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Empty Gas Station at 63 E. Main St. May Re-Open

The Planning Board requested a resolution approving the re-opening of the gas station.

The empty gas station at 63 Main St. may soon have permission to re-open.

After over nine hours of testimony at Planning Board meetings, the governing body requested Wednesday that the board attorney draft a resolution giving the owner of the site permission to operate it as a gas station again.

Rakkesh Kumar of HRS investments bought the former gas station back in 2004. In January of this year, Kumar's was denied by the Planning Board.

However, , Kumar applied to the Freehold Borough Code Enforcement Office for a permit to re-open a gas station. Code Enforcement Officer Henry “Hank” Stryker approved the application as a pre-existing nonconforming use. However, a Freehold Borough resident appealed Stryker’s decision.

According to the April 25 planning board meeting minutes, Lisa Friera appealed the permit because she felt Stryker didn’t have the authority to give approval. Friera said the zoning application should have gone before the Planning Board, which she believed had the jurisdictional authority to grant or deny the use.

At the April 25 and , Friera presented evidence and called witnesses before the board in an attempt to prove that the owner of the site has left it abandoned and therefore not eligible for the approved permit.

The board voted 5-3 that Friera met her burden of proof on May 8.

On June 13, Kumar presented his case with the help of his attorney, Mark Williams of . The board decided in Kumar's favor that he should not need to go before the board for a use variance.

A straw poll of the planning board indicated that six members felt he did not abandon the gas station and Stryker ruled correctly, and three felt the site was abandoned.

Kevin Lewis, Bob Oakes, Garry Jackson, Adam Reich, Bill Barricelli voted in favor of Stryker's ruling. Danielle Sims, Councilman George Schnurr, Joy Goetz indicated their belief that the site had been abandoned.

The board authorized the Planning Board attorney to prepare a resolution supporting Stryker’s initial ruling.

At its next meeting, the board will officially vote on the resolution for Kumar to re-open the site as a gas station. Both sides are rested and there will be no more testimony.

The next meeting will be on Wednesday, June 27.

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Richard June 14, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Here we go again
Elizabeth Slade June 15, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Honestly after following and attending the planning board meetings, I feel Mr. Kumar has no intention of really doing anything with the property. He could've opened the gas station when he purchased it in 2004. He stated he changed his mind and wanted to open an office building and got a permit for it, then decided it was not feasibly possible for him to do so. He made no attempt to open the property as a gas station after his decision not to put up an office building. He made no attempt to rent the property and as far as I could make out from his testimony. The only reason he had planters on the property was due to the town telling him he had too. I believe he removed the art panels due his application for the 7-11 was denied. I do not think Mr. Kumar has any interest in our town at all based on his actions. If he does open a business,it would need the patronage of the town, however, I do not think the citizens of Freehold Boro would patronize his business since his actions have alienated most folks, in my humble opinion.
Larry Desmond June 21, 2012 at 02:35 PM
No matter what type of business is put there, as long as its owned buy Mr. Kumar, I will never use it.

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