Plan proposes rehabilitation of abandoned gas station on Route 9 in Howell

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HOWELL – Members of the Howell Planning Board are being asked to approve the demolition of an abandoned gas station and the construction of a new gas station with a convenience store on property between Route 9 north and Wyckoff Mills Road.

The property is near The Villages adult community on Wyckoff Mills Road and Woolley’s Fish Market and Seafood House on Route 9. The applicant is Gill Petroleum Inc. Testimony was heard on July 18 and the board carried the public hearing to Sept. 5.

Representatives of Gill Petroleum have said the existing site improvements would be removed and in their place a BP gas station and a 3,000-square-foot convenience store would be constructed. Three new 15,000-gallon underground fuel storage tanks would be installed, according to the testimony.

Plans for the new gas station and convenience store show access from Route 9 and from Wyckoff Mills Road, parking spaces for 17 vehicles, a loading area, an enclosed area for trash, an infiltration basin, landscaping, lighting and signs.

Attorney Salvatore Alfieri and architect Jasvinder Arjani represented Gill Petroleum at the board’s July 18 meeting.

Attorney Ron Gasiorowski represented SAP American Choice Inc., which is an objector to the application. SAP American Choice owns an Exxon gas station on Route 9, just north of the proposed BP gas station.

The Gill Petroleum application has been before the board at previous hearings. Alfieri said that after board members raised the issue of sidewalks, he met with Jim Herrman, who is Howell’s director of community development.

“Jim has a design in mind to put a sidewalk on Wyckoff Mills Road only. We agreed that we would work with him to come up with a design and install sidewalks,” Alfieri said.

Arjani described the proposed design and signs for the business and confirmed the operation would be a BP gas station.

Planning Board Chairman Robert Nash said he believed that was the first time the applicant confirmed the business would be a BP gas station.

The board’s attorney, Ron Cucchiaro, clarified that the board is being asked to approve a gas station, regardless of whether it ends up as a BP gas station or another brand.

Gasiorowski asked Arjani questions about various aspects of the site’s design.

During public comment, resident Barbara Dixel asked if Arjani was aware the property is an undersized, non-conforming lot “in every direction.”

Cucchiaro told Dixel that Arjani had already noted that point in his testimony.

When Dixel said the application had been listed as Gill Petroleum for many years and was now being discussed as a BP gas station, Alfieri reiterated that Gill Petroleum is the applicant and operator.

Cucchiaro said Gill Petroleum’s application is for a gas station, not a specific brand. He said an approval, if one is granted by the board, would apply to any gas station, even though specific aspects of the design are now being discussed as a BP gas station.

Cucchiaro said board members will make a decision on the application based on the proposed use of the property and not the brand of gas station that may occupy the location.