HOWELL – Representatives of a commercial development project known as the Monmouth Commerce Center have submitted a new application to the Howell Planning Board.
The application remains under review by the board’s professionals and as of Jan. 19, a date for a public hearing had not been scheduled, according to a Planning Board official.
The applicant is seeking preliminary and final site plan approval for five warehouses which total 1.19 million square feet.
Several years ago, the applicant, Monmouth Commerce Center, and Lawrence Katz and Felix Pflaster, as owners, filed an application with the Planning Board which proposed the construction of nine warehouses totaling 1.2 million square feet on a 99-acre parcel on Randolph Road. Warehouses are a permitted use at the location.
On Jan. 31, 2020, following public hearings during which representatives of the applicant described the project and residents objected to the proposed use in their neighborhood, Planning Board members voted to deny the Monmouth Commerce Center application.
On May 21, 2020, Monmouth Commerce Center’s representatives filed a legal complaint in state Superior Court naming Howell, the Planning Board and the Township Council as defendants in the action.
The legal complaint alleged wrongful denial of site plan approval, erroneous ordinance interpretation, improper denial of a variance, failure to act on requested relief, improper interpretation and application of a tree replacement ordinance, improper application fees and fee ordinance, and failure to grant extended vested rights.
On July 23, 2021, Superior Court Judge Owen C. McCarthy rejected the applicant’s complaint and upheld the Planning Board’s denial of the application.
On Dec. 22, 2021, representatives of the Monmouth Commerce Center submitted a new application which proposes the construction of five warehouses (reduced from the previous nine buildings) totaling 1.19 million square feet, plus parking spaces, loading spaces and other site improvements. The project is proposed to be built in four phases, according to the application’s submission letter.
The submission letter states that “the proposed project is substantially different than the previous warehouse project proposed by the applicant for the site because the number, size, design and layout of the buildings have been revised; the number and design of the driveways have been revised; and the project does not require any variances or design waivers as all of the previously required variances and design waivers have been removed due to the design change.”
Resident Dawn Van Brunt previously offered a video of existing traffic conditions at the Randolph Road property and on Route 547, which is near the site where the warehouses are being proposed.
Regarding the new application, she told the Tri-Town News, “While I respect the fact the developers put forth an effort to change the plans for Monmouth Commerce Center, they still did not produce a safe result for our area. I feel the changes made were minimal and feeble.
“I am also disappointed in the town. (Municipal officials) had ample time to make changes to prohibit projects of this magnitude, but yet here we are; second Verse, same as the first. When will they care? When it is too late,” Van Brunt said.