Canal Walk Anti-Warehouse Group Presents Township Council With ‘Wish-List’

Canal Walk resident Kiki Anastasakos reads her group’s wish-list to the Township Council.

Canal Walk residents opposed to what they call warehouse sprawl in the township presented the Township Council on November 10 with a “wish-list” of actions they say would protect residents from the ill effects of warehouses.

The group, calling itself the Citizens Warehouse Action Group, came together in the summer in the wake of an application by a developer to build two warehouses – totaling more than 244,000 square feet – at Schoolhouse and Mettlers roads.

Group members have attended Council, Planning and Zoning boards and various township commission meetings since then, promoting their anti-warehouse message.

That lobbying in late summer resulted in the Council fast-tracking an ordinance limiting where warehouses can be built. Six developers have taken the Township to court over the ordinance.

The Council November 10 meeting was the first time the group presented a list of actions they wish the Council to take.

Members of the group attended the meeting fresh off an afternoon rally at the municipal gazebo. The rally was attended by between 150 and 200 people.

“Do we want a town that values the well-being of its residents and protects its valuable natural resources, or de we want to sacrifice it on the altar of E-commerce?” group member Kiki Anastasakos asked the Council.

“Unmitigated warehouse sprawl affects the health and quality of life of all Franklin Township residents and will permanently transform our historic town into a warehouse hub,” she said.

The requested actions, presented by Anastasakos and fellow group member Debbie Stuart, were:

  • Increase buffer zones between warehouses and residential areas and public schools to 1,000 feet.
  • Limit the use of variances as a way for builders to bypass existing ordinances.
  • Place building height limits of no greater than 30 feet, except for hotels and multi-family apartment buildings.
  • Approve a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for trucks in warehouses located within three-quarters of a mile from residential areas.
  • Declare an immediate moratorium to any additional warehouses until the township completes (a) an environmental study assessing the public health risks of air, water and noise pollution produced by warehouses, (b) a traffic study addressing heavy truck congestion and road safety and ( c ) a report enumerating the number of square footage of all existing warehouses, including those currently vacant.
  • Revise the town’s Master Plan, incorporating community input, creating a vision for the town focusing on attracting diversified business investment while protecting the well-being of all residents.

Mayor Phil Kramer thanked the group for the list.

“I like this,” he said. “Not that I’m saying we can do every little point here, but this is a precise, condensed, message and we can at least look at that and work with that.”

Township Manager Robert Vornlocker said that a meeting to revise the Master Plan was in the works.

Vornlocker said he recently met with Planning Board chairman Michael Orsini, Zoning Board of Adjustment chairman Robert Thomas, Kramer, township Principal Planner Mark Healey and Vince Dominach, the township’s Economic Development Director to lay the meeting’s groundwork.

He said the re-examination will include a “comprehensive traffic impact study of the (Business and Industry) zone areas of Franklin Township.”

“Mr. Healey is in the process of working on the scope of the study because it will have to go out for a Request for Proposals,” he said.

Vornlocker said the Planning Board has the charge to call for such a re-examination, which it will do.

The Franklin Reporter & Advocate spoke with the anti-warehouse rally organizers and live-streamed the rally:

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