B9 Warehouses Opponents Hear Their Experts At Planning Board

OPPOSITION IS HEARD – Mary Paist-Goldman testifies about the B9 Schoolhouse warehouse project’s water management plan while attorney Stuart Lieberman looks on.

Opponents of a proposed two-warehouse development at Schoolhouse and Mettlers roads got the chance on July 19 to convince the Planning Board that the application should not be approved.

The opponents, the majority of whom are Canal Walk residents, relied on the testimony of an engineer, a sound consultant and a planner to make their case that the B9 Schoolhouse warehouse project, proposed by Link Logistics, should be denied.

The takeaways from that testimony were that the applicant’s engineers may have underestimated the amount of water runoff that will be generated by modern-day storms, and that a proposed dam may fail because of tree plantings, that there hasn’t been any substantial study of the noise that will be generated by the warehouse operation, and that the property’s zoning did not anticipate warehouses.

As have the past four hearings on this application, the July 19 session was held in the Board of Education’s administrative campus community room, where more than 200 people sat patiently – for the most part – during the 2.5-hour hearing.

The plan calls for the construction of one 144,450-square-foot warehouse and one 70,970-square-foot warehouse on the 20-acre lot.

The engineer hired by the opponents, Mary Paist-Goldman, told the Board that she had several concerns ab out the project: a study of the site’s water tables was done at the wrong time of year, when water levels would naturally be lower; that the stormwater management plan will steer about 1 million gallons of water to a dam that might not be able to handle that volume of water, and that between 50 and 75 trees and other plantings are planned for the area around the dam, which is not allowed under the state’s dam safety rules.

Paist-Goldman also told the Board that the stormwater management plan uses outdated precipitation charts that were last updated in 1999. She said the state Department of Environmental Protection has recently enacted a new rule requiring that precipitation rates of current storms be used instead. She said that although the plan was created prior to the new rule going into effect, engineers have known about it for about a year.

Mark Healey, the Township’s principal planner, said that he has seen many plans that have trees and landscaping in and around retention basins.

“Can you explain why this application you feel that the applicant placing landscaping in and around the basin is inconsistent with the rules?” he asked.

“In the basin is generally OK, it’s outside on the berm itself where vegetation is prohibited under the dam safety standards,” she said. “Putting vegetation on the down slope of the embankment … is what tends to cause those feeder roots” that cause dams and retention walls to fail.

Paist-Goldman contended that because the soil and water table tests were done in the summer, rather than between January and April, those test results should not be accepted.

But township engineer Darren Mazzei said that he’s seen many applications where soil tests were done during other parts of the year.

“I do believe they’ve complied with the testing requirement,” he said.

Paist-Goldman argued that because the applicant’s engineers unilaterally reclassified the type of soil in that area from what is indicated on official maps, state regulations require that the tests be done from January to April.

Gene Bode, the opponents’ noise consultant, told the Board that there was no substantive noise study conducted and that one should be because of the proximity of Canal Walk.

The final witness, Carlos Rodrigues, a planner, told the Board that “the site will not be recognizable after their site plan has been implemented.”

“What is being proposed does not meet the stated intent” of the Business and Industry zoning ordinance, he said.

“My contention is that the BI zone did not anticipate the current crop of warehouses,” he said.

Rodrigues’s assertions were challenged by Peter Lanfrit, Link’s attorney. Lanfrit was not able to complete his questioning of the planner – some of which became contentious – due to the late hour.

But he did ask a number of questions about Rodrigues’s understanding of the BI zone and whether a certain portion of Canal Walk is covered by the Mettlers Road scenic corridor overlay zone.

Lanfrit will resume his questioning of the opposition experts at the Board’s next hearing on the application, set for September 6.

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