At a special meeting on Tuesday December 6, 2016, the Hopewell Township Zoning Board continued the application for a use variance to erect a 12,000 square foot new construction CVS pharmacy with drive-through at the intersection of Route 31 N and Ingleside Avenue, just north of the Pennington Circle.The property is currently occupied by Al’s Sunoco and is zoned as R100 (residential). MercerMe covered ongoing hearings including three prior hearing dates in September, March and August.
For the full audio recording of the 12/6/16 meeting, check out this link.
At the meeting on Tuesday night, the attorney hired by approximately 10 immediate neighbors in objection to the application, Jeffery Baron of the firm Baron and Brennan, cross-examined the applicant’s expert on issues such as existing permissible uses, the expert’s familiarity with master plan changes, current and permissible lot coverage, and potential effects on neighboring properties including increased commercial lighting.
Many residents of Hopewell Township and Pennington Borough voiced concerns and opposition to the project. One such individual, the owner of the residential home directly across the street from the property, spoke about the property’s current residential zoning and the current business’s reasonable use and hours of operation. Another resident commented that the current use is “grandfathered” but, to extend the metaphor, was not intended to have grandchildren. Safety and traffic concerns also were in the forefront of the discussions.
“Would you want a CVS next to your house in a residential neighborhood?” asked another member of the public to the Zoning Board.
In continued opposition to the proposed project, Pennington Borough attorney, Walter Bliss, reminded the Zoning Board of Pennington’s expectation that Hopewell Township consider the impacts on the streets and quality of life in immediately-adjacent Pennington. Bliss sited the master plans’ representations of the importance of working with neighboring municipalities.
“Part of your blueprint for development in Hopewell Township is to work with and cooperate with Pennington, as it is our obligation to work with you,” said Bliss. “This development is highly detrimental to the public good, from the Pennington standpoint, and we beg that you consider this and the promise that we would work together in coordinating our planning and zoning. It is difficult enough to do that, as between governing bodies, and it becomes increasingly difficult if the zoning is ad hoc.”
Bliss also spoke about the traffic impacts on Pennington Borough and the applicant’s deficient 4-corner traffic analysis without boarder consideration of traffic effects. Furthermore, Bliss spoke about the possible future traffic light at the corner of Ingleside Avenue and Route 31, “It is clear that this signal is going to happen only if this application is approved and I don’t think you can do this in the dark without considering additional impact.”
The next hearing for this application will be a special Zoning Board of Adjustment Meeting on Wednesday December 14, 2016. That meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m.