A cadre of planning experts offered testimony in support of an application for the Toms River Township BJ’s store to build a filling station and add an area for propane tank refills. Following the hearing, which took place Wednesday night, the board unanimously approved the application.
George Matteo, the attorney representing BJ’s, told board members the big-box wholesale store does not own the shopping center, building or parking lot where it is located. The gas pumps had been proposed to be installed in the parking area behind the Value City Furniture store that is locate don the same property. There will be six “islands” with 12 pump nozzles each – one on each side – and a canopy over the filling area.
“Over the gas islands there will be a canopy and an attendant kiosk underneath,” said Matteo. “We are not increasing any of the impervious coverage from what already exists in the parking area.”
The attorney said BJ’s is in the process of adding fuel stations to stores nationwide. Of the company’s 227 stores, 158 have gas stations.
James Thaon, the engineer on the project, said the gas station will be open to the public – New Jersey law does not allow members-only access to fuel retailers – and will operate from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., except Sundays, when the station will close at 8 p.m.
The company will install two 20,000 gallon underground tanks which will be filled with “regular” 87 octane gasoline. A third, 24,000 gallon tank, will be divided between “premium” 93 octane fuel and diesel. An electronic measuring system will utilize sensors to track fuel levels in the tanks, and trucks are automatically dispatched to deliver fuel when it drops to a certain point.
There will be two entrance drives into the gas station area.
“It’s a one-way operation through the facility,” explained Thaon. “On the northern side of the canopy they provide a generous, 40-foot drive aisle. Once you pull through the canopy, you have the ability to make a left or right.”
The gas station will “comfortably” handle 36 cars, with 12 being filled at a given time and 24 waiting in a queue.
Vehicles can exit the shopping center or re-direct back to the BJ’s store after filling their tank. The gas station will cost the property 138 parking spaces, however the site still exceeds the minimum number of spaces required under township zoning laws. After the station is built, 689 parking spaces will remain where 651 are required.
BJ’s will also install a free air station for filling tires, plus a propane tank refill area. Under a system developed by BJ’s, cars will pull up to the propane-filling area, press a button on an intercom, and an employee will come to unlock the gate and fill the tank.