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Residents Rally Against 24-Hour Sunoco Proposal

Neighbors start petition to stop conversion of gas station to 24-hour fueling station/convenience store.

Residents are fighting a proposal to convert Sunoco to a 24-hour gas station/convenience store. Photo by Mike Deak
Residents are fighting a proposal to convert Sunoco to a 24-hour gas station/convenience store. Photo by Mike Deak
Written by Mike Deak

Sometimes the little guys have a chance against the big guys.

In this case, the little guys are a group of residents who live near the intersection of Route 28 and Country Club Road. The big guy is Sunoco, which operates more than 4,900 service stations along the East Coast and, according to its corporate website, annually sells $700 million of gasoline.

The neighbors are fighting a $2.1 million proposal by Sunoco to covert its gas station on the Bridgewater and Raritan border to a 24-hour combination convenience store and gas station. Sunoco has about 400 of the APlus stores.

The neighbors won a strategic victory at Tuesday’s zoning Board of Adjustment meeting when Timothy Prime, Sunoco’s attorney, asked for a delay so that the company could reconsider its proposal to operate the store 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The 24-hour operation was the primary target of the neighbors.

Though Sunoco requires a use variance to open a convenience store at the gas station that has been at the busy intersection for four decades, Bridgewater does not have an ordinance that would prohibit the business from operating 24 hours a day.

More than a dozen residents of both Bridgewater and Raritan came to the meeting to deliver the message that the 24-hour store would adversely affect the quality of life in their neighborhood.

“We do not want a 24-hour store next to our house,” Country Club Road resident Donna Casagrande said.

Her husband, Gary, went from house to house in the neighborhood to collect 100 signatures on a petition opposing Sunoco’s plan. He prepared a map that shows where all the signers of the petition live.

In addition, he has also started a website, http://stopsunoco.com/ to gather more signatures on the petition.

Many residents told the board how the neighborhood had been disrupted when the gas station was open 24 hours a day years ago.

“I was happy when it stopped 24 hours,” said Grace Latosky of 702 Riverside Ave., Raritan, adding that the beeping sounds of delivery trucks backing up in the middle of the night used to wake her.

Another resident said it was a “blessing” when the station stopped operating 24 hours.

Country Club Road resident Aldo Adriazola said he doubted the convenience store “would do anything for the quality of the neighborhood.” He also decried the present condition of the gas station.

“It’s a dump,” Adriazola said.

Former Raritan Borough Councilwoman Maureen Wilson, a Columbus Avenue resident, also criticized the plan.

“I think it’s a negative,” she said. “It’s a residential zone. Let’s keep it that way.”

Donna Casagrande said that the 24-hour Quick Chek in Raritan Borough has experienced problems with teenagers loitering in the parking lot.

“We don’t want that in our neighborhood,” she said.

Representatives of the company said that the store and parking lot will be under constant television surveillance by corporate security personnel in Philadelphia. They said that the security personnel could order loiterers to move through a loud speaker.

In addition, the representatives said, APlus offers local police officers free coffee to encourage them to patrol the area.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment will vote Aug. 6 on the plan.        
               
Julian Rinaldi June 28, 2013 at 03:37 PM
$700,000,000 divided by 4,900 stations is about $150,000 per station per year. I think your $700 million figure is off by a few dozen billions of dollars.
Ron Owens June 30, 2013 at 11:05 PM
We in Mountain Lakes and Parsippany feel your pain. We're fighting to preserve 26+ acres of woodland that developers wish to transform into a strip mall, a super market, and 65 townhomes. Great job on your web site! We wish you well! CITIZENS FOR HEALTH, SAFTY, and WELFARE .

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