437,000-Square-Foot Warehouse Approved Off Elizabeth Avenue

Plans are to build the warehouse at Elizabeth Avenue and Grant Street.

An application for a 436,960-square-foot warehouse located at Elizabeth Avenue and Grant Street was approved June 1 by the Planning Board.

Duke Realty, the builder, is buying land for the warehouse from Rotor-Clip. Plans call for teh property to be subdivided, with the warehouse built on a newly created roughly 44-acre parcel.

Rotor-Clip will retain ownership of the other, roughly 25-acre parcel, upon which it currently has solar arrays and billboards.

The prospect of the large warehouse and the trucks it will attract sparked a delegation from South Bound Brook – led by Mayor Chris Shoffner – to appeal to the Board to do what it could to divert trucks from coming into their borough.

The trucks, they said, are too large for their residential streets and have caused safety issues in the past.

Shoffner said the truckers should follow other routes to Route 287, but do not, even though signage directing them has been erected.

“We put the sign up and they’re not following it,” she said. “They’re supposed to be professional drivers and they’re not following it.”

Mark Healey, the township’s principal planner, said that there is currently a study underway to map out the best, non-residential route for truckers to take to 287 in that part of the township. He said that recommendation should be forthcoming.

Rianna Kirchoff, the applicant’s traffic engineer, said Duke Realty is “not looking to have trucks enter South Bound Brook … trucks are primarily looking for the major arterial, which is 287.”

“We anticipate that any trucks traveling north on Elizabeth Avenue are going to use Campus Drive to Cottontail Lane to access 287,” she said. “If you’re looking to go southbound, you’re looking at exit 10, which you would access via Pierce Street to Davidson Avenue.”

Kirchoff said that traditional warehouse uses are not typically high traffic generators, and that the proposed use’s traffic impact would be “acceptable.”

“You’re looking at a minimal impact in terms of the development of the property with a warehouse,” she said.

The application also called for up to 50,000 square feet of office space, but Duke Realty’s David Lizza said the actual number would probably be smaller than that.

“We’re showing the max permitted per code,” he said. “As we don’t have a tenant today, we wanted the flexibility to show the potential.”

He said the actual number would probably be between 10,000 and 15,000 square feet.

The tenant, he said, would most likely be “the typical warehouse distribution user. Short-term storage of goods, they come from potentially the manufacturer, a warehouse, to a store. That would be the main use of this building.”

There were a bit of fireworks during the herring between Healey and Peter Lanfrit, teh applicant’s attorney.

Healey objected to Duke Realty’s request to be able to access the smaller lot through Rotor-Clip’s parking lot.

Lanfrit, through questioning Healey, attempted to show the Board that access had already been granted to that parcel when the solar arrays and billboard were approved. But Healey objected to what he considered were Lanfrit’s attempts to manipulate his answers.

“I’m not being deposed, I’m not in court. You ask a question; I’m providing an answer to the benefit of this Board,” he said.

Board attorney James Clarkin attempted to cool things down and asked Lanfrit if “there was a question pending.”

“The question is, was the solar field that is on that site and the billboards that were on that site approved by the zoning board or planning boards of this township?” Lanfrit asked.

“And the answer is yes,” Healey replied.

“Thank you,” Lanfrit said, cutting Healey off.

“No, I’m going to continue, as I may,” Healey said, his voice rising. “I’m not going to answer to a yes or no question, only because Mr. Lanfrit wants to limit me to a yes or no.”

The arrays and billboard, Healey said, are “both facilities that require very little access. You’re not creating a lot that has four acres of buildable land. We’re sitting here in 2022 where we know that builders are putting warehouses of all sizes on every last piece of land available, and this land is zoned for that, so it is very conceivable that someone is going to want to build some type of light industrial use on those 3- to 4-acres of very developable land.”

“It is my recommendation, and that of the township engineer, that the Board does not grant access to a piece of land that does not have sufficient access, one that requires somebody to drive through the parking lot and loading zone of another facility,” Healey said. “It’s poor planning.”

Lanfrit argued that anyone who may want to develop that smaller parcel would have to get Township approval.

“The Board has an obligation to think about how that lot might be developed,” Healey said.

Board member Robert Thomas agreed with Healey.

“We’re asked to approve a driveway and access road through a driveway and we don’t know who the end-user’s going to be,” he said.

“Nor do you know if there will be an end user,” Lanfrit replied.

Clarkin stepped in at that point and said that he did not see Healey’s point as a reason to deny the “relief the applicant is looking for now.”

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