Townspeople will soon have the opportunity to testify on Monroe Gas LLC's plan to build a new five-bay, 10 pump gas station with a kiosk at 528 Monroe Turnpike. The Planning & Zoning Commission held a hearing on a special exception permit application on Dec. 13 and it was continued to Jan. 3.
Monroe Gas LLC representatives say Stop & Shop card holders would enjoy significant discounts on gas on the now vacant property.
"We're not proposing a convenience store. We're not proposing to sell propane," said Stephen Studer, the attorney for the applicant. "We're just proposing to sell gasoline. Stop & Shop is a reputable business and its gas stations are open to everyone at a low price."
The station would be manned by a lone attendant and only be open during store hours in the event of a leak or other emergency. Hours of the supermarket on Monroe Turnpike are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.
Despite the applicant's claim of a state-of-the-art drainage system and its receiving wetlands approval, the proposal still faces stiff opposition.
Aquarion Water Co. stands by its contention that it is too close to a public watershed. The property had leaked oil for decades when it housed home heating oil tanks, before being cleaned up. Beardsley Brook runs behind the 1.9-acre property.
Bernard Prushko, who owns a Shell station right next door, recently filed a lawsuit to overturn a Monroe Zoning Board of Appeals' decision to permit a retail gasoline fueling facility at the location. B&J Realty Corporation is named as the plaintiff and the Secretary of the State's website lists Prushko as president and his wife, Julie, as secretary.
On Dec. 13, the applicant made a lengthy presentation and Studer wants to present more evidence on Jan. 3. The public will also have a chance to speak for or against the plan.
Making Their Case
Studer touted the discounts Stop & Shop customers would receive from points on their store cards and presented a petition with 1,200 signatures from shoppers in support of the gas station.
"We believe this would be a benefit for the hard working people of Monroe," he said.
One thousand nine hundred cubic yards of soil and any ground water that comes up during excavation of the site would be trucked away and a cover would be placed over the soil of the brown field before the gas tanks are installed and covered over.
Tim Onderko of Langan Engineering presented the details of the site plan, which includes a sidewalk across the front of the property and a two-way entrance to the south of Route 111 and a one-way, right-turn-only driveway to the north.
The site would have an enclosed Dumpster, handicapped parking, ice and vending machines and a station to sell motor oil and washer fluid. Cut-off lights would be directed at the pavement and a split-rail fence behind the property would serve as a deterrent to people throwing garbage into the woods.
Hoses on both sides of the pumps would stretch to reach gas tanks on either side of cars, making it easier for vehicles to maneuver in the parking lot, according to Onderko.
John Plante of Langan, who has a traffic engineering background, conceded that the gas station would bring more traffic to the area, but said there would be no change in the level of service at key intersections along the commercial strip. A left turn lane for the gas station is proposed.
"We feel that new trips coming to this facility can be accommodated by the existing road network and intersections safely," Plante concluded.
Onderko proposes using an existing septic system that had never been used and has about 12 times the capacity that the gas station would need.
The site would have electric heat and public water.
Onderko said the drainage system could handle a 24-hour storm and a 100-year storm occurrence. In the event of a catastrophic fuel spill, he said the system has alarms and could trap up to 8,500 gallons of liquid on the site.
Bill Tabor, an engineer for the applicant, told the commission that tanker truck spills are extremely rare and that the worst spill was 95 gallons. The worst accidents occur at about 70 mph, which would not happen in a parking lot, according to Tabor.
Onderko pointed out that experts working for the town during the Inland Wetlands Commission hearing determined that the drainage system on the site would be adequate.
A landscaping plan includes the planting of 61 perennials and grasses, 51 trees, 373 shrubs, 217 ground cover plants and 465 herb plantings, according to Onderko.