Warehouses To Replace Farmland At Weston Canal/Randolph Roads

Architect Michael Baumstack describes the proposed warehouses to the Planning Board.

More than 120 acres of primarily farmland at Weston Canal and Randolph roads will be converted into three warehouses under a plan approved June 6 by the Planning Board.

The project, proposed by Bridge Development Partners of Parsippany, will result in more than 1.7 million square feet in three buildings.

Two of the buildings will measure 308,550 square feet, and a third will measure 1,065,689 square feet.

The structures, which are being built “on spec,” will be constructed to accommodate one or multiple tenants.

The project will also run up against an historic cemetery at the corner of the two roads. That will be set off by a line of trees.

The project needed five variances from township zoning regulations, but it was one in particular that seemed to concern the board most.

Zoning regulations in the M-1 – light industrial – zone require a buffer of at last 50 feet from the street to the front yard of a structure. The Bridge Development plan included parking spaces in some areas along Randolph Road that fell within that 50-foot setback.

Board vice chairwoman Cecile MacIvor asked if the larger building couldn’t be re-designed as a pentagon shape, rather than a rectangle, to eliminate that violation, and board chairman Michael Orsini asked why the planner put the parking in the front of the building.

To the first question, engineer Robert Freud said that designing anything other than a rectangle would lead to an “inefficient” building, and addressing the second question, he said that it was the planner’s desire to “keep that mass of building” out of site of drivers down Randolph Road.

Any encroachment on the buffer, he said, could be mitigated by a five-foot buffer and landscaping.

MacIvor wasn’t convinced.

“I think with 129 acres of land, asking to push within 50 feet of your setback is asking a lot,” she said.

Mark Healey, the township’s principal planner, asked Freud to talk about what efforts the developer took to avoid the parking spot situation.

“We certainly did look at options,” Freud said. “We don’t take lightly coming in here and asking for variance relief.”

After a short break in the hearing, Lanfrit told the board that his client would be willing to remove the parking spots that are in violation if the board would allow him to construct 24-foot-wide driving aisles in the parking lot, rather than the required 26-feet-wide aisles.

“If we do that, then we would be able to at least take some of the parking spaces in violation, they would not be in violation,” he said. “Any parking spaces that would be within the 50-foot setback, we would remove. However, we do have the ability to recapture some of those parking spaces at the end of the building.”

Board members said they were agreeable to that solution.

The board also responded favorably to the warehouses’ design. The buildings will be solar-ready and will also feature windows.

“I guess you can do something with warehouses,” Orsini said. “You did a good job.”

“I’m happy they’re not just boxes,” board member Robert Thomas said.

The plan was unanimously approved by the board.


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