Jackson zoners deny request for reconsideration of warehouse application

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JACKSON — The members of the Jackson Zoning Board of Adjustment have denied an applicant’s request for reconsideration of a previous denial of a development application.

The motion for reconsideration of the County Line Holdings, LLC, application was heard by the board members during a meeting on Nov. 16 and decided that night.

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Attorney Adam D. Pfeffer, who represents County Line Holdings, applied to the zoning board for reconsideration of its previous denial of a use variance regarding property on North County Line Road in the Highway Commercial zone.

The applicant sought approval to permit warehouse/office uses to accommodate four buildings in the HC zone where warehouse/offices are not a permitted use.

The applicant proposed to construct Building “A” with 81,900 square feet of warehouse space and 13,000 square feet of mezzanine office space; Building “B” with 42,500 square feet of warehouse space and 10,000 square feet of mezzanine office space; Building “C” with 105,000 square feet of warehouse space and 5,000 square feet of mezzanine office space; and Building “D” with 168,095 square feet of warehouse space and 6,800 square feet of mezzanine office space.

Additional proposed improvements included a loading area for each building and parking for a total of 439 vehicles. Access to the site was proposed from County Line Road.

Pfeffer described the proposed space as “general warehousing” and said contractor warehousing is permitted at the site now.

Contractor warehousing typically requires less space than general warehousing, according to other applications that have recently been considered by the zoning board.

Pfeffer said when the County Line Holdings application was presented a year ago, the applicant’s financial witness was not available.

During the Nov. 16 meeting, Pfeffer presented Robert Benecke to provide financial information in a bid for reconsideration of the proposal.

Benecke said the proposal for 400,000 square feet of warehouse space “would provide for a better range of uses” by an array of businesses.

He said the site generates about $65,000 in annual property taxes now, but if it was developed as proposed, he said the annual property taxes could approach $1.5 million.

During his testimony, Benecke sought to make the case for general warehousing at the location. He said the project would cost about $70 million to construct and added, “We would like to have as much rentability as possible across a range of businesses.”

Engineer and planner Brian Flannery testified regarding the proposed use of the site and not the specific site plan. He said the applicant was seeking a use variance for the general warehousing project.

Flannery said the development would benefit Jackson’s tax base and provide employment opportunities. He said the property has been cleared and vacant for many years, but has not been developed.

During deliberations, board member James Hurley said the applicant’s representatives may want to approach Jackson’s municipal officials to discuss the financial implications of the development and the current zoning on the property.

Municipal officials have the authority to change the zoning on a property and to determine the types of uses that are permitted on a property without the need for a use variance.

Hurley said financial issues are not within the purview of the zoning board and he said he did not find the general warehousing use to be an inherently beneficial use to Jackson.

“The financial information is not relevant for me to make a decision” on the use variance, he said.

At that time a motion was made to deny the applicant’s request for reconsideration and to affirm the findings of denial of the previous zoning board hearing.

On a roll call vote, Chairman Scott Najarian, Vice Chairwoman Lynne Bradley, Jeanine Fritch, Carl Book Jr., John Spalthoff and Hurley voted “yes.” Board member Steve Costanzo voted “no.” The applicant’s request for reconsideration was denied in the 6-1 vote.

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