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Zoning Board Hearing on Parker and Valley Convenience Store Proposal Tonight

The Shell Station location across from the high school seeks to add a 7-Eleven.

Tonight, the Maplewood Zoning Board of Adjustment will hold a hearing for a proposal to build a 24-hour 7-Eleven convenience store at the Shell Station on Valley Street in Maplewood — across the street from Columbia High School. Because the site is zoned for a single use, the developer must receive a variance to add a second use — that of the convenience store — to the site. The developer, Ali Enterprise, Inc., is seeking that variance tonight.

Neighbors and the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education have voiced concerns about the proposal.

One resident who has been organizing opposition to the project is John Davenport. Davenport told Patch in a series of emails that many neighbors oppose the addition of the second use on the site because it would bring additional lighting around the rim of the station 24 hours a day, destroy most of the trees that screen the station from surrounding homes, and add loud air conditioning units to the top of a new building — among other negatives.

Davenport said, "These are the kinds of things they will say, 'well we can ameliorate this or that...' But the fact remains that it would be a garish addition to a crowded corner that will increase congestion. It totally does not fit." He added, "There is virtually no tax gain for the town from this; it will only take business from other existing stores. What it will bring is chaos at an already incredibly congested intersection, more trash, more teenagers hanging out constantly and having to be shooed away, even more unhealthy foods for students to eat, and potentially crime."

In a letter to the Zoning Board dated Feb. 2 and signed by Beth Daugherty, facilities chairperson of the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education, Daugherty stated that the board is concerned that the 7-Eleven will create a safety concern as students are attracted to "an already congested area," and cross a busy intersection to access the store. The board is also concerned that the proposed store will provide "a venue for persons outside the school district to congregate and loiter with CHS students for undesirable purposes."

The board asks that, if the variance for a second use is granted for the site, that the developer include an additional sidewalk on the eastern side of the property and post signage to reduce pedestrian traffic through the gas station, install 24-hour security cameras that are linked to the police station, enforce no loitering rules and install a 6-foot chain link fence to close off the area behind the store.

The letter is currently on file at town hall though it is not admissible into evidence until and unless a board of education member reads it aloud at the zoning board hearing (the Board of Education has a conflicting meeting tonight at 525 Academy Street to discuss approval of the ). The letter says the board of education discussed the proposal at its Jan. 19 meeting and met with Ali Enterprises on Feb. 1.

In response to an email request from Patch, Mayor Vic DeLuca weighed in on Thursday, Feb. 10:

"I think the proposed 1,800-square foot convenience store for the Parker & Valley intersection is a bad idea. The current level of traffic is already significant, particularly with the activity at the high school in both day and night. Already there is a compromised line of sight when traveling east bound on Parker."

DeLuca continued: "I support bringing business to town but it must be done in a strategic manner and in a way that does not diminish the residential quality of life. Adding a second business to the already conditional use of a gas station is not strategic development and is only an effort to squeeze more revenue from that property for the owner. There is no beneficial use by adding a convenience store there."

The hearing for the variance was originally scheduled for Feb. 7 but the attorney for Ali Enterprise, Inc. in order to address concerns expressed by the school district.

Editor's Note: This proposal is separate from the 7 in September 2010 and the avenues. The Parker Avenue and Valley Street 7-Eleven would be the third 7-Eleven location in Maplewood.

mark slade March 07, 2011 at 12:46 PM
Why doesn't Ali Enterprises use the former Blimpie site just a block away for the 7/11?
Jim March 07, 2011 at 08:26 PM
Because they have a second agenda. There where violations for the underground gas storage tanks, they are leaking and contaminating the soil to the North of the station, towards the river. All the residents in the neighborhood where sent notices a while back. I do believe that the station was given a notice to replace the tanks. This is a huge undertaking and costly. Now if the station could add a store they could midigate some of the cost. The only way I see them making anything on the deal would be to get rid of the raised planted area's remove the pumps and islands and startt from scrach. Now if these are the facts, then we're looking at a whole new station and I'm sure that current zoning regulations are a lot stiffer then when the station was first built, they might not even be able to build one there.
Lydia Shay March 08, 2011 at 04:59 PM
Dang Gummit you are right on target! A resident for 40 years I have also seen many changes some good, some bad but most of all I am amazed at my dealings in Town Hall. Everything truly falls on deaf ears. Fact: I think the biggest offense is the fact that anyone can move in to a house and excavate and do whatever they want no matter how irritating it can be for neighbors for 3 years and you as the irritated neighbors have no recourse. The building office has decided that no permission is required from existing neighbors as to what they want or giving any notification to existing homeowners to what will be taking place and for how long. Now that is a freakin' crime. The exact quote given to me by the inspector was "they can do whatever they want for as long as they want - you can't do anything about it". But when I complained about a gas leak and PSE&G came out and walked up and down the street making markings of percentages of gas leaks which was found to be for 3 houses and I went to Town Hall and voiced my concerns for umph time - 8 years later no one has done anything about it. I guess the only thing that will get their attention will be a huge explosion. Some one has to light a fuse under their a_____es to get them to do anything. Yes, Dang Gummit you are absolutely right! And while I'm o the subject why does Maplewood need (3) 24 hour 7-11's in Town. We don't need undesirables in Maplewood at 3 o'clock in the morning.
Dang March 08, 2011 at 06:54 PM
Thanks Lydia for being my only supporter on this issue. It seems that stagnation is the name of the game in Maplewood, especially when it comes to politics. My mother was having a problem with her next door neighbor for over 2 years about her roof falling apart and all the debris hitting her house and scattering all over her property. She called town hall on several occassions, complained to the building department and even talked to the Mayor himself when he was in the neighborhood and still nothing was ever done. My Daughter almost lost an eye one day during a visit when a piece of debris came flying down and hit her on the head. Two years of complaints and nothing was ever done except issuing a summons to my mother for an old garage on the property that was in need of a paint job. Why? because the neighbor used to work for the town, so getting things done would be on her schedule not anyone elses. I remember as a kid my Father had purchased a camper to use for weekend getaways but was not allowed to park it in the driveway but he would take rides around town and see other houses with campers in their driveways and nothing was ever done about it. I think term limits should be imposed on building inspectors , mayors , councilmen/women to keep things fresh and moving along, when people get comfortable they start to let things slide or do favors for people they know or have done business with in the past.
Dang March 08, 2011 at 06:54 PM
If you start to screw up at work you get fired, plain and simple. I keep reading all the time about change change change but never see it. If this town really wants change maybe it's time to reconsider an out with the old in with the new approach and see what happens. They can spruce up the town all they want but without effective leadership and a willingness to change were still at square one.
Dang March 08, 2011 at 07:25 PM
I borrowed this from an article I read a year or so ago and thought it was appropriate for the subject: Why does our little state produce such a bumper crop of pigs-at-the-public-trough. Is it the huge number of governments we support (more municipalities than California and more school boards than Maryland, Delaware and Virginia combined)? Or the small salaries that tend to attract less educated leaders? (And what’s the alternative, pay more to the kind of character who is so easily bought?)
Nick Muson March 08, 2011 at 07:45 PM
Oh fer cryin' out loud already! Holy curmudgeon, Batman!

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