Cranbury residents hit back at possibility of additional warehouses

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Two more warehouses possibly being built in Cranbury has concerned residents who live near the proposed development site and their neighbors from Monroe Township, at a time when the residents say they have enough headaches living near a lot of warehouses.

Residents packed the Cranbury Township Committee meeting on Aug. 13 to voice quality of life concerns they deal with and to speak up about a concept Garden State Buildings, a subsidiary of Edison-based Summit Associates, has in mind for 18 acres between Halsey Reed and Hightstown-Cranbury Station roads.

A company representative could not be reached for comment.

Deanne Napurano, of Cranbury, joined by her neighbors from both communities, told officials of the noise pollution, traffic safety, the shaking of their homes and other concerns that come with living in an area with constant truck traffic.

Napurano lives in the historic Cranbury Station section of town, a designated historic area, in a house that dates to before 1860.

“Residents east of Route 130 are suffering, we are suffering right now,” she said during the public comment portion of the meeting. “We need your help.”

Napurano was looking for officials’ aid in getting the residents’ concerns presented to the Planning Board, which would decide on any application Garden State Buildings proposes.

She said neighbors noticed drilling going on at the property and checked with Cranbury officials, who said there are no plans filed with the town. Further research found that concept drawings had been submitted to Monroe Township, she said.

It was not immediately clear why a developer would have submitted concept drawings to a neighboring municipality.

Napurano provided officials with drawings done for the developer for two buildings that would have a combined 329,000 square feet. Most of that space would be for the warehouses.

Napurano said she and her neighbors would prefer to see the land not developed, in a move that also would protect wildlife in the area.

“Regardless of this particular plan, it’s any plan that must be suspect at this point,” she said. “We have reached our full capacity over there, guys.”

Lorraine Moody Morris, of Halsey Reed Road, told officials what residents in that section of town are experiencing.

“With each erected warehouse, the noise, the air pollution, the traffic congestion has increased,” Morris said.

“We have a wonderfully diverse … group of concerned citizens out there, on both sides of the yellow line,” said Kathie Morolda, of the Monroe Township side of Halsey Reed Road.

Township Committeeman Michael J. Ferrante sought to set expectations of what the town could do, or could not do.

“We can request things like shade barriers, we can look at environmental things,” he said. “But we fundamentally cannot ask the property owner to do something that is different than what it’s zoned for.”

“At the end of the day, what it will come down to is if there are legitimate environmental concerns that could potentially stop the project,” said Township Committeeman Daniel P. Mulligan III, who also sits on the Planning Board. “But other than that … they have the right to build.”

Municipal officials will approach the property owner to see if there is a purchase opportunity for farmland preservation, Mulligan said.

He said officials should look at municipal ordinances “to see if there’s anything we can do (to) make an impact with the trucks parking out there, things along those lines (and) obviously as well as with enforcement, a consistent enforcement from the police.”

The large crowd this week gave officials a chance to test out new guidelines to make the committee meetings run smoother.

Officials asked members of the public to sign up if they intended to speak, used a timer to make sure residents did not exceed their allotted three minutes and kept the meeting room at the 49 person maximum capacity, as no one was allowed to stand in the meeting room.

There was spillover in the hallway, however, as the audio of the meeting was broadcast to those who could not get a seat.