HOWELL – Members of the Howell Zoning Board of Adjustment have granted a use variance and preliminary major site plan approval to an applicant who proposed the construction of a 368,000-square-foot warehouse on Fairfield Road.
Fairfield Road runs between Route 524 (Adelphia Road) and Route 33 in Howell.
Chairman Wendell Nanson, Richard Mertens, James Moretti, Matthew Hughes, Jose Orozco and Glenn Cantor voted “yes” on a motion to grant the use variance and preliminary major site plan approval during a meeting on Nov. 9.
The applicant and owner on the application was Rock Solid Realty, LLC. The warehouse will include 9,600 square feet of office space. The applicant is leasing 36 acres on the 102-acre parcel.
According to testimony presented to the board, site improvements will include a parking lot, storm water infrastructure, new utility connections, lighting and landscaping. The warehouse will have 72 loading bays.
Attorney Kenneth Pape represented the applicant during the meeting.
Pape said that in 2011, the owner/applicant came before the zoning board and requested a use variance to construct a solar energy project at the location. The attorney said a 17-megawatt solar energy facility was approved.
“The approval process was complicated and went through state agencies, which reduced the solar farm from 17 megawatts to 10 megawatts. That was a fairly typical experience in 2011 and 2012. I am told it was a response from the state to the very large solar farms that were coming online,” Pape said.
He said 65 acres of the Fairfield Road parcel have been developed as a solar energy project.
“The (solar energy facility) has been generating electricity … that has been fed into the grid for about seven years. That is doing very well … but approximately 35 acres … was not developed” and is suitable for development, Pape said.
The attorney said the proposed warehouse could accommodate up to four tenants.
Engineer Louis Zuegner said the property where the warehouse is proposed to be constructed is about 700 feet south of a Route 33 exit ramp.
Toward Bennett Road there are several homes and light industrial properties. There are residences north of the property, commercial uses on Route 33 and farmland and undeveloped tracts in the vicinity, he said.
The property to be developed is in Howell’s Highway Development (HD2) zone, almost completely surrounded by a Special Economic Development (SED) zone.
Pape said Howell’s master plan was amended to show that the property in question should be rezoned SED and “that would make it consistent with the surrounding properties.”
There were no questions or comments regarding the application from members of the public. A motion was made and approved to grant the applicant, Rock Solid Realty, a use variance and preliminary major site plan approval.