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Lawsuit Settlement Leads To Approval For Bus Parking In Shopping Plaza Lot

Zoning Board of Adjustment attorney Francis Regan reads off the list of conditions attached to the approval of the Saharose bus company’s application.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment was forced on January 19 to approve a bus company’s application to park 15 buses in the rear lot at JFK Plaza on John F. Kennedy Boulevard.

The application for a Use Variance was originally denied by the Board on November 4, 2021, but the applicant, Saharose, appealed the decision and won in state Superior Court.

As a result of a settlement of that suit, the Board was required to approve the application, albeit with about 20 restrictions.

Among those conditions are that a fence must be erected around the parking area, security cameras and lights must be installed, no other buses or personal cars can be parked there, and the only maintenance work that can be done on the buses is the changing of tires.

“No idling” signs and signage restricting parking to Saharose buses will also have to be installed, under the agreement.

“This is not what the Board wanted, the Board wanted nothing,” Board chairman Robert Thomas said after the final vote was taken. “But under the circumstances, you got about as tight a set of conditions as possible.” 

“I look forward to the cooperation of the applicant and especially the owner to make this work because people are not leaving here happy,” he said.

At the November 2022 hearing, Board members expressed skepticism that neither Saharose nor David Rubin, a co-owner of the shopping plaza, could keep another bus company, Sunset Transportation, from parking its buses there.

Three members voted “no” at the November hearing, Board member Robert Shepherd was the only one to give a detailed explanation of his vote.

“Generally speaking, it’s a good idea, but it feels like there’s going to be a situation where nobody’s going to claim responsibility when things go south,” he said at the time. “It’s just not something that feels like its sufficiently buttoned up. I just don’t think it’s going to go well.”

“I think the net use of this particular situation with this particular owner and this particular applicant and the renegade buses that seem to be coming on, and the lack of enforcement, they lead me to say no to this application,” he said at the time.

A trial on Saharose’s appeal was held in March 2022, after which the two sides entered into settlement talks.

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