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Wawa, Shopping Center Turned Down for Route 88 in Brick

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Route 88 and Jack Martin Boulevard. (Credit: Google Maps)
Route 88 and Jack Martin Boulevard. (Credit: Google Maps)

A proposal to build a Wawa store with adjacent commercial development has been turned down by the Brick Township Board of Adjustment.

The board denied an application developer Jack Morris, through his company JSM at Martin Boulevard, to turn what was once a large trailer home development into a shopping complex. The Laurelton Mobile Home Park was purchased by Morris for $3.85 million, with the intent of the developer to turn most of the trailer park into commercial space while leasing out space for some remaining mobile homes.

Earlier this month, the board refused to grant JSM at Martin Boulevard a use variance to build the Wawa, which would have included 16 fuel pumps. The property is not zoned for such a use. Likewise, the board denied a number of bulk variances – generally considered to be more minor than changing the use of a property – for issues such as setbacks, lot coverage and signage.

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In addition to the 5,000-plus square foot Wawa with 135 parking spaces, Morris’ plan called for the construction of a 4,535 square foot bank with drive-through lanes, a 7,182 square foot commercial building including a 3,000 square foot, 160 seat restaurant, and a 9,288 square foot daycare center.

The purchase of the mobile home park by Morris has been the source of numerous controversies since 2005. Residents, at one point, were served eviction notices after they withheld rent from Morris, who they accused of allowing the community to deteriorate. In 2006, it was determined that concrete tainted with traces of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the former Ford Motor Company manufacturing plant in Edison was used at the site, prompting the state Department of Environmental Protection to order its removal.

After being delayed for about a year, JSM’s application was heard at the Jan. 3, 2018 board meeting. News of the denial came through a public notice filed by the township which did not cite the reasons behind the denial. Meeting minutes were not yet available, as they must be approved by the board at a future meetings before publication.