FRANKLIN (Somerset) – A public hearing will be held next month on a controversial plan to build two warehouses on Schoolhouse Road and Mettlers Road.
A Township Planning Board hearing on the B9 school owner’s plan is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Jan. 9 at the Franklin Township Board of Education, Building 1, 2301 Route 27.
The owner of B9 School, owned by New York-based Link Logistics Real Estate, is seeking permits to build two warehouses, one 169,375 square feet and the other 71,600 square feet. Together, the warehouses will be the size of four football fields.
The buildings will also have a total of 4,000 square feet of office space.
In total, two warehouses will have 68 loading bays and 155 parking spaces.
The site will be accessed from two driveways on Schoolhouse Road. The westbound road will be restricted to passenger cars, while the eastbound road will mainly serve truck traffic.
A traffic engineer’s report from developer Dynamic Traffic concluded that traffic in the neighborhood “will not be significantly impaired.”
There are two houses on the 26.88-acre site that will be demolished.
The proposal drew opposition from residents of the area, who said the project would negatively affect their quality of life.
The property is bounded to the north by School Road with houses beyond. To the west is Mettlers Road and houses beyond. To the south is open space and more houses. In the east there are industrial buildings.
The developer’s environmental study concludes that “the proposed development will serve as a suitable addition to the surrounding development as well as to the local community. The entire subject site must be successfully integrated into the local environment without harming public or private natural resources.’
The Township Council made the first reading zoning ordinance to eliminate warehouses as a permitted use in the township’s business and industrial zone. It will be submitted to public hearings and finally approved on January 24.
The B9 Schoolhouse Owner Plan is not covered by the ordinance because the application was filed before the ordinance was passed.
According to the decree, Franklin experienced “exponential growth” in warehouse construction. Franklin is the most populous municipality in Somerset County and the 18th most populous municipality in New Jersey. The ordinance says the growth of warehouse space has “created a significant impact on the quality of life” in the township, including traffic on city roads, noise and air pollution.
The final passage of the ordinance will mean that a developer who wants to build a warehouse in the zone must now go to the city’s Board of Zoning Adjustments for a use variance, a process that is more rigorous than getting site plan approval from the city’s Planning Board . .
Franklin’s action comes after Bridgewater passed an ordinance in November that excludes warehouses as a primary use in all township zones.
The introduction of the ordinance follows growing community opposition to the construction of warehouses in the Elizabeth Avenue, Weston Canal Road and Schoolhouse Road corridors.
The northwest part of the township, due to its proximity to I-287, has become the center of warehouse development. Some warehouse projects have drawn opposition because they are near age-restricted communities.
Several million square feet of warehouse space has been built in the township since 2018 in more than two dozen projects.
Mike Dyck is a reporter for mycentraljersey.com. For unlimited access to his articles on Somerset and Hunterdon Counties, please subscribe or activate your digital account.