On the southeast corner of Route 518, at the intersection of Route 31, in the area that locals remember for “Karen’s at Brookside,” there may soon be a fueling station and convenience store. Earlier this year, property owner, PL Squared LLC, filed an application with the Hopewell Township Zoning Board of Adjustments seeking use and bulk variances to develop the property.
While the portion of the property that had been occupied by Karen’s was taken by NJDOT for intersection improvements a number of years ago and is no longer part of the existing property, the remaining property includes a single family dwelling, a barn and a shed, along with some land still being farmed. Currently zoned as “Mountain Resource Conservation” (MRC), a low-density residential and agricultural zoning district, the applicant has asserted that, due to the existing non-residential character of the intersection, rezoning would allow for more appropriate use of the land.
The property owner intends to demolish the existing structures on the property and construct and operate a fueling station and convenience store, with no automotive repair service, as an independently owned business. The redeveloped property would consist of five canopied fuel pumps (4 gas / 1 diesel), a 5,685 square foot convenience store with 38 parking spaces and will be open 24 hours per day / 7 day per week.
The property owner’s attorney, at this month’s zoning board meeting assured the board that the property would be a retail use with a “Hopewell aesthetic” in an area that the applicant views as a more appropriate use of the property, as compared to residential. The property owner also expressed an interest in keeping the land in the family name, despite having been approached many times for the purchase of the property, and reminisced when his grandfather owned the property many years ago.
Because the site is not on public water, the property owner will be installing an on-site septic system. There was significant discussion at this month’s zoning board meeting about nitrate pollution and assurances that there would be no groundwater contamination from the new septic being installed on the property.
The matter has been continued to next month’s zoning board meeting to allow for the applicant to further support the assertion that the requested use would fit the character of the area and discuss the zoning surrounding properties.