Stephen Studer, the attorney for Monroe Gas LLC, recently went before the Planning & Zoning Commission for a non-binding discussion, while seeking input on the septic system for a proposal to build a five-bay, 10-pump gas station for Stop & Shop at 528 Monroe Turnpike.
The original P&Z application was withdrawn after having obtained a recommendation letter from the Architectural Review Board and an Inland Wetlands Commission approval, because it was found the boundary lines in the plan were wrong. Though the property was consistently referred to as a DB-2 zone, the town planning administrator noticed where two small slivers in back of the parcel are actually zoned residential.
Monroe Gas LLC wants to use an existing septic system on the property, but the leaching fields are on the residential portion.
Studer pointed out that past P&Z commissions had approved commercial uses with the same septic system on the site, but wanted to know if it would be a problem with the current commissioners.
If it were a new parcel, Studer said he believes it would be the P&Z's prerogative whether or not to require the septic system to be on the commercial portion of the property, but because it was allowed in previous applications, he expressed his belief that the P&Z should be bound by past commissions' decisions.
Chairman Patrick O'Hara said, "From my perspective, if you put a septic system on property zoned business, that would cure your ills... I think asking us to do a zone change, I think it's cleaner."
Both O'Hara and commission alternate, Cathy Lindstrom, said having the entire parcel zoned as business would afford residential neighbors the protections that go along with it, such as set back requirements.
O'Hara said, "To me it would be cleaner if everything is in the same bag."
Studer said, "If we didn’t already have an existing system there, I would agree more readily with your thoughts."
The attorney pointed out there is already neighborhood opposition to the proposal, adding if residential properties were to be bordering a commercial one with a zone change, that could bring new opposition.
O'Hara said Town Attorney John Fracassini will review a letter from Monroe Gas LLC and advise the commission over whether or not it should be bound by the decisions of past commissions for the parcel.
Some commissioners asked Studer about putting the gas station on the same Monroe Turnpike property as the Stop & Shop supermarket.
Commissioner James Weinberg said, "If there were a way to get this on that Stop & Shop property, I would view it as more appropriate."
Lindstrom agreed, saying, "If there was an alternate location where Stop & Shop is, I think it may be more appropriate with the lights there and the traffic pattern is better there."
Since no studies were performed on the feasibility of building the gas station at Stop & Shop, Studer said he could not comment on that.