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QuickChek At Easton Avenue/Route 287 Wins Approval

Robert Vallario, right, QuickChek’s site selector, testifies during the July 11 Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing.

An application for a QuickCheck convenience store with an eight-bay gas station won approval July 11 from the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The store is targeted for a 3-acre plot in a larger development bordered by Easton Avenue, Worlds Fair Drive and the Route 287 exit ramp.

Previously approved on the total 9-acre parcel — the site of the former Econo Lodge and Venue 1850 banquet hall — was a 136-room assisted living facility and a 119-room hotel.

The Zoning Board did make some modifications to the plan before unanimously approving it, however. It reduced the parking lot by five spaces, it rejected QuickChek’s plan to put its logo on directional signs within the complex and it prohibited the dispensing of “high-flow” diesel from its pumps, among others.

The planned store is a new design, the board was told, and looks to be the second such model built in the state. The first was opened on Route 1 in North Brunswick, Robert Vallario, a site selector for QuickChek, told the board.

Vallario said the store would employ between 35 and 50 people, mostly from the surrounding area, and would be open 24/7.

Vallario said that particular location was chosen for one main reason: the Route 287 exit ramp.

With the “traffic volume on Easton Avenue and coming off of 287 and the ability to get back on 287, it appeared to us, from the studies that we do, that this was an ideal location for our kind of use,” he said.

“This is one of the few opportunities in the state of New Jersey where off an exit ramp you have access,” he said. “Most of them you don’t, so we view that as a positive.”

Vallario also said that the company didn’t see a problem locating a store so close to the one in South Bound Brook.

“I know we have a store over in South Bound Brook, and people ask me how did we come to pick this location,” he said. “Truth be known is that we don’t envision from the studies that we do, any of the folks that live in this area venturing up to South Bound Brook and then venturing back, nor do we see the folks in South Bound Brook venturing here.”

‘So we view it basically as two different markets,” Vallario said. “We feel this is an ideal location that can service the folks that visit and/or live in the area.”

The 5,670-square-foot store will offer a variety of grocery items, Vallario said.

As part of the approval, QuickChek will be allowed to place two “pylon” signs — one for QuickChek and one for the hotel and assisted living center — along the Route 287 exit ramp, near where the Econo Lodge sign was.

Approval was also granted for a smaller “monument” sign on Worlds Fair Drive.

Access to the site will be from the current driveway off Easton Avenue, where motorists turn right to enter and then right back onto Easton to leave, and a new driveway on Worlds Fair Drive.

An existing driveway on Worlds Fair, close to the Easton Avenue intersection, will be closed off to all but emergency traffic. The new driveway is located about 600 feet away from the intersection.

QuickChek had planned to install four directional signs with its iconic “Q” on them, but the board nixed that idea. Those types of signs are not allowed under the township’s zoning ordinance.

Township planner Mark Healy told the board the reason they were banned was to reduce the amount of signage on a property. QuickChek representatives agreed to the change.

The board also rejected QuickChek’s plan to provide five more parking spaces than were needed.

Board Chairman Robert Thomas said he would feel differently about the spaces if the use was one that required long-term parking. But, he said, visits to a convenience store are usually quick.

“I don’t see that those five spaces are going to make or break this application, but it can reduce impervious coverage,” he said.

The board seemed to accept an opinion from Elizabeth Dolan, the applicant’s traffic engineer, that the convenience store really wouldn’t attract a lot of local customers.

Dolan projected the busiest morning rush hour would generate about 230 vehicles into the site, and the busiest evening rush hour would send about 200 cars to QuickCheck.

Those cars would come from the roughly 2,000 cars that pass by during the peak morning and evening rush hours, she said.

“Who’s going to go out of their way to go through the interchange spaghetti to get there?” she asked. “You may have a draw from the Worlds Fair Drive area and the local draw, but that percentage is much smaller.”

Traffic conditions are given “level of service grades” from “A” to “F,” with “A” being the best. Dolan said that currently traffic coming off Route 287 onto teh exit ramp is rated at LOS grade of “D.” She said the traffic added by entrances and exits from the QuickChek site will bring that grade down to “E.”

“But that’s acceptable from the (state Department of Transportation) perspective,” she said.

“Overall I would say that the impact is within reasonable parameters,” she said.

John McDonough, the applicant’s planner, said the project was “ideally suited at this particular location.”

“This is a very complimentary use that relates to a specific piece of property at a very distinct location in the community where we have a very heavy transportation-oriented component, and this is a land use that caters very well to the pass-by traffic,” he said.

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