Traffic Still Major Concern For Wawa Plan Near Lake Riviera

Residents again packed the zoning board for a meeting on a Wawa for Route 70 and Duquesne. The hearing continues March 8. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

BRICK – For the third time, Lake Riviera residents filled the meeting room where the Board of Adjustment held a special meeting to hear more testimony from attorneys, land use planners, traffic experts, developers and others for a proposed commercial development on the corner of Duquesne Blvd. and Route 70 that would include a Wawa convenience store and gas station, and a drive-through restaurant.

It was also the third time the Lake Riviera residents were not able to voice their concerns since the meeting ended before public comment was held.

“They don’t want to hear what we have to say,” exclaimed one of the residents to a crowd in the hallway after the February 22 meeting.

That’s not true, said Board of Adjustment Chair Harvey Langer. Public comment is always held after the professionals have completed their testimony and their application has been presented in full.

The residents could add their input before public comment by hiring an attorney, he added.

“I apologize it’s taking this long. It’s a big application and these applications can take a long time,” Langer said before adjourning the meeting.

Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn

Attorney John Jackson represented the developer Paramount Realty Services, and he questioned professional land use planner Christine Cofone, traffic consultant John H. Rea and others who were hired by Paramount to testify on their behalf.

Cofone analyzed the site and explained that nine variances were needed “which is the reason we’re here,” she said.

The 4.967 acre site is in a split zone. Most of the parcel is in a business zone. One section on the corner of Duquesne and Route 70 is in an office professional zone. A single lot on the eastern section fronting North Lake Shore Drive is in a residential zone.

The residential lot would be used for an entryway into the complex, which is not a permitted use for the land, Cafone explained. Paramount is also seeking variances for setbacks, parking and signage.

“It’s a unique piece of property, which is why it’s appropriate for this use,” she said. “It’s a major signalized intersection on a major intersection that is a thoroughfare for 1,500 cars an hour at peak time.”

She called the property “the last piece of the puzzle along Route 70, There is nothing left in this corridor to develop, which lends the site being particularly suitable.”

Brick’s Master Plan characterizes the area surrounding the nearby Brick Plaza the most intensely developed area in town, and the Wawa complex would be “exactly the type of development Brick envisions in its Master Plan,” Cofone said.

An 80-foot long, eight-foot-high sound wall, and eight-foot-tall evergreens would separate the commercial complex from homes that abut the rear of the complex, she said.

“That would mitigate any negatives on setbacks,” Cofone said. “I see no substantial detriment to the public.”

  Langer proposed that the two-way entrance to the complex on North Lake Shore Drive be a one-way, entrance-only to alleviate traffic that could potentially exit into local Lake Riviera streets.

Some audience members clapped at this suggestion. Langer admonished the crowd a number of times not to shout, clap or call out during the proceedings.

Board member Louis Sorrentino, who used to live in Lake Riviera, said he didn’t like the suggested change to the entryway because Lake Riviera residents would have to exit onto Route 70 and make a right turn at the lighted intersection in order to get home.

“People were concerned that drivers would make a right turn and drive right through their neighborhood,” Langer said. “Last week it was a big concern.”

Jackson said that residents had expressed worries that the parking spaces in the complex would be used by nearby businesses. He said that parking would only be allowed there for people who are using the businesses onsite, and a two-hour parking limit would likely be imposed.

The application would continue at another special meeting to be held on March 8 at 7 p.m.