OAKLAND – Should Lukoil / Tire Tech be allowed to expand its business at 357 Ramapo Valley Road to the long vacant Oakland Drugs property?
The borough council will consider this issue on Monday when it deals with an appeal challenging the July zoning council’s approval of a use waiver that would allow Lukoil tenant Ellahi Fuel Inc. to use. the Oakland Drugs building for its tire, auto repair and towing businesses.
The appeal was filed in September by resident Jean Brennan of 422 W. Oakland Ave., 2 miles south of the gas station. Brennan confirmed that it was also the address of her partner Timothy Kelso’s Patriot Towing business, but denied that reducing competition was the goal of her appeal.
“The Lukoil property looks awful,” Brennan said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “There are tires everywhere, cars everywhere. If they are allowed to use the pharmacy, it will be 10 times worse. It will create a horror in the city center.”
The Zoning Council held five hearings on the proposed use exemption. Plaintiff Sam Ellahi has rented the Lukoil station for “many years,” according to his attorney, Ben Cascio.
Converting the pharmacy to a garage / warehouse would allow Ellahi to “clean up the exterior elements,” Cascio said.
“The aim is to clean up the Lukoil site,” Cascio said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “Same entrance, same parking lot. There might actually be less traffic than when the pharmacy was open.”
Both properties were part of a rezoning master plan in 2012, in which gas stations moved from licensed use to conditional use in an effort to encourage a more attractive retail area along Ramapo. Valley Road. A conditional use requires the satisfaction of several criteria.
Borough Engineer John Yakimik and Borough Planner Steve Lydon both testified against the request in July.
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Yakimik asked if the site will provide adequate parking and said the applicant did not submit an authoritative traffic report.
Lydon called automotive-related use “directly contrary to the requirements of the master plan.”
“I think automotive-related use is incompatible with downtown intent,” he told the board. “You had a planning board that passed a part of a master plan saying we don’t want downtown auto uses. “
Richard Lepre, chairman of the zoning board, called the proposal a “good idea, just in the wrong place” during the hearing, calling the plaintiff a “good neighbor, pro-city”.
“I find it a stretch to call this site truly appropriate,” Lepre said in comments before the vote. “I am sorry to say that what I see does not bring me to the point where I think the positive criteria have been met, especially the suitability of the site.”
However, when the votes took place, Lepre cast the fifth decisive vote in his favor.
“I bet that really surprised you,” Lepre said after voting.
Vice-President Anthony Smid expressed the only “no”, without further comment.
Brennan argued in her appeal that the vote was contrary to the evidence presented and should be overturned.
The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. on Monday.
Marsha Stoltz is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Oakland NJ: Lukoil / Tire Tech auto repair expansion challenged