We read the article “Revised plan for Wawa gas station will continue in June” (Sentinel, April 27). The article did not fairly represent what occurred at the public hearing in North Brunswick on April 18. It was postponed by the Zoning Board after numerous residents voiced their concerns about traffic and ground and water pollution. The board decided not to vote pending further information to be produced by Wawa at a second public hearing on June 20.
A large number of residents from Delta Court, Cozzens Lane and Franklin Township, including Suydam Farms, attended the public hearing and provided testimony in opposition to changing the township ordinance which currently does not allow a gas station in this area. A review of the public hearing video, available on the North Brunswick Township website, reveals that residents have valid reasons to oppose the gas station due to quality of life, public safety, environmental and decreased property value concerns, among other issues.
The article mentions that Wawa reduced the size of the original plan for the convenience store by 300 square feet. It failed to detail that they moved the dumpster from inside the building to a freestanding walled-in dumpster near the property line of Delta Court residents. This means the square feet inside the store has been reduced, but not the total square feet, due to the addition of an outside dumpster plus the convenience store.
Although Wawa claims they want to provide a gas station to better serve its current customers and not to increase traffic to the area, we are told that parking was reduced from 52 to 45 spaces with no regard for oversized vehicles. The oversized spaces will be eliminated. The oversized vehicles that use Wawa include township school buses, township Public Works trucks, landscaping vehicles, etc. There will be nowhere for these vehicles to park. We are afraid that they will start parking on Delta Court, blocking access or using multiple single parking spaces to accommodate oversized vehicles, cutting an already-reduced parking lot and making it harder for the 18-wheel gasoline delivery trucks to go around the building as they have proposed, which is going to be very hard to do as the plans now show. This was the main complaint by the Zoning Board at the special meeting on Oct. 25: that the lot was too small to accommodate everything that Wawa was asking for.
There is a township school bus stop on Delta Court and Cozzens Lane. There are children who live and play and ride their bicycles on Delta Court directly behind the Wawa. Scientific studies indicate that even minimal gas spilling while filling vehicles over time, and fumes, cause cancer. There are two residents in close proximity to the proposed underground gas storage tanks and to the pumps who still have residential wells used for our drinking water and supply.
There have been no road improvements to this section of Cozzens Lane. There are no sidewalks and no shoulder from the corner of Delta Court to Wedgewood Drive. The No Passing sign on Cozzens Lane near Delta Court is not enforced.
Wawa claims we need this gas station in this area when there are already seven gas stations from How Lane to Finnegans Lane on Route 27. The area is not underserviced in gas stations. When we asked Wawa at the public hearing about the new Wawa gas station under construction on Route 27 and Beekman Road, as well as the new Wawa gas station on Route 27 in Franklin, we were told that Beekman Road was still a project under consideration and nothing was happening on site. However, two large “Wawa Coming Soon” signs were posted three weeks ago, and many construction vehicles have been busy digging and working on the site. Contrary to what Wawa told the Zoning Board – and the public – that Wawa will not demolish and rebuild or remodel any of their other convenience stores unless they include gas stations, we learned from a Delta Court resident at a public hearing that there are two Wawas in Monroe – one recently remodeled and the other completely rebuilt – that do not have gas stations.
Our neighborhood is comprised of people from all different backgrounds, yet we are the same. We listen. We hardworking people moved to North Brunswick because we believed in a better community and life to raise our families. That’s why we chose North Brunswick. We knew when we purchased our homes that this area was not zoned for a gas station. Our neighbors who attended teh meeting included mothers and fathers with their children who attend North Brunswick schools, homeowners who came to the meeting after working long hours commuting to and from New York City, parents who work nights but sacrificed sleep and time to attend the meeting because they care about the health and safety of their families and neighborhood. Some have lived here 20 or more years, some less. For some, this is our retirement community.
We believe the North Brunswick Township government represents us and will care about the needs of these residents. A North Brunswick Township mission statement in part reads, “Doing so in a fashion sensitive to the multitude of cultures that make up the human fabric of our community, we will continually work to achieve and maintain the respect and cooperation of the fine citizens of our community.” We hope that North Brunswick Township will hold this true for the diversified residents of Delta Court, Cozzens Lane and our agricultural community partner, Suydam Farms.
Michael and Judith Delanoy