P&Z deliberates again on Stop & Shop gas station but still no vote

The Monroe Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) continued to deliberate the Stop & Shop gas station proposed for Route 111 at its Thursday night meeting, but took no vote.

Land-use staff wants to further determine exactly what steps need to be taken to deal with the environmental intervener in the case, and to get more details from P&Z members on why the application might meet the standards for approval.

“We’re not exactly sure what we have to do when an intervener is involved,” said Town Planning Administrator Will Agresta. He said it may be necessary to come up with “a finding” on the information presented by the intervener — essentially, concluding there would be a limited impact on natural resources — before voting on the matter.

Attorney Keith Ainsworth met the criteria to become an intervener in the case, which means he is essentially a third party in the process (with the applicant and P&Z being the other two parties). Ainsworth also is an attorney for the Prushko family that owns the Shell gas station next to the proposed Stop & Shop site.

 

Five members expected to vote

So far during deliberations, two members — Chairman Patrick J. O’Hara and Vice Chairman William W. Porter — have indicated they support the application while member James Weinberg has voiced his opposition.

The other two voting members on the application will be Cathleen Lindstrom and Brian Quinn. The P&Z has five members and three alternates, and up to five members can vote on an application. With five members expected to vote on the Stop & Shop proposal, three votes would be needed for approval.

Quinn offered limited comments at the Thursday meeting while Lindstrom said the potential traffic impact concerns her. “I see the potential for a real logjam,” said Lindstrom, who said she has noticed large gas stations can generate extensive vehicle trips in and out of the facilities.

She said a new gas station could “compound” an already bad traffic situation in the area, and “part of our job” as P&Z members is to consider the impact on traffic conditions.

 

About the proposal

Stop & Shop wants to build a 10-pump gas station on Route 111, slightly north of Cross Hill Road. The 528 Monroe Tpke. site is not adjacent to the Stop & Shop supermarket but is just north of the Rite Aid.

The Beardsley Brook passes through the property as does an intermittent waterway.

Two underground fuel tanks would hold 30,000 gallons and 10,000 gallons, with about one fuel delivery per day.

The 1.9-acre property, now vacant, is contaminated from prior use as a home heating oil depot but has undergone some remediation.

Many neighbors, especially those on Cross Hill Road and Brookside Drive, are opposed to the project due to concerns about the possible impact on wells, septic systems and flooding.

The station would require two curb cuts on Route 111. The southern one, toward Rite Aid, would be for both entering and exiting. The northern entrance, toward the Goodwill store, would be for exiting to the right only (to head north on Route 111).

 

Environmental issues

Weinberg continued to express environmental concerns about the project at the meeting. He said some contaminant levels on the property have gotten worse in recent years, based on environmental reports, and this leaves him wondering if these contaminants are coming from an off-site source.

He wants to determine where these contaminants — such as MTBE and petroleum hydrocarbons — came from in the past and are coming from now. Weinberg said contamination levels should be going down because the home heating oil depot closed many years ago and there have been various remediation efforts through the years.

 

Digging into the ground

Weinberg worries that digging 15 feet into the ground to bury the two underground gas storage tanks will disturb the soil and groundwater, and therefore the contaminants. He said other kinds of development likely would not require digging so deeply into the ground.

“I don’t get the feeling we understand what the heck is going on with his property,” Weinberg said.

Some other P&Z members noted that all water and soil that will be pumped up or dug up during development would be removed off-site. Porter stressed the underground storage tank work will be “in a very localized area.”

 

Aquarion letter

Weinberg also said it’s important to consider the letter from Aquarion Water Co. opposing the project due to its potential impact on the region’s water quality.

O’Hara said he was “unhappy” with the Aquarion letter because it was sent to the Inland Wetlands Commission before the proposal was altered based on environmental recommendations, and did not represent a specific “response” to the P&Z.

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