Good news: The Zoning Board didn’t ok adding a convenience store to the Exxon station at the busy corner of Hillside & Main. Or rather they didn’t approve it at the December meeting.
But that doesn’t mean the Zoning Board won’t approve it on Tuesday, January 30, 2024, when the hearing on the Exxon application continues! (7:00 PM at Borough Hall, 54 Fairmount Avenue)
That January 30 hearing may be your last chance to find out what’s going on and have your say before the Zoning Board votes to waive at least eighteen normal zoning rules for the sole benefit of the new owner of the Exxon station.∞
This hearing promises to be a fun one. We’re expecting to hear the new owner’s hired traffic expert testify that the intersection of Hillside and Main is ok, and can handle more cars and trucks on the road and darting in and out of the Exxon lot.
Please join your friends and neighbors at the hearing on the Exxon convenience store at 7 PM on January 30 at Borough Hall, 54 Fairmount Avenue. (Use the side entrance and take the elevator to the upper level Council Chambers.)
*The author has chosen to abstain from participating in or voting on this issue in her capacity as an alternate member of the Historic Preservation Commission.
That 5/8/23 tree removal application was not decided because the trees were not marked, according to the DPW.
However, the new Exxon owner also designated that evergreen for removal in his pending application for variances necessary to replace the Exxon garage with a convenience store. (See p. 193 of the site plan in the 9/27/23 Zoning Board agenda package linked here: https://chathamborough.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=1)
Instead of waiting to resolve that issue at the next HPC meeting (set for 10/17/23) or at the Zoning Board hearing (then set for 10/25/23),** the new Exxon owner simply authorized next door neighbor Liberty Drug (195 Main Street, block 122/lot 1) to chop down the evergreen, according to DPW and the man behind the counter at Liberty.
On or about October 10, that evergreen tree vanished, stump and all, leaving no way to determine if the diameter of the trunk did in fact exceed 6” as the new Exxon owner had claimed on 5/8/23 and, as such, required a permit.
An official claimed the diameter of the trunk was less than 6” but so far has not provided any evidence.
Whether or not the new owner technically enjoyed the right to fell that healthy tree without a permit, by authorizing an intermediary (Liberty) to do the job before the Zoning Board could even hear his case, in effect the new Exxon owner sidestepped meaningful review of a critical aspect of his variance application.
At the October 17 meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission, and without mentioning the disappearance of the evergreen tree, a lawyer for the new Exxon owner presented a new store design intended to address many of the other concerns raised at the previous HPC meeting, but he was unable to answer several important questions, including some about that missing tree.
The lawyer agreed to return to the Historic Preservation Commission on November 21, along with an expert who can answer the outstanding questions. ***
More important than the loss of one tree is the principle at stake.
Will the Historic Preservation Commission and Zoning Board properly address the new owner’s flagrant flouting of the normal procedures for reviewing variance applications, or will they let it pass, in effect condoning similar behavior in the future?
*The author has elected to abstain from participating in or voting on this matter in her capacity as an alternate member of the Commission.
** The new Exxon owner postponed the Zoning Board hearing on his variance application to the November 15 meeting of the Zoning Board, but as of October 25, it appears the application won’t be heard until the December 20 Zoning Board meeting because the next HPC meeting isn’t until November 21. https://chathamborough.org/resident/calendar/zoning-board-2-1698276600
*** See meeting video, starting approx. minute 58:50. https://vimeo.com/875962789
This hearing is your chance to get the facts, ask questions, and comment on the proposal BEFORE the Zoning Board decides whether or not to waive our normal zoning rules to allow the addition of a convenience store to the Main Street Exxon station. Everyone is welcome to attend.
* The author has elected not to vote or otherwise participate in this matter in her capacity as an alternate commissioner.
Would you like to see a convenience store/gas station in Chatham’s Main Street Historic District?
Should our Zoning Board waive the normal rules to allow that?* **
Come to the public Zoning Board hearing.
NEW NEW Date!
December 20, 7:30 pm, at Chatham Borough Hall, 54 Fairmount Avenue, upper level.
What’s this all about?
The new owner of the Exxon station on Main Street hopes to add a convenience store that’s inconsistent with our Borough Zoning laws.. To go ahead, he must convince the Zoning Board that adding that store would be good for Chatham.***
By keeping long hours – often all night – convenience stores average 1,400 transactions per day, and most patrons (65%) consume their purchases on the spot. “Litter can be a significant challenge,” notes the trade association that advocates for the industry. @