The Route 9 gas station will be replaced in Howell

The short stretch of Strickland Road between Wyckoff Mills Road and Highway 9 became a long road for the applicant to get the project approved. (Photo by Mark Bator)

HOWELL – The Planning Board has voted unanimously to approve the construction of a new convenience store service station on the corner of Strickland Road and the north side of Route 9.

Back before the Planning Board, attorney Jason Tuvel appeared on behalf of the plaintiff, 7-Eleven, Inc., to outline improvements to the final plan for the major site that will bring a new 2,999 square foot convenience store and fuel six pumps. distribution area that can accommodate up to 12 vehicles. The site will feature a large canopy over the pumping areas and will have 25 parking spaces. At least one of the parking spaces will be designated as an electric vehicle (EV) charging station, with the possibility of more being converted to EV spaces in the future. Other upgrades will include a larger storm water retention pond, new light fixtures and bike racks.

Getting a final vote was a lengthy process for the plaintiff, as the company faced conflicting and conflicting regulations and orders from the Township of Howell and the New Jersey Department of Transportation. The main point of contention concerned an access driveway to the location originally planned for Strickland Road. The site had previously been described by Tuvel as “a bit of a peninsula, with three fronts” in that it lies between the roughly parallel roads of Route 9 and Wyckoff Mills Road, while being bounded to the south by a short stretch of Strickland Road. The rhomboid-shaped property is directly opposite “The Villages” residential development and just north of Woolley Fish Market.

When the claimant appeared before the Planning Board on April 1, 2021, it had cleared the Environmental Commission and expressed a desire to replace the current Exxon service station with a new convenience store and pump set. Although the original site plan encountered questions from the Planning Board regarding the lighting fixtures, the application met with stiffer opposition regarding the proposed signage.

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The corner of Wyckoff and Strickland will still have a gas station, but now it will be 7-Eleven, replacing Exxon. (Photo by Mark Bator)

“Honestly, I have to say that I think even the two canopy panels are ridiculous,” township planner Jennifer Beahm said at the hearing of the original application. “There is no reason for them. People aren’t usually that stupid. I don’t see the need at all. I have to tell you that you’re going to have your work cut out, because I don’t think you’re going to be able to justify it. It is the clutter of the panels that is useless.

However, in order to comply with township ordinances at this time, an entrance to the property was required on the site from a perpendicular carriageway, which would have been Strickland Road. While the original site plan complied with city ordinances, it later violated the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT).

According to the plaintiff, the DOT first gave approval for the Strickland Road entrance, which would comply with the ordinances in effect for Howell in 2021. However, the DOT then issued a contradictory statement, stating that the driveway would be traffic problem.

“The DOT pushed back this driveway on the grounds that Strickland Road is really a limited length between Wyckoff Mills and Route 9,” site engineer Jeffrey Martell explained. “They were concerned that potential customers would be tempted to detour through Strickland, and really the limited productivity of that driveway. So for reasons that the DOT has given, and the fact that since the original approval, the city ordinance has changed, and the requirement to have that driveway is no longer part of the conditional use criteria, we have since removed that driveway from the plan and obtained NJDOT approval.

With changes to the township ordinances in place and with the approval of the State of New Jersey, the application was finally able to move forward nearly 16 months after they appeared at the Planning Board.

“The changes to the plan following the removal of the Strickland Road driveway,” Tuvel told the board, “probably were to the benefit of the site, where we were able to reduce the impermeable cover by 3 additional %, [and] add additional landscaping to the property.

Impervious cover is the percentage of a parcel of land covered by roads, buildings, or anything else that rainwater cannot pass through.

Once the new site is complete, this site will close and “move” to the new convenience store and gas station location. (Photo by Mark Bator)

The location is expected to have five employees during business hours, consisting of an on-site manager, two gas attendants and two convenience store workers. Since this is a 24-hour facility, deliveries will be frequent, consisting of trucks restocking the convenience store weekly, as well as fuel deliveries estimated at four to five times per week. Garbage and recycling collection will be done twice a week.

Despite the Commission’s concerns about traffic and the site’s proximity to residential ‘The Villages’, no member of the public objected to the project when given the opportunity to speak during the review process. request.

The new site will be “a relocation” of the existing 7-Eleven convenience store which currently sits at the corner of Casino Drive and Route 9.