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UNION TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- One-hundred forty residents of Union Township, N.J., packed into a municipal building to voice concerns over Pilot Travel Centers' proposal to revamp an existing travel center at exit 12 on route 78, reported the Star-Ledger.
Pilot predicts 1,600 visitors per day will come to the stop, resulting in a 60 percent increase in truck traffic. However, residents' concerns range from pollution and crime to noise, reported the newspaper.
"It just doesn't seem to me that you want to hold yourself to the highest standards possible," resident Frank Goldberg told representatives for Pilot at the meeting. "What I've heard from you is that 'It's better than what's there.' We know what's there."
The existing diner at Johnny's will be replaced by a Subway sandwich shop and convenience store. The existing fuel pumps will be replaced with new gas and diesel fuel dispensers and laundry machines could be installed for truckers' use.
The proposal also includes a 7,956-square-foot exterior, upgraded lighting, traffic control and storm water management systems, the report stated.
"The whole thing boils down to health and safety," Union Township school board president Michael Sroka told the Star-Ledger, adding that more trucks clogging the intersection nearest the school, located 1,350 feet from the stop, could block the path of emergency vehicles. "Our kids go through there, our teachers go through there. … That intersection's already a nightmare," he said.
Union township resident Michele McBride, formed a group in opposition of the travel stop called Safety Today, Oppose Pilot (STOP) of Hunterdon. McBride told the newspaper that she distributed fliers encouraging people to attend yesterday's hearing.
The hearing was the latest in a year-old application, which has included disputes over zoning and a lawsuit settled out of court. "I don't think it's a done deal, but I think it's going to end up in the courts," resident Alan Ford told the newspaper, "My main concern is basically a facility is being created not for people of this town but for transients."