Judge Overturns Decision to Let Quick Chek Sell Gas
Friday, August 23, 2013 • 12:00am
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – A Superior Court judge on Monday overturned a zoning-board decision that allowed the Quick Chek convenience store on Durham Avenue in South Plainfield to add a gas station to its operations.
Judge James P. Hurley, sitting in New Brunswick, said that Quick Chek failed to submit enough evidence that would allow the board to waive a provision in the borough’s zoning ordinance that requires gas stations to be at least 1,200 feet apart.
According to Hurley, the Borough Council imposed the requirement to safeguard against fires and explosions. As a result he believed Quick Chek needed to explain how the company’s safety measures would make the requirement unnecessary.
The decision may only slow down the project, not stop it. In June the Borough Council eliminated the distance requirement, which was put in place decades ago, before gas stations put modern safety measures in place. But because the ordinance still contained the distance requirement when the zoning board granted Quick Chek’s application, the judge had to consider it.
“The combination convenience store and gas station is now a permitted use in that location,” said attorney Bob Jones, who represented the zoning board at the hearing. “This means that the Quick Chek can resubmit its application without seeking a variance from the zoning board. It’s a much simpler application now that the council has changed the ordinance.”
When the board granted the application, members said they believed the expansion would benefit the community. At the hearing, they said having a gas station on the east side of Durham Avenue would prevent cars traveling north from making dangerous left-hand turns into the gas station on the west side of the road.
Board members also believed the project would enhance the look of what they called the “gateway” into the community. As part of the project, Quick Chek proposed tearing down several rundown houses next to its property and adding extra landscaping.
The case originally went to court after two gas stations that would compete with Quick Chek brought an appeal challenging the board’s decision. While Hurley ruled in favor of the competitors on the claim involving the 1,200-foot requirement, he dismissed their claim charging the board with being biased. “The judge said the board conducted a fair hearing and did nothing wrong,” Jones said.