Marlboro resident asks board to reject Wawa plan

The Marlboro Township Vision Plan opens with the following goal: “Create a sustainable, livable and healthy community where social, economic and environmental interests are balanced, active lifestyles are promoted, and a diverse culture and local heritage are
celebrated.”

This goal was stated in 2010 and since that time the mayor, the Township Council, the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Adjustment have worked hard to keep to this mission.

A lot of open space has been preserved and a lot of pushback has been placed on proposals that would have negatively impacted our community.

Recently, the township had to acquiesce, after a lot of effort, to a 105-unit residential development on Route 79 by Stevenson Drive. This development will add more congestion in a section of town that was open land.

The Marlboro Zoning Board of Adjustment has scheduled a Sept. 22 meeting, via WebX, to review plans to build a Wawa convenience store, an eight-bay Wawa gas station and a 22,000-square-foot medical building on Route 79 just south of Route 520, and a short distance from the newly approved development at Stevenson Drive.

The entrance to the site will be a driveway on Route 79 just north of the entrance to St. Gabriel’s Church.

The proposed Wawa gas station would be built a few hundred feet away from an existing Raceway gas station at the corner of Route 79 and Route 520. The Raceway gas station is not moving.

The proposed medical building would be built within a very short distance from three other medical buildings. Two of those buildings were recently built.

Part of the plan that will be heard on Sept. 22 includes using Meglio Drive, off Route 520, as an entrance and exit from the back of the lot.

To me, this proposal totally goes against the Vision Plan for the township. A livable and healthy community is one with stress-free conditions, not one where traffic will build up to unreasonable levels.

The intersection of Route 79 and Route 520 is already congested. At rush hour and at school hours, the traffic on Route 79 backs up from the Route 520 traffic light north up to Pleasant Valley Road (about a half-mile) and another half-mile south.

A sustainable community is one that is safe. The existing Wawa convenience store at the corner of Route 79 and Route 520 is on the same side of Route 79 as Marlboro High School.

Each day, that Wawa is jammed with students buying snacks and meals. In the new plan, the students will have to cross a busy Route 79 to reach Wawa. This is not safe.

Our community is already at a point of having too much space dedicated to retail properties.

The three other medical buildings on Route 520 are not currently filled and there is a two-story office building a few miles north on Route 79, across from the Camelot residential development, that has been empty for a few years.

How are the town’s economic interests balanced when a gas station is built a few hundred feet from another gas station, and when another office building is built when we currently have office space unoccupied?

The zoning board may not be obligated to review traffic conditions, but the township’s board certainly is responsible for reviewing the overall impact of a plan like this. Therefore, I urge Marlboro to reject this proposal and try to support our town’s Vision Plan.

Ron Murray
Marlboro