HOWELL – With a vote of 3-3, members of the Howell Planning Board ultimately denied the application that proposed construction of two warehouses on Howell Road.
Although the Planning Board usually has nine regular members and two alternate members, only six were present at a recent meeting.
That evening, the applicant AAFFHW Property LLC was represented by attorney Kenneth Pape. Pape said his client was unaware the board would only have six members seated and wished they had been informed earlier.
The application was filed by AAFFHW Property LLC as applicant, and Clayton, Peter and John A. Forman as owners.
According to the application, the owners were seeking preliminary and final major site plan approval to construct two one-story warehouse buildings with office space.
Building A was proposed to total 325,737 square feet, with 305,737 square feet of warehouse space and 20,000 square feet of office space. In addition, 55 loading bays, two drive-in bays, 161 vehicle parking spaces and 68 tractor-trailer parking spaces were proposed.
Building B was proposed to total 98,828 square feet, with 89,828 square feet of warehouse space and 9,000 square feet of office space, and an additional 28 loading bays, two drive-in bays and 94 vehicle parking spaces.
They also proposed site improvements including lighting, landscaping, storm water management facilities, an irrigation pump house, a sanitary sewer pump station and an optional fire water tank.
The proposal consists of extending a public water main from Fairfield Road and sanitary sewer force main from Adelphia Road to the proposed warehouses at 29 Howell Road.
The warehouses totaled 29 acres, sitting between Business Route 33 and the Route 33 bypass. It has frontage along Howell Road to the east, Okerson Road and Michael Curtin Lane to the north, and the Route 33 bypass to the south.
The application was partially heard on September 2 and was then carried to the October 21 meeting.
During the public comment of the meeting, a resident explained his concerns on the proximity of the warehouse to his home, stating how “the project would be in his back yard.”
“I have lived on this property for 38 years. I am a business owner in Howell for 44 years. I started my shop when I was 23 and I am now 67. The Jerseyville section of Howell has had a quaintness about it. I am not opposed to progress,” Albert Cestero of Howell Road said.
Cestero compared the proposal to the Port Authority bus terminal in New York City. He explained how they have 223 loading bays, or gates, for buses and the two buildings that were being proposed in Howell would have a total of 83 loading docks.
Pape said the comparison was “interesting” and explained that the applicant was not proposing a bus depot and the proposed development fits the zone and Howell’s master plan
“Tractor-trailers are actually longer than buses, they take up more space, they are both fueled by diesel. I used the analogy of the Port Authority because it is probably the biggest and busiest bus terminal in the world and you are trying to turn this area here (into that),” Cestero said.
Cestero further asked the board members to deny the application as he believes it does not fit in the Township.
After the public hearing was closed, a motion was made to approve the AAFFHW Property application.
Planning Board Chairman Brian Tannehaus, Police Chief Andrew Kudrick, who sits on the board, and board member Robert Seaman voted “yes” on the motion to grant preliminary and final site plan approval. Board members Paul Boisvert, Paul Dorato and Joe Cristiano voted “no” on the motion.
With a vote of 3-3, the application was denied.