Howell representatives express concern about warehouses to county board

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FREEHOLD – Howell Mayor Theresa Berger voiced concern about the proposed Monmouth Commerce Center to Monmouth County officials during a meeting in Freehold Borough on Oct. 28.

Representatives of the Monmouth Commerce Center are seeking approval from the Howell Planning Board to construct nine warehouses on a 99-acre parcel at Randolph and Oak Glen roads in Howell. A public hearing on the application will resume at the board’s meeting on Nov. 7 in the municipal building, Route 9.

The Monmouth Commerce Center was the subject of discussion at a meeting of the Monmouth County Planning Board’s Development Review Committee on Oct. 28.

Justin Taylor of Dynamic Traffic, who is the applicant’s traffic engineer, reviewed aspects of the project with the board. Taylor said if the Howell Planning Board approves the project, the development’s time frame would be several years.

The property where the nine warehouses are proposed is near the intersection of Randolph Road and Lakewood-Farmingdale Road (Monmouth County Route 547). The intersection is not controlled by a traffic signal.

Taylor said that pending county approval, the applicant would begin to design a signalized intersection.

The members of the Development Review Committee requested information from the applicant and from the Ocean County Planning Department. The proposed development site in Howell is near the Ocean County border. No action was taken by the Development Review Committee that afternoon.

Attending the meeting in Freehold Borough were Berger, Howell Councilman John Bonevich, Howell residents and members of the Howell Environmental Commission and Shade Tree Commission.

During public comment, resident Ron Springer said he has lived on Route 547 for 20 years. He said when he leaves for work in the morning, it is dangerous for him to back out of his driveway.

“When I drink coffee in the morning and a tractor-trailer goes by my house, the coffee in my cup shakes. I have a structural crack in the front of my foundation … A lot of houses along (Route 547) were built (70 years ago) and they are 20 to 50 feet from the road. When one of these trucks goes by it affects the structural foundation of our homes,” Springer said.

Kristal Dias, who chairs the Howell Shade Tree Commission, expressed concern about the number of trees that would be removed if the applicant receives approval to construct the warehouses, which are a permitted use in the zone on Randolph Road in which they have been proposed.

“With the number of trees that are going to be removed for this project, (that will) destroy our land. We are going to have flooding worse than we already have it. Right now our residents are being hammered pretty much every time we have a big storm, they are getting a lot of flooding. A lot of that is due to trees being removed,” Dias said.

“The size of the (Monmouth Commerce Center) property can be compared to Freehold Raceway Mall, which is on Route 9 in a (commercial) area. This property (in Howell) is nestled among houses right next to the Metedeconk River and we are talking about putting in a facility as big as the Freehold Raceway Mall,” Berger told the members of the Development Review Committee.

During her remarks, Berger referenced a proposal from Resource Engineering to establish a solid waste transfer station at 34 Randolph Road, near Route 547. The transfer station has not received approval at this time. Concerns have been expressed by residents of the area about the number of trucks that would enter and leave the transfer station on a daily basis.

“I travel this road on a daily basis. There is traffic to get on Old Tavern Road, to get off Interstate 195. It takes me five to six lights (at Interstate 195 and Route 547),” Berger said.

Joan Osborne, who chairs the Howell Environmental Commission, said existing noise pollution and air pollution would be made worse with the development of the Monmouth Commerce Center.