CRANFORD, NJ — On Monday, Feb. 6, a zoning board meeting was held in Cranford for residents to voice their concerns and ask any questions they might have had about the application to build a 7-Eleven at 49 South Ave. W. After listening the the residents, the board voted to deny the application.
“It was denied unanimously,” Phyllis Kivett-Howard of Cranford told LocalSource in an email on Feb. 10. “All seven board members said no. It was a packed house and many residents spoke. We were ecstatic on the outcome. Now, we hope something better suited goes in that spot.”
Residents such as Kivett-Howard made suggestions recently as to what would be better suited to the location. One suggestion was that the town’s rescue squad be moved to the location since its current location on Centennial Avenue is in a flood zone.
“The board denied the application because the release wasn’t consistent with the master plan,” Assistant Zoning Officer and Board Administrator Trish Cullen told LocalSource over the phone Feb. 10. “They were asking for about 17 different variances, and the construction of a convenience store isn’t permitted in that area. It’s a residential and office zone. They were asking for a lot which is why they were denied. There were a lot of residents that came to speak at the meeting on Feb. 6. There were about 15 to 20 opposing the application. The majority of the meeting was spent listening to what the residents had to say about the application.”
When Mayor Tom Hannen, Deputy Mayor Patrick Giblin and Commissioner Mary O’Connor were asked to comment on the board’s decision by LocalSource, they replied with “no comment” on the matter on Feb. 10.
“We put our trust in the zoning board to follow regulations and the process they went through to make their decision,” Commissioner Andis Kalnins told LocalSource over the phone on Feb. 10.
When the applicant’s attorney Jason Tuvel, was contacted by LocalSource, no response was received prior to press time Feb. 14. At the Feb. 6 meeting, Tuvel outlined the positive and negative criteria before the board. Tuvel said the site is suitable for a convenience store because of the layout of the site. He cited that there are already commercial uses in the area, that investment is necessary to clean up the site and the proposed use serves need and demand. A traffic study concluded that the use will function safely and developing a vacant lot and adding landscaping to a fully paved lot were reasons to approve the variance.
Residents expressed concerns about their safety because they felt the convenience store would cause an increase in traffic. One resident brought a photo of the 7-Eleven on Grove Street in Westfield with a side entrance like the one the applicant proposed to build in Cranford. A delivery truck was blocking a driveway in the photo.
One resident mentioned that the 7-Eleven might bring in extra revenue for the town, and that the convenience store had its pros and cons.
“I see it as good and bad,” Theodore Mann of Cranford said at the Feb. 6 meeting. “I’m not for or against it.”
Some residents had environmental concerns regarding the construction of the convenience store.
“I’m concerned about the environmental effects,” Genevieve Leonard of Cranford said at the Feb. 6 meeting. “I’m concerned about pollution, and I see a lot of birds in that area.”
Other residents expressed concerns about property value, and that the 7-Eleven would discourage people from buying a home in Cranford.
“I don’t know anyone who would say, ‘show me the home near the 7-Eleven because that’s where I want to live,’” Ellen Kealy of Cranford said at the meeting. “If anyone is thinking about moving here they will think twice in the future if there’s a 7-Eleven here.”