Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sonic: The Epilogue

Recently it has been brought to the attention of the HNJJ that many residents are not familiar with the Sonic Restaurant application that was heard by the Hillsborough Township Planning Board from the summer of 2010 until the withdrawal of the application in March, 2011. Although HNJJ covered this application with six posts, we never provided an epilogue, the final chapter, a conclusion.

In August, 2010 HNJJ reported that Thomas Mascia submitted an application to build a Sonic drive-in fast-food restaurant on an undersized 1.5-acre lot on Route 206 and at the corner of Oxford Place. As proposed, the application needed multiple variances and waivers and included a huge freestanding sign.

On September 2, 2010, the Hillsborough Township Planning Board began hearing the application with testimony from the applicant and his engineer and questions from the dozen-or-so neighbors who attended the meeting.

By the October 8th meeting the neighbors behind the proposed restaurant had organized and hired an attorney. After a jurisdictional dispute was raised, the application was carried to December.

With the December meeting approaching, Sonic made a few minor changes.

By the December 9th, 2010, meeting the number of neighbors attending had swelled to about one-hundred. The applicant's traffic expert and engineer testified. The giant sign still loomed large over the hearing. And...the application was carried.

In February, 2011, the HNJJ was reporting on one of the most contentious hearings, a three-hour-long meeting. The neighbors had incorporated. Their planning expert testified and members of the public commented. Unexpectedly
"...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."
This caused a little uproar in the chambers. The hearing recessed for a few minutes while the board attorney spoke with the engineers and planners.

The application was carried to March 10th at which time Sonic was ordered to submit its new site plan incorporating the wetlands.

But this was not to be. In a letter to the Board, Tom Mascia's attorney withdrew the application.

For those wishing further information,two posts of the Planning Board Minutes:

September 02, 2010

October 07, 2010

No comments: