Recycling Center Challenged In Jackson

Photo courtesy Google Street View

JACKSON – Will a proposed recycling facility negatively impact township roads when vehicles enter and exit the site on Wright-Debow Road?

That is the question that zoning board members, residents and representatives of the applicant, A&A Truck Parts have been trying to determine since May.

Some residents feel the proposed 48-acre project will also cause a noise problem. Among those opposed to it is Leon D. Thatcher Jr., a former member and chairman of township Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Thatcher stated in an e-mail to The Jackson Times that “this is a junkyard. It does not belong, permitted or conform to the Jackson Township Master Plan. This zone is a LM (light manufacturing) Zone which is designated to be offices and other compatible uses, not a junk yard.

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“Not only is it not permitted but requires no fewer than seven other variances. This junk yard will also contaminate the goals of the Jackson Master Plan. No one else would want develop their property next to or near a junk yard,” Thatcher said.

For the last four years, Hurley Road resident Charles Baker has been trying to stop this proposed development. In 2014, the zoning board granted approval to A&A Truck Parts’ project.

Thatcher noted that zoning laws require development in the light industrial zone to be no more than three acres. The A&A Truck Parts proposal calls for a 48-acre development.

Baker filed a lawsuit arguing that there was misleading testimony. A Superior Court judge upheld the zoning board ruling, but in 2017, the appellate court overruled the board – vacating the prior approval and requiring a new hearing to be held.

Testimony was heard during the last board meeting. The application involves a use variance from the board to operate the recycling center for used truck parts and trailer parts.

Currently, recycling is not a permitted use in the Commercial Office/Light Industrial zone on Wright-Debow Road.

Traffic engineer John Rea testified on behalf of the applicant. Rea discussed the condition of the pavement on Wright-Debow Road and whether the road could handle the traffic flow.

Read said he conducted traffic studies during the summer of 2017. He admitted he was not an expert on pavement but as a traffic engineer is familiar with capacity and safety issues and if there was a safety issue there would have been a posted truck restriction on Wright-Debow Road. He added that there were existing businesses in the vicinity that also generate truck traffic.

Rea said he conducted follow up traffic counts in October of that year and turning movement counts were performed at the intersection of Patterson and Wright-Debow roads. He added that he did not feel there were any issues with traffic counts.

Attorney Ray Shea and Ian Borden represented the applicant, A&A Truck Parts, Inc., during the most recent meeting. Borden said the facility was not a junkyard and the distinction is a recycling licensed Class A center. Shea added that it could be both.

Thatcher spoke during the public comment period and said that the State Department of Transportation had a regulation that a junkyard could not be within 300 feet of a highway.

Noise level complaints were also addressed during the session and it was noted that diesel loaders and excavators would be operating in an enclosed building that would prevent anyone from hearing any noise. The hours of operation would be Monday – Saturday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Shea said the applicant would comply concerning noise level restrictions. He referred to a document presented by Thatcher which is a 1970 law that states you can comply within 1,000 feet.

Denise Garner, of Evergreen Court, lives 1,000 feet from the proposed facility. She said a brick and mortar building enclosure would be better to contain noise and that clearing 48 acres will amplify the noise.

Photo by Jennifer Peacock

Shea responded that noise is a quality of life issue in a residential area and felt it’s not a big deal to record noise.

Mike Testa, of Ernest Way, said there were too many homes to pass to get to that property and the hours of operation are a problem. He also suggested the applicant move this business to another end of town.

Thatcher said he felt the plan doesn’t meet the objectives of the Master Plan and needs no fewer than eight variances. He added that the junkyard definition states more than one abandoned vehicle shall be deemed a junkyard and it doesn’t belong in the LM Zone.

Katherine Testa, of Ernest Way, expressed concerns with fire hazards through the woods and was advised there was a storm water basin for fire suppression.

Others expressed concerns about fencing, theft, and vandalism

Thom Kirwan, the chief operating officer of A&A Trucking said the firm chooses to be closed on Sundays at their Freehold facility and can operate to 6 p.m. He said there would be no stacking or vehicles waiting to come in. He said the company buys vehicles from auctions and trucking outfits which are purchased on site.

The application hearing is scheduled to continue during the board’s Sept. 5 meeting.