Proposal For Quick Chek, Gas Station At Former Econo Lodge Site Reviewed By Historic Commission

Architect Mitchell Ardman, standing, talks about the proposed convenience store/gas station project.

The final part of the redevelopment of a 9-acre parcel at Route 287 and Easton Avenue is nearing Zoning Board of Adjustment review.

Representatives of the Engel Burman Group of Garden City, N.Y. appeared before the township Historic Preservation Advisory Commission on June 5 for its review of a plan for a Quick Chek convenience store and gas station on the site. An as-yet unnamed hotel and an assisted living facility have already been approved for the parcel home to the former Econo Lodge hotel.

The convenience store was always in the plan for the site, but Engel Burman removed it from its application heard by the Zoning Board in August, 2017 because a deal had not yet been reached with Quick Chek. Now that the deal has been forged, Engel Burman is ready to complete the project.

The developer needs to appear before the commission because the site lies within 1,000 feet of the Delaware and Raritan Canal.

Judging from comments made by commission members, the one stumbling block the developer may face is its signage plan, which calls for one sign measuring more than 30 feet tall and 12 feet wide.

Commission members, including chairman Andrew Burian, felt that was just too big for the area.

“My concern is is that it’s not big enough to be relative to 287, so it makes it too big to be relative to Easton Avenue,” he said. “I’m not advocating for bigger for 287, I’m advocating for smaller for Easton Avenue. That’s why maybe two signs could do that better, but that’s open for debate.”

Burian suggested having one sign for the convenience store and gas station, and one for the hotel and assisted living facility.

“There are two separate functions,” he said. “It’s assisted living and a hotel, which is a living and a staying accommodation, and then you have a gas station. I think we’re cramming too much into one giant sign.”

“I think it’s more appropriate to have less mass because it’s less of an intrusion to the canal if you have two smaller signs,” said Vince Dominach, the commission’s township liaison. “You could have two at 15 feet.”

“If it’s not tall enough to serve 287, it should be in the right scale for Easton Avenue,” Burian said.

Mitchell Ardman, Engel Burman’s architect for the overall project, said that the original plan was for two signs.

“I think we went back and forth early and had some comments from Mark (Healey, the township’s principal planner),” he said. “I think they were two separate, and then we were asked to combine, but now that they’re combined they may not be loved by Mr. Healey.

Burian also said that he’d rather the developer flip the project around so that the convenience store, and not the gas pumps, face Easton Avenue.

“This is pretty much the prototype from Quick Chek for circulation, they typically don’t want you going around the back of the building,” Ardman said. “If we did flip it, you really couldn’t have the front facing Easton Avenue” because that would impair customers from going from the gas pumps into the store.

Burian said that a new WaWa convenience store that opened in the area has essentially two fronts, one in front and one in back, where the gas pumps are located.

“I don’t know how much leeway there is with the Quick Chek prototype, I’m just trying to think of a way to make this function a little bit better,” Burian said.

Peter Lanfrit, the developer’s attorney, said that location is larger than than the planned 5,000-square-foot Quick Chek.

In the end, the commission recommended that the developer re-think the signage plan, and then return to the commission for its comments.

The project still has to be reviewed by the township’s Technical Review Committee. Dominach said there has not yet been a date set for the application to be heard by the Zoning Board.


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