All meeting minutes posted on the township website are unofficial minutes. Official copies of minutes may be obtained from the Planning/Zoning Department.

Minutes: June 9, 2021

Call to Order

Meeting was called to order by Chairman Theobald at 7:00 p.m.

Statement of Compliance

Pursuant to the Open Public Meetings Act, adequate notice of this regular meeting has been provided to the public and the press on January 18, 2021 by delivering to the press such notice and posting same at the municipal building.

Roll Call  Also Present
Mayor’s Designee Diane WexlerNP Steve Tombalakian, Board Attorney
Craig WilliamsP Cory Stoner, Board Engineer
Councilmember AubergerP Jessica Caldwell, Board Planner
Martin TheobaldP Kimberley Decker, Board Secretary
Richard SpoerlNP  
Willard McPeekP  
Andrea CoculaP  
Michael WhitakerP  
Kristi RapertoP  
Kelly Mitchell Alternate #1P  
Joseph Tadrick Alternate #2P  
Paul Mele Alternate #3NP  
Mark Vizzini Alternate #4NP  

Chairman Theobald stated Ms. Wexler and Mr. Spoerl informed the board of their absence.

Public Hearings

LU# 7-20-4 - 515 Vernon Property LLC - Block 413, Lot 10, - Preliminary and Final Site Plan for a Proposed Mixed Use Multi-Tenant Retail Business That Could Include a Convenience Store, Fast Food with Drive-Thru, Personal Service Business, Professional Office, Apartment Units, Auto Service and Fueling Station

Michael Selvaggi, Esq. came forward representing the applicant and stated application is for preliminary and final site plan approval for property known as 525 Route 515 within Vernon Township.

Attorney Tombalakian asked Mr. Selvaggi if Chairman Theobald is a client currently causing conflict on hearing the application. Mr. Selvaggi stated he had represented him on an application in 2019 but is now concluded posing no conflict. Mr. William Askin, Esq, on behalf of an objector, the Shotmeyer family, town center property owners, stated he has no objection if Mr. Theobald participates.

Mr. Stoner explained the waiver for delineation of environmentally sensitive areas is not applicable and recommended waivers for environmental impact statement and certification of wetlands be granted since site is already disturbed. He stated application is deemed complete for hearing purposes and noted the final site plan items can be made as conditions of approval.

Mr. Selvaggi stated the application is for site known as Block 413 Lot 10, 525 RT 515, a 1.2 acre tract, which was determined to be an area in need of redevelopment in 2018 by Vernon Township. In 2021, through the land use board and township council, the site redevelopment plan was ratified which is a mini master plan with standards for building design, signs, lighting, and landscaping.

Mr. Jasvinder Arjani, architect with Bertin Engineering, Glen Rock was accepted and sworn in by the board. He explained the existing site located on corner of Main Street, South Main Street and RT 515 is a developed retail strip mall with additional retail to the east, residences and commercial to the south and west with mix of retail and residences to the north. He noted other commercial sites include food store, retail, restaurants and two gas stations.

Mr. Arjani stated the existing one-story building is currently 10,199 sq. ft and was built for 8 possible tenants which previously included a post office, Chinese restaurant, stationary store, sport shop and salon. The existing free-standing sign is outside of property line but is proposed to be relocated on site. He displayed Exhibit A-1, aerial overlay of site with rendering of proposed gas station and second story apartments above existing building. He added there will be 8 fueling stations with a 42' x 58' canopy, two kiosks, convenience store with drive-thru and four other units. The second story will be approximately 3000 sq. ft and have two (2) two-bedroom apartments for owner or tenant use with access from 196 sq. ft staircase. Mr. Arjani stated there will be 2 underground storage tanks: a 20,000 gallon tank for regular gas and a 15,000-gallon tank split in three sections for super, diesel and other.

Mr. Arjani displayed Exhibit A-2 showing view along RT 515 showing proposed black aluminum fence and post with 1-4 ft retaining wall in keystone buff color similar to existing fence at CVS in Town Center area. He indicated two (2) vacuum machines and four (4) spaces for electric cars will be located on north side of lot with trash enclosure and backup generator located behind building. He added a propane cage will be located on front sidewalk per safety standards.

Mr. Arjani described Exhibit A-3 view showing proposed building and filling station similar to another Circle K in Hardyston who he noted is the same owner. The applicant proposes to keep the existing brick siding but add medium to dark stucco siding with bronze metal roof over sidewalk. Per the redevelopment plan, the building proposal uses the Mountain Village Architecture style. The canopy will be designed per brand standards, 20 sq ft sign in red with yellow background. Mr. Arjani explained the owner run convenience store will include food prep area, customer seating walk-in box and drive-thru with a 10-car capacity behind building.

Mr. Arjani stated applicant is proposing decorative lights along RT 515, two more on Main St and one north of driveway with average foot candle of .61. The canopy will have fifteen (15) lights flush on ceiling with foot candle maximum being 22.76 for added safety and security for customers and employees but will be monitored for needed adjustments by township professionals. Due to 90% of property developed, landscaping on site is limited but applicant is open to board recommendations for trees at entrances and exits which may also require county approvals.

