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Plan for flex space buildings in Jackson gains preliminary approval

JACKSON — The members of the Jackson Planning Board have voted to grant preliminary major site plan approval to an applicant who is proposing to construct three flex space buildings on a 12-acre parcel at Route 537 and Allyson Road.

Board members held off on granting final major site plan approval and subdivision approval regarding the application of Yosef Rothenberg/463 Monmouth Road, LLC.

The application seeks to divide the 12-acre property into three lots while developing three multi-tenant warehouses with office space. The proposed use of warehouses with office space is permitted in Jackson’s Highway Commercial zone on Route 537 at Allyson Road.

An initial hearing on the application was held in March. No decision was reached by the board members at that time.

The applicant’s representatives returned before the board on July 18 with several revisions to the application. The applicant was represented by attorney Ian Goldman, of the firm Levin Shea Pfeffer and Goldman, engineer William Stevens, architect Richard Tokarski and traffic engineer John Rea.

Board Chairman Robert Hudak, Vice Chairman Len Haring Jr. and board members Township Councilman Martin Flemming, Noah Canderozzi, Mordechai Burnstein, Tzvi Herman, Michele Campbell, Jeffrey Riker and Business Administrator Terence Wall listened to testimony and public comment during the meeting at the municipal building.

The hearing on the application ran three hours, with two hours of public comment from numerous residents of Berwyn Lane, Broderick Drive, Woodbury Drive and Richter Road, which are near the proposed location of the buildings.

Tokarski said Building No. 1 totals 29,000 square feet, building No. 2 totals 32,000 square feet and building No. 3 totals 32,000 square feet.

The architect provided details about the proposed buildings, which board members had asked for during the initial hearing in March.

Among his comments, Tokarski said the rear of the buildings would face each other, meaning residents will not see loading areas. He said the design elements of the buildings will be on the front and sides of the buildings to offer an appealing look to the structures, which he referred to as “flex warehouse-type space.”

During his testimony, Stevens offered details about the site and said the buildings will have solar power to the extent possible; a four seasons buffer will be created between the development site and the neighboring homes; electric vehicle charging stations have been added to the plan; and if generators are provided, their use will be limited to buildings No. 1 and 2.

Stevens said the three buildings would share common infrastructure at the site and he said all the infrastructure would be completed in the first phase of development. He said the construction of the three buildings could occur in several phases.

The issue of access to the site was discussed by Stevens, who said, “Our original plan sought access from Route 537, however, the Monmouth County Planning Board will not permit access from Route 537.”

Sean Gertner, the board’s attorney, explained that under an agreement dating back to 1933, Monmouth County has jurisdiction on Route 537, even though the Jackson development site is in Ocean County.

Route 537 is the border of the two counties. Properties across Route 537 from Allyson Road are in Millstone Township, Monmouth County.

Stevens said Monmouth County officials want the access to the three buildings to be from Allyson Road, which the engineer said would be improved, or as he put it, “beefed up,” as part of the project to accommodate trucks.

Rea joined the discussion and said, “In my opinion, there is not enough frontage on Route 537 to engineer a solution to appeal the denial of use of Route 537 for access.”

But many of the residents who spoke later in the meeting implored the board and the applicant to appeal Monmouth County’s decision not to permit access to the site on Route 537.

Hudak said that at a minimum, a right in, right out driveway on the county highway might be suggested to Monmouth County officials.

Doug Klee, the board’s engineer, said it is not unusual for the county to require the use of a local road to access a development site, but he added that an entrance on Route 537 would mitigate potential traffic on Allyson Road.

When Hudak opened the meeting to public comment, residents came forward to ask questions about the project and to state their objections to the proposal.

Pamela Hallbauer said the streets around the 12-acre development site are narrow and she expressed concern regarding potential firefighting activities at the three buildings. She said the closest hydrant is at a shopping center at the intersection of Route 537 and Route 571.

Edward Thompson said his property backs up to Allyson Road and he asked about the buildings’ hours of operation and the types of trucks that would come to the location.

Stevens said the hours would likely be Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. He said there are no tenants for the proposed buildings at this time, but he said the project has been designed to accommodate tractor-trailers.

Rea subsequently said the anticipation for the businesses in the buildings would be for smaller trucks to come to and leave the site.

Thompson asked for a buffer along Allyson Road and Stevens said that could be accomplished. Thompson also raised the issue of fire suppression.

Stevens said the site will not have public water service or public sewer service, and he said the buildings as proposed would not have sprinklers, but he said that is an issue that could continue to be discussed.

During his comments, Kevin Render said, “This project does not fit in a residential area” and that remark was echoed by Scott Pattley, who said, “We want to preserve nature and the community.”

Brian Konopka asked how tall the buildings would be and was told by the applicant’s representatives the permitted height in the zone is 35 feet and that the buildings would comply with the permitted height.

Konopka said he was concerned trucks would drive on the neighboring residential streets even if signs are posted that say “no commercial vehicles.”

“Any commercial district brings crime to the neighborhood. This (proposal) is smack in the middle of suburbia. We have major issues with fire truck access, light pollution and the impact (of the project) on property values. That’s real. I don’t see any good in these warehouses at all,” Konopka said.

In his summation, Goldman, the applicant’s attorney, said the property is zoned highway commercial, the application conforms to all of the standards of the zone and no variances from Jackson’s municipal code are being requested.

On some applications, the Planning Board grants preliminary approval and final approval at the same time.

With several issues (Route 537 access, fire suppression, etc.) remaining unresolved, the board members approved a motion that was made to grant preliminary major site plan approval to the Yosef Rothenberg/463 Monmouth Road, LLC, application.

Final major site plan approval and subdivision approval of the 12-acre parcel into three lots would be considered during a future public hearing before the board.

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