Friday, February 11, 2011

Sonic: Over and Over I Keep Going Over...

Sonic's proposal for a restaurant at the corner of Route 206 and Oxford Place may or may not have become yet more problematic for the applicant as his attorney and engineer revealed, at the end of last night's almost three-hour-long planning board meeting, that their site contains wetlands.

Ron Gasiorowski, the attorney for the neighbors objecting to the Sonic proposal, opened the meeting by announcing that his clients had joined together as Save Our Neighborhood, Inc. Approximately 50 residents attended the hearing.

P. David Zimmerman, the neighbor's planning expert, then testified regarding the design of the building, the variances, the signage, the impervious coverage, setbacks, and the visual environment of the proposed building compared to the surrounding area. He testified that he felt there was "too much on too little property."

Five residents of the community then testified that they were concerned about traffic, garbage pickup, power washing, trucks, parking, lighting, noise from Sonic customers, overbuilding for the lot size, and the general impact on the quality of life in the area.

Following the public comments, Sonic's attorney Donald Whitelaw addressed the board about a clarification on their site plan that would require an amendment. According to their engineer Brett Skapinetz the NJDEP had just advised them that there were wetlands at the rear of the property about 20-feet off the rear lot line requiring changes in the site plan particularly in the stormwater management.

Attorney Gasiorowki objected to this testimony so late in the meeting and demanded that the planning board vote on the plan as presented. Sonic's attorney stated that they were merely "advising the board of a change of conditions."

Several members of the audience complained loudly about the last-minute information, asking for an immediate vote.

At the request of the board's attorney, the hearing recessed for a few minutes in order to allow the attorney to speak privately with the engineers and planners.

When the meeting reconvened, the application was carried to the March 10th Hillsborough Township Planning Board meeting at which time Sonic must submit its new site plan.

Enjoy Frank Sinatra while you read...It just seemed appropriate. For you youngsters who don't know the lyrics, go here.

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