Mr. Arjani stated proposal requests option for eight (8) building signs, one for each unit, although four will be used by Circle K convenience store. The applicant is proposing to remove the existing freestanding sign which was not located on site and replace with a freestanding price sign legally within the property. The board discussed site being at gateway of town center and to allow for option of eight (8) tenant panels for greater visibility by transient traffic and residents. Board members questioned if brightness of canopy lighting or late hours of drive-thru will adversely affect nearby residences. Mr. Arjani stated canopy lights are flush with downward LED lighting and will not be an issue for nearby residents. He added applicant requests hours of operation to be 24/7 but will depend on business needs and staffing.

Mr. Eric Hough of Bertin Engineering 66 Glen Ave, Glen Rock, NJ, applicant’s engineer came forward and was accepted as expert to testify and sworn in. Mr. Hough explained the site’s impervious coverage and proposed inlet additions but noted that drainage patterns will remain the same. Applicant agreed to provide a soil test of the site as a condition of the application approval. He added with the second story addition of 3,955 sq ft the site will be 50,700 sq ft. of impervious coverage or 95% of site.

Per his review, Mr. Stoner stated that while proposal is not major development, the applicant must explain drainage of site and manage the increase of runoff from the property. Mr. Hough stated the applicant will go to the sewer authority to provide details of the existing 12" CMP and comply with the township stormwater control ordinance. Mr. Hough stated the traffic study findings from the proposal conclude same level of service in all peak periods which includes new trips and pass-by trips. Mr. Hough stated the intersection delays will not be significantly impacted, as peak hours will be increased only by one second.

The vehicle circulation plan includes revision of existing driveway curbing on Main Street to accommodate fuel deliveries trucks. He added garbage trucks will utilize South Main St. driveway for pickup. Parking plan shows 49 spaces, including four (4) for electric charging where 47 are required per ordinance. Applicant will file utility plan during construction showing the underground utilities for lighting, pumps, signs and charging stations.

Board members expressed safety concern of traffic congestion near Main Street entrance as well as the proposal includes offsite improvements on township property which will need to be part of developer’s agreement. Mr. Hough stated per the traffic study, that traffic generated from the project will be accommodated with minimal increase in intersection delays. Mr. Stoner questioned if approval to use the access easement from Lot 11 onto Route 515 for exit and/or entrance was obtained, as it was not in project file.

Ms. Caldwell stated the redevelopment plan requires sidewalks and streetscape improvements along County Rt 515 and Main Street for pedestrian access to site. Board members questioned this requirement on RT 515 due to excessive grade and lack of any connecting sidewalks. After discussion, board members stated applicant should make effort to obtain county approval to install sidewalks per township plan on RT 515 as well as on Main Street.

Regarding traffic circulation, Mr. Stoner asked applicant to explain how fuel, food, or other deliveries would be handled. Mr. Hough explained all delivery trucks for all tenants would unload at fueling station position closest to building under canopy to not disturb circulation. Mr. Stoner added details of proposed trash enclosure and emergency generator details are needed, as well as county approval for landscaping along RT 515.

Ms. Caldwell stated application is conforming to redevelopment plan although one deviation is needed for larger canopy sign. Board discussed if proposed metal roof fits mountain architectural guidelines for town center and decided that approval can be reviewed and approved by Ms. Caldwell.

Hearing Opened to Public Comment

Edward Rolando, Guthrie Drive commented that applicant has right to do what they want but is concerned about negative impact of canopy lighting and increase in traffic on Main Street.

William Askin, attorney, from firm Askin & Hooker, LLC, came forward on behalf of Shotmeyer family who owns existing service station at 312 RT 94, corner of RT 515. Mr. Askin explained that his client has filed in court objection to the redevelopment plan for this site based upon the existing master plan that concluded no more gas stations would be beneficial to the relatively small town center. He stated his client is protecting his investment and has long standing relationships with many businesses and residents in Vernon Township. Mr. Askin stated the outcome from litigation will have direct impact to whatever action the board takes.

Mr. Askin commented that testimony presented said the existing sign is not on site but on Lot 11 and questioned if it will be removed or maintained. He added concerns that the traffic circulation plan shows access crossing Lot 11 to access RT 515 which is not owned by applicant and no township easement was found per title search. He urged that documentation be produced prior to board acting for town’s best interest. Attorney Tombalakian stated all off-site improvements can be added as conditions to a developer’s agreement with the township and county to formalize these uses. Mr. Askin questioned if retaining wall on RT 515 edge of property will be raised or just extended which applicant explained would just be extended.

Mr. Askin objected to request for a waiver for environmental impact study. He added the stream across RT 515 is a riparian zone which requires a letter of interpretation for wetlands delineation per the NJDEP. Ms. Askin opined the application appears to have many open items including trash enclosure, landscaping, traffic circulation, Lot 11 access easement for board to make any decision.

