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Sierra Club: West Windsor getting paved over with warehouses

West Windsor has reached a settlement agreement with Atlantic Realty Development Corporation regarding the former Howard Hughes property.

The 653-acre undeveloped property is located at Route 1 and Quakerbridge Road. According to the settlement agreement, 5.5 million square feet of warehouse and distribution facilities will be developed within the interior of the site with retail, office, hotel, and other commercial uses along Route 1 and Quakerbridge Road.

“West Windsor is already being overrun by sprawl, and now they’re adding warehouse sprawl. The last large areas of open space in the area will now be paved over with warehouses. This is a giveaway to developers. It will cause more truck traffic, more water pollution, and more air pollution. This site is already across from the Quaker Bridge Mall, Mercer Mall, and Nassau Park Pavilion. This area doesn’t need any more commercial development,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, in a statement released Dec. 14. “This area already has too much traffic, and this proposal will only make it worse. A 5.5 million square foot warehouse is more than 5 times the size of the Quaker Bridge Mall. This is the wrong project in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

There will be no residential units built on the site. The former developer, Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC), initially proposed nearly 2,000 residential units within a mixed-use plan development on the site. HHC’s conceptual proposal in 2017 included housing units, retail and office space, walking trails, parks, and potential sites for a hotel and school.

“Industrial development like this will bring in large trucks that generate air pollution, noise pollution, and traffic safety. This project will bring in thousands of trucks a day along Route 1 and Quakerbridge Road, creating a commuter’s nightmare as people try to get to the NJ Turnpike and into Trenton. It will also put pressure to bring back the Route 92 project that we stopped over 15 years ago. A 5.5 million square foot facility will also increase impervious cover, causing more runoff and flooding. This is an area that already floods, and building a massive warehouse complex will only make flooding worse worse,” Tittel said in the statement. “This project will also increase West Windsor’s housing obligation, which means even more sprawl.”

Tittel said New Jersey is turning from the Garden State “to the Warehouse State.”

“This massive sprawl warehouse proposal is just one of many in New Jersey. There are warehouse proposals in Somerset County and Burlington County, a housing project in Hampton, a power plant in Warren Glenn, and the PennEast pipeline. Most of these projects are on conservation or environmentally sensitive lands in the Highlands. All of this warehouse space will increase the towns’ affordable housing obligation which means even more development,” Tittel said in the statement. “These warehouses mean more truck traffic. This will cost the towns tens of millions of dollars, which means higher taxes. They will need to rebuild bridges, fix intersections, put in traffic lights, and update other infrastructure to allow for the heavy truck traffic in these areas.”

A recent study looked at how 15 proposed warehouse projects in New Jersey could impact traffic congestion. The study, which was conducted by the Warren County Planning Department and funded by the NJ Highlands Council, found that the potential long-term impacts of these developments would be substantial, according to the statement. Increased traffic to and from the sites would degrade road conditions, and many road intersections wouldn’t be able to accommodate increased truck traffic.

“We are fighting the same battles in Somerset County, Monmouth County, Gloucester County, Hunterdon County, Cape May County, and many other areas. These projects impact critical, sensitive farmland in the middle of the Highlands. These are prime agricultural soils that should be protected. These types of large facilities will mean more traffic, more flooding, and more pollution. These projects also increase the towns’ affordable housing obligation, which means even more development and sprawl,” Tittel said in the statement. “It is critical that the state steps up to protect and preserve the scenic and farmland areas left in New Jersey. Otherwise, we will be paving over one of the last unspoiled areas of the state with warehouses.”

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