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Gas Station/Mini-Mart and Retail Building Use Approved by Zoning Board

Would be located at corner of Veronica Avenue and Hamilton Street.

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Developer Felix Bruselovsky

An Englishtown-based developer on Oct. 31 won Zoning Board of Adjustment permission to build a gas station/convenience store and small retail building at the corner of Hamilton Street and Veronica Avenue.

But before he can start digging, the developer, Felix Bruselovsky, will have to return to the board for site plan approval, which will include an agreement on the gas station’s operating hours.

That’s because some board members were concerned that nearby homes would be affected by the gas station closing later than 10 p.m.

Bruselovsky’s attorney, Kenneth Pape, told the board that his client would like to stay open until 11 p.m., but two board members stated outright that they would not vote for that.

“I can tell you you’ll have trouble getting this approved if you stay open late at night,” board member Joel Reiss said.

“If the motion presented is for the gas station to be open after 10 o’clock, I’ll vote ‘no’,” said board member Robert Shepherd.

Pape told the board that “10 o’clock is a very hard time to close. If it’s a condition that’s imposed, we’ll live with it.”

“The witching hour we believe is necessary to compete is 11,” he said.

Pape suggested that any further discussion of closing times be held in abeyance until his client returns for site plan approval. He said he wanted more time to research the hours of competing gas stations.

The use variance the board ultimately approved was necessary because the roughly 3-acre property lies in a zone that does not allow retail or gas stations.

Bruselovsky also needed a number of bulk variances for things such as driveway width, sign size and and the distance his proposed parking area is set back from the property line.

The board also required Bruselovsky to install a natural gas-powered generator to provide electricity in the event of a power outage, as was experienced in the aftermath of 2012’s superstorm Sandy.

The parcel is comprised of what used to be two separate lots, each of which holds a vacant house.

Bruselovsky’s proposal is for a 10,000-square-foot retail building and a 3,000 square-foot gas station and convenience store. The retail building would probably be broken up into six “mom-and-pop” stores, Bruselovsky said. The gas station would feature 16 pumps under a canopy..

Bruselovsky owns about 30 gas stations in the state, some flagged with his own brand – 19 Petroleum – but he’s also a distributor for Citgo, Gulf and Union 76 brands.

Bruselovsky said he had not yet decided which brand he would offer at the state, but said pricing for gas would be the same no matter what the brand.

The board in March of 2009 approved a proposal by Bruselovsky to build a 20,000-square-foot retail building and a 3,000-square-foot bank with a drive-through window on the property.

Pape told the board that his client tried to market the concept to banks in the ensuing years, but was unsuccessful.

He said the current project was decided upon after contemplating what would be best for the community.

Not everyone in the community thought it was a great idea. Manjit Singh, the owner of a service station located about 600 feet from the site on Hamilton Street, showed up with his attorney, Alfred Johanson.

Johanson questioned whether the application violated the township’s restrictions on how close service stations can be to each other.

That was quickly shot down by township senior zoning officer Vincent Dominach and planner Mark Healey.

“It does not violate the ordinance because that provision of the ordinance is not legally defensible,” Dominach said.

Healey added that technically, Singh’s gas station is different from what Bruselovsky is proposing because Singh also offers auto repair, while Bruselovsky would not.

The latter’s proposal “is not a service station,” he said.

Allison Coffin, Bruselovksy’s planner, told the board that her clients project would serve as a buffer between the light industrial zone along Veronica and the residential zone along Hamilton.

“It is my opinion that there is a need for this use,” she said.

“We need a gas station on that street?” Shepherd asked.

Pape said the presence of another gas station in the area should have no impact on the board’s decision.

“It’s not like, here’s a Burger King, so McDonald’s you’re not allowed,” Pape said. “It doesn’t work that way.”

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