for customers while traffic arrows on pavement will improve circulation. He stated no drive thru is proposed and there will be no changes to gas price sign. Mr. Stoner noted site is located on a county road and Sussex County approval is required to review application. Board Members voted if application is approved, Board Engineer Stoner has authorization to review and approve changes as presented.
Chairman Theobald opened the hearing to the Public. Seeing no one wishing to come forward, Chairman Theobald closed the hearing to the Public.
Attorney Tombalakian summarized application is a minor site plan with design waivers and no variance as testified. Board Members voted if application is approved, Board Engineer Stoner has authorization to review and approve changes made to circulation, parking, landscaping, and lighting plans as presented and discussed.
Motion: Motion to Approve LU#3-22-2 per testimony and conditions set forth was made by Mr. Williams and was seconded by Ms. Cocula.
ROLL CALL: AUBERGER: Y; WILLIAMS: Y; MCPEEK: Y; COCULA: Y; WHITAKER: Y; HALEY: Y; MITCHELL: Y; THEOBALD: Y.
Chairman Theobald opened the Meeting to the Public. Seeing no one wishing to come forward Chairman Theobald closed the Meeting to the Public.
LU# 8-22-8 – Veolia Water New Jersey – Block 463, Lot 127, - Major Site Plan with a Use and Bulk Variance for the construction of a new underground chamber to house a PFAS treatment center and above grade emergency power generator set in a sound attenuated enclosure
Eligible to vote: Williams, Spoerl, McPeek, Cocula, Whitaker, Haley, Theobald
Motion: Motion to Approve the Resolution for LU #8-22-8 was made by Ms. Cocula and was seconded by Mr. Williams.
ROLL CALL: WILLIAMS: Y; MCPEEK: Y; COCULA: Y; WHITAKER: Y; HALEY: Y; THEOBALD: Y.
Motion: Motion to Approve the Minutes of September 28, 2022 was made by Mr. Williams and was seconded by Mr. Whitaker. Board Members were All in Favor. Motion Passed.
Appendix A – escrows, board fees, bond reductions and escrow closure
escrows, board fees and bond reductions
A. Board Fees
2. Board Planner – Jessica Caldwell, J. Caldwell & Associates
3. Board Engineer – Cory Stoner, Harold E. Pellow & Associates
Motion: Motion to Approve Payment of Fees was made by Ms. Cocula and was seconded by Mr. Whitaker. Board Members were All in Favor. Motion Passed.
There being no further items of business to be conducted, a motion to adjourn was made by Mr. Auberger and was seconded by Mr. Williams. All members were in favor.
Meeting was adjourned at 8:08 p.m.
Irene Mills, Recording Secretary