Testimony will continue on proposed used car dealership in Howell


HOWELL – Testimony is expected to resume on Dec. 3 on an applicant’s proposal to establish a used car dealership on Route 9 south in Howell.

The application is before the Howell Planning Board.

The applicant, Omnicos Realty Inc., and the owner, Robertsville Development Co., LLC, are seeking preliminary and final major site plan approval to construct a sales facility for used cars on Route 9 south between West Farms Road and White Street.

According to the application, there are two phases of construction proposed: phase one would consist of a 2,400-square-foot sales building and an attached 2,000-square-foot, four-bay maintenance building; and phase two would consist of an attached 2,400-square-foot, six-bay maintenance building.

Attorney Vincent Halleran represented the application at the board’s Nov. 5 meeting.

John Soukas, a principal of the applicant, said he has been a Howell resident since 1987. He said that in 2015 he purchased All Sales Auto Group (now AutoPik.com) which is on Route 9 north. He said that site is in poor condition and he told the board members he wants to move to the proposed location on Route 9 south.

Engineer Bruce Jacobs described the two phases of construction for the board members, He said phase one would consist of the construction of a sales building and a maintenance garage, and phase two, which he said would follow in about five years, would consist of the construction of a second maintenance garage.

Access to the business will be from Route 9.

“It is proposed to have a display area for 179 cars, primarily on the northern portion of the site. There is a small display area of seven parking spaces … at the southeast corner of the site … those (seven spaces) will be specific to showcasing a particular vehicle or something like that,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs said the application complies with all of the conditional use requirements of Howell’s municipal ordinances.

Environmental consultant David Poling testified that his involvement with the Route 9 south site dates back to about 2005, when he reviewed wetlands issues. He said other consultants have examined the property dating back to 2002 and told the board members there is a level of contamination present that is being addressed.

“When I was brought on I did additional work to basically verify there was not any other contamination. We did find additional contamination on the site.

“Specifically, there is an area in the back that is contaminated from Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) from a detention pond that is fed from Route 9. There is large area … that has construction debris in it,” Poling said.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are a class of chemicals that occur naturally in coal, crude oil and gasoline. They are also produced when coal, oil, gas, wood, garbage and tobacco are burned. PAHs generated from these sources can bind to or form small particles in the air. High-temperature cooking will form PAHs in meat and in other foods. Naphthalene is a PAH that is produced commercially in the United States to make other chemicals and mothballs. Cigarette smoke contains many PAHs, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Poling said tests of the ground water and the soil around the construction debris showed the ground water is not contaminated, “but the construction debris, including asphalt pavement, is still an issue because it is a contaminant.”

The applicant is proposing engineering controls for the project.

“We already have an engineering control which is the fencing around the site to prohibit access to the rear of the site. As far as the construction debris and the asphalt, that is to be removed, mainly because in a detention pond it has to be excavated,” Poling said.

He said the site has impacted some wetlands, but he testified that the applicant has approval from the state for the impact and encroachment.

“It is a unique site because it is already highly disturbed so you are not losing good wildlife habitat or vegetation. From that standpoint it is probably one of the better sites that could be used because of its current condition,” Poling said.

The board is expected to continue its review of the proposed project on Dec. 3.