Public hearing for warehouse set to come before Florence planners on Nov. 26

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A public hearing for the proposed construction of a 508,200 square foot warehouse is set to come before the Florence Township Planning Board.

At an Oct. 22 township board meeting, Florence planners made a motion to approve and pass an application submitted by IPT Florence West Urban Renewal, LLC, for completeness on their plans to construct a warehouse approximately 508,000 sq. ft. on the west side of Front Street.

Prior to the start of a formal public review, the planning board reviews an application for completeness. The process can include a land use review of the proposed site to ensure the application is complete and technically accurate, and an environmental review to disclose and analyze potential impacts the development may cause.

Once those items have been reviewed by the board, the application is approved or denied to come before the board for a public hearing.

If the preliminary and final site plans along with a minor subdivision and bulk variances are approved by the board at the Nov. 26 public hearing, more than 1 million square feet of warehouse space could be developed on Front Street after planners approved an application last year with IPT to build a 528,000 square foot warehouse. The applicant also agreed to donate approximately 23 acres of township property for open space and municipal purposes as part of that application.

The applicant’s proposed plans call for the warehouse to be built on a 52-acre land parcel that once housed the Griffin Industrial Pipe Factory site. The factory’s operations ceased approximately a decade ago. The proposed project is also situated within a redevelopment area where warehousing is permitted, according to a Dec. 19, 2018 resolution passed by the township council.

Development on this parcel has also come before Florence officials earlier this year. In May, the township was the recipient of grant money to fund a project planned to transform abandoned property of the Griffin Pipe factory’s railroad tracks into a pathway for residents.

Officials said the municipality received $562,000 in federal funding from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Transportation for the conversion of the former Griffin Pipe Railroad into a community greenway and pathway.

The grant, combined with contributions of $375,000 from IPT, are aimed to fund the project to transform the section of the rail line that runs down East 5th Street from Spruce Street to West Front Street to take a dilapidated old railroad system and turn it into a newly landscaped pathway.

The applicant is represented by Christopher DeGrezia of Drinker, Biddle & Reath, LLP, who provided a statement to the township planners on the update of the application following township engineer Hugh Dougherty’s recommendation to declare IPT’s application complete.

“We received the report from [Dougherty] who’s recommending it to be deemed complete, so we fully support it and we are excited to be here, and we look forward to present the application at the next meeting,” DeGrezia said.

The Florence Township Planning Board is scheduled to conduct a public hearing on the project at the Nov. 26 board meeting. The meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers Room of the township municipal building at 711 Broad St., Florence.