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Monmouth Commerce Center plan to be heard in Howell on May 12

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HOWELL — A commercial development application that proposed the construction of warehouses on Randolph Road and was initially denied by the Howell Planning Board will be back before the board on May 12.

According to information posted on a Planning Board agenda, Monmouth Commerce Center, LLC, as the applicant, and Lawrence Katz and Felix Pflaster, as the owners, are seeking preliminary and final major site plan approval to construct five one-story warehouse buildings with office space. The project totals 1.19 million square feet. Each building will contain its own parking and loading stalls to service the building.

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Access to the site is provided by four new full movement driveways; two driveways along Randolph Road that will serve as access for passenger vehicles and tractor-trailers, a third driveway on Randolph Road and one driveway on Brook Road for passenger vehicles only.

Additional proposed site improvements consist of lighting, landscaping, above-ground infiltration basins to address storm water management and refuse enclosures.

The applicant is also proposing off-site improvements to extend public water and sanitary sewer mains to the commercial development.

The off-site improvements would also consist of improvements at the intersection of Randolph Road and Lakewood-Farmingdale Road (Route 547), including the installation of a traffic signal, full width mill and overlay, storm water inlets along one side of Randolph Road and Oak Glen Road, road striping within Randolph Road and Oak Glen Road and an 8.5-foot-wide, 21,639-square-foot right-of-way dedication to Howell along the entire Randolph Road frontage, as well as a 3,055-square-foot right-of way dedication to Howell at the intersection of Oak Glen and Brook roads, according to the information provided by the township.

The Monmouth Commerce Center has a history in Howell that dates back several years. The previous application proposed the construction of nine warehouses totaling 1.2 million square feet on the 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.”

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