ALLENTOWN – Mayor Thomas Fritts has confirmed what residents have been saying for some time: there is surveying activity taking place on a parcel of land in Upper Freehold Township bordering Allentown that could be a prelude to commercial development.
During a meeting of the mayor and Borough Council on Feb. 22, Fritts provided an update on the parcel that is commonly known as the Stein property.
Probasco Drive in Allentown is adjacent to the Stein property in Upper Freehold on North Main Street (Route 539/524). The large tract of undeveloped land is near an exit from Interstate 195 to North Main Street.
The Stein property is in what Allentown officials refer to as a greenbelt around the borough.
During his comments, Fritts said, “There has been activity on the Stein property. I stopped by last week and a surveyor identified the property as a location for two potential warehouses.
“We are looking into various areas to prevent any development that is not good for Allentown. I have made it clear to (Upper Freehold) Mayor (LoriSue) Mount what Allentown does not want to see. The residents of Probasco Drive are not looking for that vista to be destroyed.”
Fritts said no application that proposes development on the Stein property has been filed in Upper Freehold. He also noted that in the past, officials in Upper Freehold have declined requests that applicants have made for variances from the township’s development regulations.
Regarding the possibility of purchasing the Stein property and preserving the tract as open space, Fritts said, “The management company that manages the estate is not interested in preservation; preservation pays pennies on the dollar.”
“We are doing everything in our power to embrace the fight” against warehouses, the mayor said. “Two warehouses on Main Street, where we already have traffic, would truly be a devastation to this historical borough. We are in this (fight) for the long haul.”
Fritts said if an application for the development of the Stein property is presented to a municipal board in Upper Freehold, he is hoping the members of that board would look closely at any request for variances from their community’s development standards.
As the discussion regarding the Stein property ended, Councilwoman Erica DeKranes said, “We are trying to make sure we know what is going on and to keep our borders the way they are.”
The prospect of commercial development near their homes has been a concern for residents of Probasco Drive for several years.
During a meeting of the mayor and Borough Council on Oct. 8, 2019, residents reported seeing surveyors on the Stein property.
The residents said they were concerned about the type of development that could be proposed on the land that is in Upper Freehold’s Highway Commercial zone.
The possibility of a warehouse or warehouses being constructed on the property was mentioned as a significant source of concern by the residents.