A warehouse proposed on farmland along Route 94 in Blairstown has many residents worried but probably few are more apprehensive than Frank Arena, who farms 34 acres directly adjacent to the site.
“The more I see of this site plan, the more concerned I get,” said Arena.
Arena, a gregarious fixture at the Blairstown Farmers Market Saturday mornings and owner of a popular farm stand on Route 94, has been working his farm for 26 years.
A native of North Bergen, he spent summers in the Blairstown area with his family since childhood and knew he would end up here.
His farm sits in Knowlton, on the Blairstown border. The warehouse, a 73,780-square-foot building with 10 loading docks would be located on the Blairstown side adjacent to his farm.
The proposed site is zoned for general commercial and industrial use. As long as an application meets all requirements for the zone and all concerns of the Land Use Board are addressed, there is little that can be done to stop the project.
Arena said he understands, but he wants to make sure his issues with the runoff and other problems are addressed. What he is concerned about is the runoff from the proposed warehouse.
From the common property line, his farm slopes downward toward the Paulins Kill.
The plans call for two infiltration basins that would collect rainwater and runoff, said Bernd Hefele, attorney for developer Tritop Realty. Hefele assured Arena at the July 17th Land Use Board meeting that the plans would adequately protect Arena’s farm.
Arena remains unconvinced.
“There is already runoff from the property,” Arena said. “I’ll be flooded out.”
He said he plans to continue making his voice heard at the public hearings on the application. The next one will be before the Blairstown Land Use Board Aug. 21st at the Blairstown Municipal Building at 7:30.
All the produce harvested at the farm is sold directly to his customers, Arena said. It’s available at farmers markets and his farm stand, where he can often be found restocking his corn and cukes and chatting with people most afternoons.
He also grows beans, eggplants, zucchini, potatoes and just about anything else you’d find at a supermarket produce section. Except Arena’s is available the day it’s picked. He also grows tomatoes.
“I’m Italian. Of course, I grow tomatoes!” Arena said.
Joe Phalon, 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.