Sunday, April 21, 2024

Blairstown Warehouse Hearing to Continue August 21st – Knowlton & Neighbors Very Concerned

Architect Jorge Fernandez explains the site plans for the proposed warehouse on Route 94.
Photo by Joe Phalon, 7/2023.

Testimony for a 10-unit warehouse on the western border of Blairstown is expected to continue at the August 21st Township Land Use Board meeting.

The proposal by Tritop Realty, a Hackensack-based developer, calls for a 73,780-square-foot building that could be divided into as many as 10, 6,765-square-foot units. Each unit would include 500 square feet of office space.

The building would be situated on an 8.9 triangular-shaped lot along the border of Knowlton, just north of the Chef’s restaurant and a farm stand at milepost number 4 on Route 94.

The property, currently used as farmland, would include several drainage basins and 94 parking spaces.

The approximate location of an infiltration basin, part of a warehouse proposal. The building
would be to the left, near the tree line. Photo by Joe Phalon, 7/2023.

The property is already zoned GCI, or general commercial and industrial, which would permit use as a warehouse.

Any application would be subject to review and approval by the Land Use
Board, which would determine if all township master plan requirements for the site are met.

Bernd Hefele, attorney for Tritop, said no variances would be needed for the proposal but that the developer is requesting a waiver to move a driveway closer to a property line than is permitted.

“This is a permitted use,” Hefele said. “It requires no variances.”

Architect Jorge Fernandez testified at the July meeting that the warehouse would include 10 loading docks on the rear of the building, which would be accessed by a single driveway on the west side of the building. There are no specific parking spots for trucks waiting to be loaded or unloaded.

Trucks stacking up because loading docks were not available was of particular concern to several Land Use Board members. Hefele said the lot was not designed to be a storage area for trucks and that any trucks would be expected to arrive, load or unload, then be on their way. He added that it would be up to the tenants to arrange arrivals.

Denis Keenan, an engineer representing Tritop, said that there would be room between each loading dock for trucks to wait if necessary.

Most truck traffic to the site is expected to get there from Route I-80, which would mean they travel 3.5 miles on Roue 94 through Knowlton, then about 250 feet into Blairstown.

The section of Route 94, along milepost number 4, where the warehouse would be located. Photo by Joe Phalon, 7/2023.

This burden does not sit well with Knowlton Mayor Frank Van Horn.

“We really don’t want this to happen,” Van Horn said, acknowledging that if the proposal conforms to zoning requirements, there’s really no way to stop it.

“We’re going to bear the brunt of the traffic.”

Van Horn said he was particularly concerned about the Hainesburg section of the township along Route 94, where the state highway speed limit abruptly drops from 50 mph to 35 mph. The highway winds through the small but densely populated area on as S-curve.

He was also concerned about the tunnel on Route 94, constructed in 1911 and if the increase in traffic would result in tractor-trailers frequently meeting in the tunnel.

“This is a real kicker for us,” Van Horn said. “We get no benefit from this.”

The hearings on the warehouse are expected to continue at the August 21st Land Use Board meeting at the Blairstown Municipal Building, 106 Route 94.

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.