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Planning Board approves site plan changes for Amazon delivery station

The Lawrence Township Planning Board gave its stamp of approval for changes to the site plan for a 340,400-square-foot warehouse at 10 Princess Road, clearing the way for it to become an Amazon delivery station.

The changes approved by the Planning Board at its Nov. 16 meeting include re-striping the parking lot to eliminate all but 12 of the 103 loading bays, and eliminating all but 18 of the 64 tractor-trailer parking spaces.

There will be no expansion to the warehouse, which was approved by the Planning Board in 2018. Work on the warehouse is mostly complete.

Amazon’s “last mile” delivery station is not the same as Amazon’s fulfillment center, Amazon representative Christine Schumer told the Planning Board. It is called a “last mile” delivery station because it is the last stop before a package is delivered to a customer’s door, she said.

A fulfillment center, by contrast, is a warehouse stocked with items from sellers and suppliers. The items are stored until they are ready for distribution to in-house Amazon delivery or for delivery to shippers such as UPS and FedEx, Schumer said.

A “last mile” delivery station receives the items from the fulfillment center that have been ordered by customers. Amazon Flex drivers, independent contractors and Amazon’s delivery service partners pick up the orders, place them in their vehicle and drop them off at a customer’s home.

“It’s the last stop before a package gets to your door,” Schumer said.

The delivery station is expected to employ 50 to 80 full-time employees who will work inside the delivery station to unload and sort the packages. As Amazon employees, they will receive full benefits, Schumer said. The delivery drivers, who are third-party contractors, will earn $15 per hour.

Traffic engineer Daniel Disario, who represents Amazon, outlined how the delivery station will work – from the number of tractor-trailers that will drop off items for distribution, to the number of drivers who will pick up the packages for delivery.

About 24 tractor-trailer trucks will arrive at the delivery station, spread out over a 24-hour period, Disario said. Most of the tractor-trailer trucks will arrive overnight between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m., and a few will arrive daytime between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

At a typical warehouse, there would be about 100 tractor-trailer trucks per day using the facility, he said. Most of the trucks would be arriving and leaving during the daytime, and would generate more traffic during the daytime.

“For those reasons, a delivery station is a more preferred operation than a typical warehouse tenant,” Disario said.

Meanwhile, the tractor-trailer trucks will turn onto Princess Road from Princeton Pike to reach the delivery station. They will leave the delivery station and go back to Princeton Pike. They will not travel through The Gatherings townhouse development at the other end of Princess Road, near Franklin Corner Road.

Employees inside the delivery station will unload the tractor-trailers and sort the packages into individual delivery routes, Disario said. They drivers will pick up their packages, load their vehicles and leave the delivery station to drop off the packages to customers’ homes.

The delivery van drivers are arranged to leave in waves. Between 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., 114 delivery van drivers will arrive at the site, park their cars, load their vans and leave. They will begin to return to the delivery station at 7 p.m., which is the end of their workday, to drop off the vans and pick up their own cars.

Between 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., the next wave of delivery drivers will arrive. The 31 delivery drivers will drive their own cars to the loading and staging areas, load up their cars with packages and leave to make their deliveries. They will not return to the delivery station because they are using their own cars.

Additional employees will be hired on a seasonal basis to unload and sort the packages, setting them up for delivery.

“It’s a very orderly operation,” Disario said.

When the meeting was opened for public comment, one resident of The Gatherings said some of the delivery drivers would find it is easier to get to the warehouse by turning onto Princess Road from Franklin Corner Road, near the housing development.

When the resident asked whether Amazon would object to creating a cul-de-sac on Princess Road near Franklin Corner Road to prevent cars and trucks from using it as a “through” street, there was no objection from Amazon representatives.

Municipal Manager Kevin Nerwinski, who sits on the Planning Board, said it is not in the Planning Board’s jurisdiction to create a cul-de-sac on Princess Road. The decision rests with the Lawrence Township Council, which has already given serious consideration to that suggestion, he said.

Township officials are “absolutely inclined” to creating a cul-de-sac to close off Princess Road to “through traffic,” Nerwinski said.

 

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