Florence board approves plans for warehouse construction


The Florence Township Planning Board recently approved an application with Industrial Property Trust (IPT) to build a 528,000 square foot warehouse on West Front Street.

The parcel of land the proposed warehouse will be built on is the former site used by the Griffin Industrial Pipe factory, which ceased operations in 2009.

The application, which came before the board on Oct. 23, 2018, was for preliminary and final major site plans for the warehouse as well as an application for a major subdivision in order to carve out five parcels of land to be conveyed to the municipality.

According to the planning board’s Oct. 23 meeting minutes, the proposed plans state that the developer intends to use 72 acres of the property for warehouse space and 15,000 sq. feet for office space with an entrance and exit set up on Front Street to direct trucks off the property toward Route 130.

Given the proposed site’s size, multiple township residents expressed their concerns with truck traffic regarding the size of the property and its operations.

“For this particular project, they anticipate 88 trips to and from in the morning peak time, and in the evening, 102 trips in and out. With regard to the traffic impacts, the site frontage of this property is West Front Street which is under the jurisdiction of Burlington County,” stated in the board meeting minutes.

A representative for IPT at the meeting, Christopher DeGrezia, said that there had been feedback from the community and feedback from the professionals’ reports that has resulted in changes and improvements to their plans. Although this had been an evolving plan, he said the developer had taken the residents’ and the community’s concerns into consideration.

According to DeGrezia, he noted that the warehouse itself is a fully conforming application; however, the conveyance of land to the municipality, the subdivision, creates various technical variances.

Given that the land itself is the former Griffin Industrial Pipe property and this application is for the eastern portion, it is about 95 acres in size and that a subdivision will carve out five lots of property to be dedicated to the municipality for recreation use, open space and other municipal purposes, according to DeGrezia. The remaining parcel is about 72 acres, which will be used for the warehouse.

With approval from the planning board to IPT at a meeting on Nov. 27, the township council unanimously approved an ordinance at a meeting on Dec. 19 in accordance with the developer to set up a 20-year-long payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement.

“The property owner continues to pay for the life of the agreement and even beyond that. They pay the full property taxes for the land,” said township administrator Richard Brook. “The adjustment is on the taxes that are paid with respect to the building. At a minimum, this property will bring in over $9 million in overall revenue in taxes to the property under the [agreement].

“The property owner knows that the township would like to take the railroad tracks that run from West Front Street to Spruce Street out and create a walkway/bikeway path. They have agreed to contribute up to $375,000 and do the work. They will begin to remove the ties and rail lines starting at West Front as far as the funds will go,” Brook added.

Along with the developer’s disposition to utilize parcels of the property for recreational use, Brook noted that the developer is interested in contributing to multiple other projects in the township and anticipates they will become even more involved in the community in the future.

“The township engineer has submitted an application to the state for a Rails to Trails Grant. The goal is to have the project completed by the fall or early winter of 2020,” Brook said. “The township appreciates the developer stepping up and contributing to the community.”