The new Delta gas station on Franklin Turnpike appeared to have a strange grand opening plan – at the end of last week it was open, the beginning of this week, it had been shut down, and by the end of this week, it had reopened.
At Monday night’s planning board meeting, Chairman Todd Sherer revealed the business had been cited by township construction official Gary Montroy for opening before its tenant application was officially approved by the town.
When Sherer asked why the signage at 147 Franklin Turnpike had been changed from the station’s previous occupant – Lukoil – to Delta signs, and the station started operating before getting the proper approvals, Kuldip Singh, the applicant representing station owner Westfield Consultants, told the board it was “my bad.”
“We submitted all the applications, so I understood we were good to go,” he said. “Then we were asked to close down until we got approval from the board.”
Though board members chuckled at the applicant’s response, Sherer told him Mahwah “takes enforcing township laws very seriously, so if you don’t know the rules, please ask beforehand.”
The board also told the applicant it needed approvals from fire code officials before it could resume operations.
The board did not grant permission for the tenant approval without first warning Singh that it wanted to avoid a controversial parking issue that came up last year between the former tenant at that location, who operated a Lukoil gas station, and residents who live behind it.
Lukoil’s tenant application turned into a six-month hearing last year as residents questioned an arrangement between the Lukoil and neighboring business Flyte Tyme Limousine. The businesses argued a fleet of seven Flyte Tyme vehicles was being serviced and inspected by that gas station daily, which made parking the vehicles at the gas station an accepted practice in the township.
However, neighbors who complained of a view of Flyte Tyme trucks and buses said they were being store at the station, which would not be allowed.
The board decided to allow the arrangement, with some restrictions, last December. Planning Board member Jerry Crean pointed out Monday that “we finally got that issue settled, and [the Lukoil was] gone within 30 days.”
Singh said he will be leasing the garage portion of the station to another business, but told the board “we’ll make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
However, in response to questioning by Board Member Ward Donigian, Planning Board attorney Peter Scandariato pointed out that the town cannot legally limit the size of vehicles serviced at the station.
Though the board granted the tenant approval, allowing for the new station to open this week, the board asked Singh to be respectful of its new neighbors.
Westfield owns other gas stations throughout Bergen County, but this is its first in Mahwah.