Brouhaha over Sunoco Station on Willow Grove Road continues

Residents say “nay” to proposed improvements to current gas station/mini-mart on Willow Grove Road (Photo: Kathy Kahn)

Dueling lawyers go to bat over mini-mart upgrade in Stony Point

BY KATHY KAHN 

A post-WW2 gas station/mini mart that hosts a Dunkin’ Donuts has applied to the Planning Board to make upgrades and improvements to the site on Willow Grove Road, but residents who live in the development that was built several years after the gas station was built want it to remain “as is,” saying making it bigger will cause more traffic to the rural-residentially zoned area.

According to the applicant’s counsel, Dwight Joyce, Jagdish Patel, who has owned the Sunoco Station for 15 years, wants to add bathrooms for customers and an additional second story for storage to cut down on the number of deliveries being made to the site.

Applicant Jagdish Patel’s attorney, Dwight Joyce at podium; the residents’ attorney Kevin Conway (seated) listens (Photo: Kathy Kahn)

“It will definitely cut down on the number of trucks now delivering to the site on an almost daily basis,” said Joyce. “The applicant is NOT going to put in tables for Dunkin’ Donuts or a drive-through window, as many fear. It will have bathrooms for the public. The gas pumps are also going to be switched out for two with longer hoses so customers can gas up from either side of the pump, eliminating a need to wait on line.”

Sometime during the 1980s, the former owner applied for a variance to add a mini-mart to the gas station. “The property in question was made part of the Algonquin Road development at that time,” said Joyce, “and the applicant wants to improve the way it looks and make getting in and out easier for customers.”

Residents are clearly unhappy with the changes, with many saying deliveries to the site begin at 5:30 a.m.. The station is open from 6 a.m. – 10 pm.

As it currently exists, the Sunoco mini-mart is problematic for people trying to get in and out at peak times. Although a traffic study was done, some questioned the time it was made—in October in the early afternoon. “There are a lot of school buses on Willow Grove/Algonquin Drive intersection,” said one resident. “I would like to see Algonquin Road not used as an exit for people coming to the site.”

Planning Chair Tom Gubitosa and other board members had questions for Joyce about the proposed changes. While residents shared concern over the creek behind the store, the Sunoco station is already hooked up to municipal water and sewer. The exit planned for Algonquin Road is also being challenged by neighbors.

The Planning Board left the public hearing open until January 2018. “The applicant is basically trying to upgrade the site,” said Gubitosa. The Sunoco station was made part of the development behind it when the former owner applied for and received approval to put a mini-mart in the latter part of the last century.