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Monroe Gas LLC is Back Before the P&Z

The applicant wants a zone change to allow an existing septic system at 528 Monroe Turnpike to be used by a commercial tenant.

The vacant property, 528 Monroe Turnpike, is next to the Shell station.
The vacant property, 528 Monroe Turnpike, is next to the Shell station.
Written by Angela Cross

Monroe Gas LLC is back before the Planning & Zoning Commission. It previously proposed to build a five-bay-10-pump gas station for Stop & Shop at 528 Monroe Turnpike, but that application was withdrawn both times, once for a "fatal error" with the map and a second time because the portion of the property where they want to hook into an existing septic system is zoned residential.

At a Dec. 19 hearing, Monroe Gas LLC only applied for a zone change to accommodate commercial use of the septic tank. It's asking the commission to change a .57 acre portion to the rear south corner of the total 1.96 acre lot from residential to commercial.

The property owner contends that the main lot is unable to support a subsurface septic system due to a conservation easement and wetlands on the property.

Stephen Studer, the attorney for Monroe Gas LLC, said, "The rear portion [of the lot] is the only portion capable of supporting a sub-surface sewer. The split zone is a real constraint to the development of 528 Monroe Turnpike. Without septic, this property is essentially useless."

However, P&Z Vice Chairman William W. Porter called into question whether the rear flag portion is the only place a septic system for the property could be located.

Regardless, the commission agreed that a zone change in itself does not allow use of the septic without further regulations and town approvals.

Impacts on Neighbors

Town Planning Administrator William Agresta suggested an approval could encourage commercial property owners to buy adjacent residential properties and apply for a zone change to enlarge their commercial property holding.

"Are we creating a situation of creep by applicants instead of town planning?" he 
asked.

Studer said, "Zone lines should follow property lines and they typically do."

Mike Sportini lives on Cross Hill Road, which borders the property under consideration for the zone change. He expressed concern about the residential zone being cut into.

"If that plot of land is residential and becomes commercial, we've now crept farther into residential," Sportini said. "Through this process, they have failed one, two and we are here a third time. They are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.”.

Sportini also raised concerns about the commercial use of an access path and easement that runs through his property.

"You can’t drive to commercial property through a residential district. A residential plot of land will now be an easement for commercial property," he said.

Future Use in Question

Attorney Joel Green represents B&J Reality, whose principal is Bernard Prushko, owner of the Shell station next door to the property owned by Monroe Gas LLC. He suggested that "different uses would have different septic system requirements."

"They haven’t identified what the land will be used for," Green said. "By not identifying potential use, the applicant did little to show how it meets land use requirements."

Studer replied, "Tonight’s application is not about a gas station. There may never be a gas station. It is about the ability to develop this property for use."

The commission closed the floor to general public comment. However, it will still accept written testimony and will continue deliberations at the P&Z meeting on January 16, 2014.
Laura December 30, 2013 at 10:59 AM
They say 3 times a charm...This would be so bad if this gas station went through...The traffic now for the Big Y shopping area and the Shell Station is tough enough to get through. Add another gas station (as if we need one) there and then what? I don't see where they can widen the road and it sounds as if the rules are being changed for the BIG GUY - screw the rest...The bigger picture is what will other BIG GUYS do to smaller guys/residents in another place. This is just not needed there TOO MANY PROBLEMS!!! & then there's the Round-A-Bout to take place - we'll be backed up forever! THINK HARD ABOUT THIS ONE P&Z!!!
christine December 30, 2013 at 11:32 AM
This project is getting bigger and bigger, I pity the neighborhood. This is a bad idea all around, with the additional traffic and environmental impact. And to encourage business owners to buy residential properties to increase their business? What a nightmare.
Crown Royal December 30, 2013 at 12:01 PM
Laura, this is not about a gas station right now. This is about correctly zoning a plot of land, which should have been re-zoned years ago, when the septic system was installed. I hate how Mr. and Mrs. Sportini are crying foul, when they knew full and well that when they bought that house, the easement, and therefore the septic system existed in their backyard. That is not the type of thing that just gets forgotten about by a realtor. Christine, this project has not grown in size at all. This will not encourage business owners to buy adjoining residential plots, because that is not what is going on this situation. Stop spewing misinformation. I encourage you all to attend these meetings so you understand it first hand.
Free Speech December 30, 2013 at 12:26 PM
Time to modernize Monroe. Introducing some competition into the mix may help bring down gas prices. Prushko had a good run at it but now its time to move forward.
Bobbie December 30, 2013 at 12:56 PM
I do not believe that the addition of YET another gas station on Rt 111 would be considered Moving Forward. I vote that we install an American Flag with some landscaping in Honor of our Warriors and Veterans and First Responders. There can never be too much honor awarded to these Heroes. I'm sure there would be many who would be willing to donate for this just cause.
Laura December 30, 2013 at 01:07 PM
Crown I am aware of the situation(s) - This is JUST NOT the right thing...environmentally - wrong - NIMBY - I bet you wouldn't like it either...Like I said - the rules change for some and not for others and most of the time its the little guy who gets screwed...L
Walt December 30, 2013 at 02:08 PM
Bobbie, pulleeeze...

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