East Windsor Township Zoning Board reviews warehouse proposal on Mercer Street

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A proposal to develop a warehouse on Mercer Street/Route 33 drew stiff opposition from neighbors in the roll out of a use variance application before the East Windsor Township Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Applicant 624 East Windsor Hi-Tech Associates LLC filed an application for a use variance for a 209,000-square-foot warehouse on part of a 26.5-acre lot at 624 Mercer St. The variance is needed because a warehouse is not a permitted use in the C-R Corridor Revitalization zone.

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After two hours of testimony by the applicant’s engineer at the Zoning Board of Adjustment’s Feb. 16 meeting, it was agreed to continue the public hearing on the application to the Zoning Board’s May 18 meeting.

The application is being presented in two parts – a use variance application which would be followed by a second application for site plan approval, attorney Jason Tuvel said. If the use variance is approved, then his client would return with a site plan application.

Engineer Thomas Muller told the board that the warehouse is proposed on a portion of the 26.5-acre lot. The applicant would subdivide the tract and place the warehouse on a 16.9-acre lot. The remainder lot could be developed later.

Muller outlined a concept plan for the proposed warehouse development. The 209,000-square-foot warehouse would include 9,000 square feet of office space. The rest of the building would be for warehouse use.

The concept plan showed two driveway entrances – one on the east end of the property and one on the west end. Two separate parking areas for a combined 196 parking spaces are proposed. There would be 58 truck loading docks and 47 outdoor trailer parking spaces.

The township’s zoning ordinance requires 245 parking spaces, but Muller said his client believes 196 parking spaces would be adequate. A tenant has not been identified for the warehouse, he said.

A three- to five-foot-tall landscaped berm would be installed along the property frontage, Muller said.

Dan Dobromilsky, the zoning board’s landscape consultant, said he was not convinced that the applicant would be able to achieve what it set out to do.

“I don’t know how the Zoning Board (can grant the use variance) without a site plan,” Dobromilsky said, adding the conceptual site plan is “insufficient and it does not work.”

Tuval, the applicant’s attorney, said his client does not want to prepare a full site plan at this time. If the use variance is granted, his client will come back to the Zoning Board with a full site plan, he said.

When the meeting was opened for public comment, several residents expressed their objections to the proposed warehouse. Some of the objectors live in the residential development that borders the proposed warehouse site.

Craig Pollins, who is a real estate appraiser and who lives on Lexington Court, said no one had spoken about the impact on real estate values.

“You are not addressing the negative impact on real estate values. Why does East Windsor need it? How will it benefit East Windsor,” Pollins said.

Tuval said those questions would be answered by different witnesses who will testify at subsequent meetings.

Alex Costantino, who lives on South Main Street in Hightstown Borough, said the application as presented does not allow for enough transparency. He asked how the Zoning Board could vote on granting a use variance without seeing a fully developed site plan.

Zoning Board of Adjustment chairman Rochelle Shifman added “a lot more” information is needed.

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