Variances are needed if a tire storage area at the Route 37 AAA service center will move forward.
The storage area proposed at the 1199 Route 37 East AAA first came before the Toms River Planning Board's scrutiny last month. At the time, members requested that health and aesthetic concerns be addressed by the applicant before they made a decision on the plan.
Board members at their Wednesday night meeting expressed concerns that the steel container proposed to house tires is considered a temporary structure — allowing it to be used as a permanent storage area could set a precedent for future applications.
"In the past, the only applications for these types of things have been temporary," said board member Jack Reuther, adding that stores like Walmart and ShopRite have done that before.
The plan calls for a 20-by-8 foot section to temporarily house new tires, and a 16-by-10 foot area where used tires would be stored until removed.
The unit proposed for new tires is "a typical steel container like you'd see on a truck," the kind used for shipping purposes. It has been refurbished and adapted for storage, applicant engineer John Ernst has said.
Reuther said that the board should stipulate that the steel container can be used in this case only as tire storage if a variance for its use is approved, as not to set a precedent for other businesses that may want to cite the case when crafting an application.
Applicant attorney Michael York said that his client could construct a 6-foot high board-on-board fence around the tire storage area, blocking it from view. The board appeared agreeable to that plan.
But such a fence requires a variance, as commercial properties are zoned for chain-link fences, said Assistant Township Planner Erika Stahl.
York requested that the application be carried to the board's March 20 meeting so that proper public notice for the variance request can be given.
The board had also requested last meeting that the applicant take a survey of other tire businesses in the area and return with more detail, including how often used tires would be removed.
Tires would be removed two to three times per month, according to the applicant. As for other automotive tire storage along Route 37, storage has been taking place outside and in a disorderly manner.
"I think this applicant is making a very proactive approach to this site, putting the tires in an area that is closed and out of site," Ernst said.
Reuther said that he appreciated the work AAA has done at the site since taking it, the former home of a Saturn dealership, over in 2011. The fence, he said, would serve as a remedy for allowing the permanent steel container.