Seeing no more public wishing to come forward, hearing was closed to the public.

Mr. Tombalakian stated application is for a preliminary and final site plan with no use variances by planning board to make decision based on township council approved redevelopment plan for site.

Mr. Stoner explained offsite improvements of road access; curbing access; updated site plan will be conditions of approval or developer’s agreement. Ms. Caldwell added the signage follows town center guidelines with one deviation for canopy sign needed.

Motion: Motion to approve LU#7-20-4 was made by Ms. Cocula as presented and testified and was seconded by Mr. Williams

ROLL CALL: WILLIAMS: Y; AUBERGER: Y; MCPEEK: Y: COCULA: Y; WHITAKER: Y; RAPERTO: Y; MITCHELL: Y; TADRICK: Y; THEOBALD: Y.
Motion passed.

Chairman Theobald stepped down from application and Attorney Tombalakian led the meeting.

LU# 12-19-10 - Martin Theobald - Block 57 Lot 5 - Minor Subdivision - Extension of Time

Mr. Theobald came forward to explain prior subdivision approval was granted a 180-day extension to allow for county approval of perfecting the deeds. He explained due to delay at county level and resubmission of documents, another extension is needed. Due to the COVID-19 extension act, the board may grant additional time for applicant to perfect deeds.

Hearing opened to public for comments. Seeing no one wishing to come forward hearing was closed.

Motion: Motion to approve extension of one (1) year was made by Mr. Whitaker and was seconded by Mr. Auberger.

ROLL CALL: WILLIAMS: Y; AUBERGER: Y; MCPEEK: Y: COCULA: Y; WHITAKER: Y; RAPERTO: Y; MITCHELL: Y; TADRICK: Y.
Motion passed.

Chairman Theobald returned to meeting.

Public Participation

Chairman Theobald opened the meeting to the public. Seeing no one wishing to comment, Chairman Theobald closed meeting to the public.

Resolutions

LU# 3-21-4 - Kenneth Boschert - Block 463, Lot 97 & 98, - Minor Subdivision/Lot Line Adjustment

Eligible to vote: Wexler, Williams, Auberger, Spoerl, McPeek, Cocula, Whitaker, Mitchell, Theobald

Motion: Motion to approve Resolution for LU#3-21-4 was made by Ms. Cocula and was seconded by Mr. Auberger.

ROLL CALL: WILLIAMS: Y; AUBERGER: Y; MCPEEK: Y: COCULA: Y; WHITAKER: Y; MITCHELL: Y; THEOBALD: Y.
Motion passed.

Minutes

May 12, 2021 - Regular Meeting Minutes (Wexler, Williams, Auberger, Spoerl, McPeek, Cocula, Whitaker, Mitchell, Theobald)

Motion: Motion to approve Minutes of May 12, 2021, was made by Mr. Auberger and was seconded by Mr. Williams.

ROLL CALL: WILLIAMS: Y; AUBERGER: Y; MCPEEK: Y: COCULA: Y; WHITAKER: Y; MITCHELL: Y; THEOBALD: Y.
Motion passed.

Appendix A: Escrows, Board Fees, Bond Reductions and Escrow Closures

  1. Board Fees
    1. Board Attorney: Glenn Kienz, Weiner Law Group LLP
      1. Land Use Board Business - Services through 4/28/21 ($1,000.00)
      2. Farm 94 LLC - LU# 9-20-6 - Services through 4/28/21 ($448.00)
      3. Allain & Bilomauser - LU# 11-20-8 - Services through 4/28/21 ($80.00)
      4. Evan Dolcimascolo - LU# 2-21-1 - Services through 4/20/21 ($528.00)
      5. Christopher Newsom - LU# 2-21-2 - Services through 4/20/21 ($480.00)
      6. Snowshoe Homes LLC - LU# 2-21-3 - Services through 4/30/21 ($400.00)
      7. Kenneth Boschert - LU# 3-21-4 - Services through 4/15/21 ($32.00)
    2. Board Planner: Jessica Caldwell, J. Caldwell & Associates
      1. Land Use Board Business - Services through 4/28/21 ($375.00)
      2. Land Use Board Business - Services through 4/26/21 ($343.75)
      3. Allain & Bilomauser - LU# 11-20-8 - Services through 4/15/21 ($250.00)
      4. Snowshoe Homes LLC - LU# 2-21-3 - Services through 4/16/21 ($312.00)
    3. Board Engineer: Cory Stoner, Harold E. Pellow & Associates
      1. Land Use Board Business - ($0)
    4. Board Recording Secretary: Irene Mills ($75.00)

Motion: Motion to approve fees was made by Ms. Cocula and was seconded by Mr. Whitaker.

All members were in favor. Motion passed.

Adjournment

There being no further items of business to be conducted on the agenda, a motion was made by Mr. Tadrick and was seconded by Mr. Williams. All members were in favor. Meeting adjourned at 9:28 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted
Irene Mills, Recording Secretary