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Testimony on plan for four warehouses in Howell to resume on Oct. 20

HOWELL — Testimony on an applicant’s plan to construct four warehouses on a 99-acre Randolph Road property in Howell is scheduled to resume during the Oct. 20 meeting of the Planning Board.

The meeting will be held in a remote manner. The Planning Board has not resumed holding in-person meetings following the coronavirus pandemic.

Instructions on how to view the meeting live on Oct. 20 will be available on the meeting agenda, which will be posted on the municipal website.

The Monmouth Commerce Center, LLC, application that is now before the board is a revised version of an application that was previously heard in 2018.

At that time, the applicant proposed the construction of nine warehouses totaling 1.24 million square feet on the Randolph Road property. That application was not approved.

During a meeting on Sept. 15, representatives of Monmouth Commerce Center, as the applicant, and Lawrence Katz and Fellx Pflaster, as the owners, unveiled a plan seeking preliminary and final major site plan approval to construct four one-story warehouses totaling 940,000 square feet.

Each building will have a small amount of office space and its own parking spaces and loading docks.

Monmouth Commerce Center was represented by attorneys Meryl Gonchar and Adam Faiella, engineer Steven Cattani and architect Kyle Ferrier.

In her opening remarks, Gonchar said the applicant’s intention is to comply with all requirements related to buffering the site from nearby homes.

Gonchar said the current application would result in 8,000 fewer trees being removed from the property than what was proposed in the 2018 application when nine warehouses were on the drawing board.

During his testimony, Cattani said the property where the applicant is seeking to construct the four warehouses has been unoccupied for 30 or 40 years.

Cattani said the proposed warehouses – two large buildings and two smaller buildings – would be used for the short-term and long-term storage of building materials and products. He said the proposed buildings would not be what have come to be known as Amazon-type fulfillment centers.

“These warehouses are not employee-driven,” Cattani said.

The engineer said the latest version of the Monmouth Commerce Center application proposes three driveways on Randolph Road; two driveways will only be for trucks and one driveway will only be for passenger vehicles.

Cattani said it is the applicant’s intention that when trucks leave the site, the drivers will only be permitted to turn left to go toward what will become a signalized intersection at Randolph Road and Route 547 (Lakewood-Farmingdale Road). The applicant’s plan is to install a traffic signal at that intersection.

One previous version of the revised Monmouth Commerce Center application showed a proposed driveway on nearby Brook Road, but that has been eliminated from the plan that is now before the board.

As well, one earlier version of the revised application showed a reduction in the number of warehouses from nine to five on the property, but that has since been changed to the four buildings that are now being proposed.

Additional site improvements would consist of lighting, landscaping, above-ground infiltration basins to address storm water management and garbage enclosures, according to information provided by the Planning Board.

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

Cattani said the buildings would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and he said all of the buildings combined would have between 175 and 200 employees. There may be multiple tenants in a building, and no tenants have been identified at this time.

Regarding vehicles coming to and leaving the property, he said the site has been designed to separate truck traffic from passenger vehicle traffic.

During his testimony, Ferrier discussed the construction of the buildings – concrete slab on grade, with each building 36 feet tall – and specific design elements of the warehouses. He said each building would be served by a sprinkler system.

Members of the public who were viewing the Sept. 15 Planning Board meeting did not have the opportunity to comment on the Monmouth Commerce Center application that evening.

As the Sept. 15 meeting was concluding and the Oct. 20 meeting was being scheduled to be held in a virtual manner, the board’s administrative officer commented that the panel “is not going back live anytime soon.”

Tri-Town News Managing Editor Mark Rosman contributed to this article.

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