Applicant will return to zoning board with redesigned plan for commercial space

MANALAPAN – Representatives of an applicant that seeks to construct four office/warehouse buildings in a local industrial park will return before the Manalapan Zoning Board of Adjustment at some point in the future.

Attorney Peter Licata, representing Ambe Holding, LLC, (Englishtown Industrial Park), appeared before the board on Nov. 7 to present the application. Some testimony was heard from engineer John Ploskonka before the proceedings came to a halt and the meeting was adjourned.

Prior to the meeting, Licata published a legal notice which stated that Ambe Holding was seeking preliminary and final major site plan approval, and a use variance, for property on Center Street/Harrison Avenue in Manalapan and Englishtown.

The applicant is proposing to construct four new flex space buildings consisting of 53,661 square feet of office/warehouse (47,040 square feet in Manalapan and 6,621 square feet in Englishtown). Two existing buildings on the site would be removed to facilitate the proposed construction, according to the legal notice.

Three of the proposed buildings, totaling 35,000 square feet and providing 416 parking stalls, are completely in Manalapan. One 18,661-square-foot building with 32 parking stalls is partially in Manalapan and partially in Englishtown.

A use variance is required because an office/warehouse use is not permitted in the Center Street/Harrison Avenue residential zone, according to the legal notice.

The Englishtown Industrial Park is a 30-acre parcel with 22 acres in Manalapan and 8 acres in Englishtown, according to Ploskonka, who said the three buildings in Manalapan would be the focus that evening.

Ploskonka said a cleanup of contamination on the property, which was the former site of the Washington Forge cutlery factory, has been ongoing for 30 years and is expected to take another two to three years to be completed, specifically where the building that will be partially in Manalapan and partially in Englishtown is proposed to be constructed.

Access to the site is available from Center Street in Englishtown. There would be no vehicular or pedestrian access to the location from Manalapan, according to Ploskonka, who said the plan proposes landscaping, lighting and repairs to the existing industrial park.

“This has been an industrial park for many years. We are trying to provide some additional buildings,” he said.

During Ploskonka’s testimony, Jennifer Beahm, who is the board’s planner, expressed concern with several aspects of the project’s design and with what she called general rather than specific engineering details.

A recess was taken and when the meeting resumed, Licata asked the board to adjourn testimony for the evening.

“We would like to review your professionals’ (engineer and planner) letters and redesign the plan. We would like to sit down with your professionals at a Technical Review Committee meeting,” Licata told the board’s chairman, Stephen Leviton.

Zoning board members agreed with Licata’s request to conclude the evening’s proceedings.

Several members of the public were present to listen to the plan for the proposed buildings, including Englishtown Mayor Thomas Reynolds and Englishtown Councilwoman Cecelia Robilotti.

Licata said individuals who own property that is within 200 feet of the Englishtown Industrial Park will receive a notice regarding a public hearing when the matter is scheduled to return before the zoning board on a date to be determined.