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Objectors to Manalapan warehouses will have chance to state case

MANALAPAN – Two attorneys who represent parties objecting to the proposed construction of a pair of warehouses on Route 33 are expected to present their case to the Manalapan Planning Board on Sept. 10.

Countryside Developers Inc. is proposing to build two warehouses on an 86-acre property on Route 33 just east of Pegasus Boulevard in Manalapan. The project is known as the Manalapan Logistics Center.

Warehouses are a permitted use in Manalapan’s Special Economic Development zone. One proposed warehouse contains 294,560 square feet of space and the second proposed warehouse contains 302,250 square feet of space.

Testimony regarding the application was most recently heard during the board’s Aug. 13 meeting. Attorney Salvatore Alfieri, who represents the applicant, called on a principal of the applicant and several professionals to conclude their testimony regarding the site.

Terry Sherman, a principal of Countryside Developers, provided historic background regarding the site, which he called the Kaiser farm and which he said has been a family-owned operation since the 1950s.

“The family has seen development occur all around them and this property is the hole in the doughnut on Route 33,” Sherman said, adding that the property has been zoned for commercial use for 30 years.

Sherman discussed the permits the applicant has secured from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), as well as drainage and grading issues on the tract.

Sherman said the application conforms to Manalapan’s development standards and he asked the board members to apply the same standards they have applied during their consideration of other applications along the Route 33 corridor.

Julia Algeo, a professional engineer who represents the applicant, offered testimony next and said that since the previous hearing regarding the application took place, the applicant had reduced the size of building A (the building closest to Route 33) from about 305,000 square feet to 294,560 square feet.

She said the applicant has maintained a 100-foot-wide stream corridor buffer throughout the site and she said the DEP has issued the applicant wetlands permits.

Algeo said agricultural areas that are disturbed during the construction of the warehouses will be revegetated with species native to the site. She said 7 acres would be revegetated.

The applicant’s engineer said 31 acres (approximately 37% of the site) would be placed in a conservation easement, including the southern boundary of the property near homes on Gramercy Lane and Astor Drive.

“This design is fully compliant with township ordinances,” Algeo said.

Traffic engineer John Rea said the application is undergoing a final review by the New Jersey Department of Transportation, which he said has offered no comments on traffic issues.

Access to and from the potential warehouse site is provided from Route 33, which is a state highway under the jurisdiction of the DOT.

Following the remarks of the professionals, Alfieri said he had concluded his presentation of the applicant’s case.

Mayor Jack McNaboe, who sits on the board, said he still objects to the applicant’s plan to send truck drivers who are exiting the warehouse site and want to head west on Route 33 (toward the New Jersey Turnpike) about 1 mile east on the highway to an overpass that is just east of Sweetmans Lane.

Using that overpass, which would require the trucks to pass an entrance-exit to the Village Grande at Battleground adult community on Business Route 33, would allow the trucks to reach Route 33 west in front of the Peking Pavilion restaurant and the Manalapan Community Center.

“This plan (for the trucks) didn’t work on Day 1 (of the public hearing) and it doesn’t work tonight,” McNaboe said.

Rea said the DOT directed the applicant to send the trucks to the highway overpass that is east of Sweetmans Lane. He said the jughandle at Sweetmans Lane that provides access to Route 33 west from Route 33 east cannot accommodate large trucks.

There is another possibility that could be considered to provide trucks that leave the warehouse site heading east on Route 33 with access to Route 33 west.

In conjunction with the Manalapan Crossing residential and commercial project that has been approved at the corner of Route 33 west and Millhurst Road, the DOT has approved a new signalized intersection on the highway approximately halfway between Sweetmans Lane/Millhurst Road and Pegasus Boulevard.

McNaboe suggested that a truck driver who leaves the warehouses could use the new signalized intersection (which is not planned to include a jughandle) to make a U-turn from Route 33 east to Route 33 west.

If the driver made a U-turn at the new intersection it would eliminate the need for him to continue on Route 33 to use the overpass near the Village Grande at Battleground.

Rea said that option could be possible, although no timeframe has been given as to when the new intersection that will provide access to Manalapan Crossing may be built and/or if that would occur before or after the warehouses are constructed.

The two warehouses are proposed for a site approximately across from the Four Seasons at Manalapan adult community on Route 33. Pegasus Boulevard is an entrance to and an exit from Four Seasons.

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

Two attorneys represent other parties. Ron Gasiorowski represents residents of Astor Drive. Michael Lipari represents the Village Grande at Battleground Homeowners Association.

Countryside Developers is seeking preliminary and final major site plan approval from the Planning Board for the Manalapan Logistics Center.

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