Testimony focuses on use of Manalapan site for warehouses vs. distribution center

MANALAPAN – A planner testifying on behalf of an objector has told the Manalapan Planning Board that the number of vehicles entering and leaving a commercial site on Route 33 may depend on how the use of the property is defined.

Countryside Developers Inc. is proposing to build what it describes as two warehouses on an 86-acre property on Route 33 just east of Pegasus Boulevard. The buildings would be 294,560 square feet and 302,250 square feet in size.

Warehouses are a permitted use in Manalapan’s Special Economic Development zone, according to previous testimony.

The two buildings are proposed for a site 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.

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

Attorney Ron Gasiorowski represents residents of Astor Drive who are objecting to the application. Astor Drive is behind the proposed development site.

Gasiorowski previously raised the question as to whether the proposed buildings are warehouses or if they could be considered distribution centers.

When the public hearing resumed on Oct. 8, Gasiorowski called professional planner Peter Streck to testify.

Streck said Countryside Developers “wants the freedom to choose an all-warehouse use, an all-distribution center use or a combination of those uses. There will be a dramatic difference in trip production depending on what is going on inside these buildings.

“The applicant wants the freedom to navigate between a classic warehouse, which is defined primarily as the storage of goods or materials, and a fulfillment center, which is more of a distribution center than a warehouse.

“The likelihood is that this (project) is not going to be a classic warehouse. It behooves the board to know the worst case scenario,” Streck said.

The professionals who represent Countryside Developers have testified that no tenants for the two buildings have been signed.

Attorney Salvatore Alfieri, who represents the applicant, said his client has never used the phrase “fulfillment center” when describing the plan for the Route 33 property.

“A fulfillment center will never be located on this site,” Alfieri said.

When the meeting was opened to public comments, several residents spoke about the application.

Resident Joel Litow, who lives in the Four Seasons, said his primary concern with the application “is trucks coming from the east that will use the Pegasus Boulevard jughandle” to cross Route 33 to reach the warehouses. “Trucks stacking in the jughandle will be a big problem,” he said.

Resident Lori Polhamus of Astor Drive said, “I am strongly opposed to this project because it backs up to our houses. My biggest concern is the number of people coming in and out of the warehouses and walking up to our houses. This is a quiet neighborhood. Please consider having only one warehouse and putting it closer to Route 33. Warehouses are the worst decision for this property.”

Resident Tom Devine of Astor Drive asked the board members to reject the application. He said he is concerned about the level of sound the proposed use of the property will generate near his and his neighbors’ homes.

“If you can’t reject it, scale it down. One building closer to Route 33 would make sense,” Devine said.

No decision on the Manalapan Logistics Center application was reached on Sept. 8. The public hearing on the application is scheduled to continue during the Planning Board’s Oct. 22 meeting.

Instructions that describe how to attend the virtual meeting are posted on Manalapan’s municipal website.