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Application For 235,855-Square-Foot Dual Warehouses Project Wins Planning Board Approval

Kyle Kavinski, an engineer retained by the applicant, describes the warehouse project to the Planning Board.

A developer’s plan to raze four buildings – including a large office building – on Cottontail Lane and put up two warehouses was approved September 7 by a split Planning Board.

The two warehouses, which are being built “on spec,” meaning with no set tenants, are 116,530 square feet and 119,325 square feet, respectively. The developer plans 141 parking spaces.

The plan was approved by a 6-3 vote. Voting against the developer were Board members Ram Anbarasan, Charles Brown and Sami Shaban.

The project was opposed by members of a Canal Walk-based citizens group trying to stop the development of more warehouses in the township.

Questioning of the applicant’s witnesses, and interactions with some Board members by the citizens’ group, at times got testy.

Kyle Kavinski, the project’s engineer, told the Board that even though the project exceeds the allowed impervious surface coverage percentage, the project reduces current impervious coverage slightly, and also reduces the parking area that is there now.

“So in essence while we’re we’re reducing the impervious coverage, we’re also reducing the parking area and as a result of that reduction, there will be better water quality running off the site,” the applicant’s attorney, Peter Lanfrit, said.

The project also needed a variance for truck loading berths, but, Kavinski said, the berth depth proposed “is adequate … to provide safe access.”

The project’s architect, Kyle Ferrier, said the plans were drawn to allow for the subdivision of each warehouse to accommodate more than one tenant.

The buildings will also be solar-panel ready, Ferrier said.

The project’s traffic engineer told the Board that the warehouses would generate 411 vehicular trips during the day, more than 1,000 trips fewer than if the site continued as an office building.

The office building would generate about 10 trucks trips a day, while the warehouses would generate about 90 daily truck trips, he said.

Board member Robert Thomas took exception with that statement.

“I just want people to understand that it’s a reduction if it were still a functioning office building. As it stands now, its vacant …,” he said. “Every one of those trips is an increase over what’s there today.”

Area residents brought up concerns about pollution from idling trucks, tractor-trailers driving on inappropriate roads, and noise generated by the warehouse operations, among other issues.

Some also questioned why the warehouses are built on speculation.

“You would hope that my tenant would have tenants fairly soon after the building is built, otherwise they would not be very good business people,” Lanfrit said to one resident bringing up the issue.

Thomas also took issue with a member of the public who said the Board makes decisions based on financial concerns.

When it came time for a final vote, some Board members explained their “no” votes.

“This was a tough one, but I don’t think the applicant has done enough to be granted the variance,so I’m gonna vote no,” Brown said.

“I agree with Charles tat t his was a tough one, but I’ll still vote no,” Shaban said.

Members of the audience applauded after each “no” vote.

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