Warehouse application in Manalapan carried to new year

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MANALAPAN – Residents filled the meeting room at Manalapan town hall on Oct. 24, but they will have to return in January if they want to tell members of the Planning Board what they think about a developer’s proposal to build two warehouses on Route 33 near Pegasus Boulevard.

No public comment was taken on Oct. 24 regarding the proposed Manalapan Logistics Center.

The commercial development is proposed for an 86-acre parcel at 203 Route 33, on the eastbound side of the state highway, approximately across from the Four Seasons at Manalapan adult community. Pegasus Boulevard is an entrance to and an exit from Four Seasons.

The rear of the development tract is separated by a natural buffer from a residential development that includes Gramercy Lane and Astor Drive.

The property is in a Special Economic Development zone and warehouses are a permitted use. The applicant, Countryside Developers Inc., is seeking preliminary and final major site plan approval to remove existing structures on the site and to construct two warehouse distribution buildings.

One warehouse (Building A) would total 313,875 square feet and include 13,000 square feet of office space.

A second warehouse (Building B) would total 302,250 square feet and include 15,000 square feet of office space.

The application proposes an entrance driveway from Route 33, an exit driveway to Route 33, employee parking, 108 loading spaces for tractor-trailers and other site improvements.

Attorney Salvatore Alfieri represented the applicant during the Oct. 24 meeting.

Two other attorneys identified themselves when asked to do so by the board’s attorney, Ron Cucchiaro.

Attorney Ron Gasiorowski said he represents concerned neighbors and residents of Astor Drive. Attorney Michael Lipari said he represents the Village Grande at Battleground Homeowners Association.

The Village Grande adult community is about 1 mile from the development site, near a location where trucks that leave the warehouses might make a U-turn to access Route 33 west.

Cucchiaro said Gasiorowski and Lipari will be able to cross-examine the applicant’s professionals when the public hearing resumes on Jan. 9. The two attorneys will also be permitted to call their own professionals to provide testimony regarding the warehouse application.

On Oct. 24, Alfieri called several individuals to testify and clear up outstanding issues.

Architect Rick Pratt said he redesigned the plans for the warehouses, which he described as being made of cast concrete, with a painted finish.

Pratt said the redesigned paint scheme – off-white for the majority of each building, blue and gray accents, and reddish-brown colors at the entrance – conforms with the township’s ordinance.

He said each warehouse would be 50 feet tall at its tallest point, which complies with the 50-foot zoning regulation for this zone.

Terry Sherman, who is a principal of the applicant, Countryside Developers, told board members he attempted to purchase a neighboring property that is the home of a Turkish-American Community Center.

Sherman attempted to purchase the Turkish-American Community Center property at the request of the board so trucks leaving the warehouses would be able to reach Route 33 west via the traffic light at Pegasus Boulevard.

“We very aggressively pursued the purchase of the property, but it was a unanimous decision that they are not interested in selling,” Sherman said.

Traffic engineer John Rea returned to testify and told board members that since a previous meeting, he provided a supplemental report.

Rea said gaps that are created on Route 33 eastbound when a traffic signal at Woodward Road turns red and stops vehicles would provide sufficient time for trucks leaving the warehouse property to enter the highway and get up to highway speed. He said trucks will need a gap of 10.5 seconds to enter Route 33 eastbound.

“The ingress and egress driveways on Route 33 will operate safely, in my opinion. I believe it will be safe and efficient,” Rea told board members and the public.

There will be an entrance only driveway and an exit only driveway at the Manalapan Logistics Center, according to the testimony.

The next witness called by Alfieri was John Kainer, who is involved in the potential development with Sherman. Kainer said he has worked in warehouses and is an industrial real estate broker.

Kainer described two types of warehouse operations: a distribution center, which receives shipments of goods on pallets, stores the goods in the warehouse, and ships out the goods in bulk on pallets or in cases; and a fulfillment center, which receives shipments of goods on pallets and ships out the goods in parcels (i.e., one parcel/piece at a time).

Kainer said a distribution center has fewer employees than a fulfillment center. He said high volume tenants (i.e., a fulfillment center) do not want to come to the Manalapan location because it is 7 or 8 miles away from the New Jersey Turnpike. He said the operators of fulfillment centers prefer to be closer to the turnpike.

Regarding a proposed area for trailer storage, Kainer said, “We heard feedback from the public and the board. We now expect to maintain 20 to 24 spots for trailers, and to place them farther away from Route 33.”

He said there could be a maximum of four tenants in each warehouse. No tenants have been identified, but he said the developer has spoken with potential tenants.

The board’s planner, Jennifer Beahm, asked Kainer questions about the operation of the site, which she said is a concern to the board members and residents.

“We have concerns about how the site would function,” Beahm said.

“My basic statement is that it is not extreme,” Kainer said.

The Manalapan Logistics Center application was carried to the Jan. 9 meeting of the Planning Board at 7:30 p.m. in the municipal building, Route 522.