Upper Freehold zoners grant second adjournment to warehouse application

UPPER FREEHOLD – More than 250 residents of the Allentown and Upper Freehold Township area who signed in to a municipal meeting to hear details of a proposed warehouse were left disappointed on the evening of Feb. 15.

Representatives of NP Freehold Industrial, LLC, which has filed an application to construct a warehouse on the Westhaven farm property, Route 524, Upper Freehold Township, were on the agenda to present testimony before the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The meeting was conducted in a remote manner during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, although some members of the zoning board were present at the municipal building.

Following the Pledge of Allegiance and the reading of the meeting’s compliance statement, zoning board secretary Angela LoConte announced that the NP Freehold Industrial, LLC, application had asked for an adjournment.

LoConte explained to those in the municipal building and those watching from home that the applicant’s representatives contacted her at 4:30 p.m. and requested an adjournment because one witness would not be available for the 7 p.m. meeting.

The board members granted the applicant’s request for an adjournment and set March 15 as the date when the application will be heard. The Feb. 15 adjournment marked the second adjournment for the application.

The March 15 meeting will also be conducted in a remote manner. Members of the public may view the meeting, listen to testimony presented by the applicant’s professionals and comment or ask questions when given the opportunity to do so by the board.

According to the application, NP Freehold Industrial is seeking municipal approval to construct a 566,840-square-foot warehouse at the site of Westhaven Farm.

NP Freehold Industrial is required to appear before the zoning board to seek a use variance for its proposed structure because warehouses are not a permitted use in the research, office and manufacturing (ROM) zone in which the building is being proposed. The warehouse is proposed on a 117-acre lot.

The applicant will also seek variances to allow the proposed building to be 50 feet tall (the maximum permitted height is 35 feet) and to provide 337 parking spaces (667 parking spaces are required).

After the application was adjourned for the evening, the board members opened the hearing to general public comments and did not accept comments relating specifically to the NP Freehold Industrial application.

Resident Micah Ramussen noted that more than 200 people had signed on to watch the meeting and listen to the testimony.

“We will do what we have to do,” Rasmussen said.

Resident Frank Paprota, who identified himself as a semi-retired attorney, said, “The board should be aware, it’s a well known tactic that when (an applicant) knows there is a lot of objection, you ask for an adjournment in the hope of wearing down (the opposition). I would be hesitant to grant any more adjournments. This is their second one.”

Board officials said they would take Paprota’s suggestion regarding the granting of additional adjournments under advisement.

James Waskovich, the zoning board’s chairman, said, “We (board members) are as disappointed as all of you (members of the public) that we are not able to deal with this tonight. I got here at 7 p.m. and found out we would not be hearing this application.”

— Examiner Managing Editor Mark Rosman contributed to this article.