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A Camden County Judge has reversed a Planning Board decision to allow a WaWa store to be constructed in Winslow Township. The lawsuit is entitled S&N Multani et al v. Winslow Township Planning Board, et al, Docket Number CAM-L_1281-21.
At issue is whether a combined gasoline retail station/ and mini-market operation was allowed by local zoning . The local zoning did allow for retail sales, but did not allow for gasoline sales.
Gasoline sales are allowed in other Winslow Township zones. The planning board granted approval to WaWa ruling that the use was allowed as of right. The plaintiffs filed suit arguing that the local zoning did not allow for retail gasoline sales, and therefore the case should have been heard by the zoning board, not the planning board.
Lieberman Blecher and Sinkevich represented the plaintiffs, who were successful in this lawsuit. They argued that the local zoning was clear, and it did not allow this kind of operation without a use variance from the zoning board. Planning boards cannot legally grant use variances. In court, Wawa argued that the Winslow zoning was obsolete, and that WaWa stores are now hybrid operations that were not considered when the current zoning laws were adopted.
The trial court agreed with the plaintiffs and reversed the Planning Board resolution allowing the Wawa to br constructed. Wawa was ordered to appear before there Zoning Board should it wish to continue.
The point is clear: old zoning laws are still zoning laws and cannot be ignored. While zoning updates are always useful, Planning Boards are bound by the zoning laws that are in effect.
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