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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Developer Presents Revised Warehouse Plans for Blairstown

Tom Graham, engineer for Tritop Realty, explains updated warehouse plans. Photo by Joe Phalon, 9/2023.

The developers of a proposed warehouse on Route 94 in Blairstown returned to the Land Use Board September 25 with updated plans that decrease the size of the building along with other revisions.

The redrawn plans submitted by Tritop Realty, a Hackensack-based developer, would reduce the 10-unit building to nine, eliminate second floor office space and reduce parking spaces from 94 to 84, according to Tritop architect Jorge Fernandez.

With the reduction of units from 10 to nine, one loading dock would also be eliminated. The original plans called for a waiver for the driveway to the back of the warehouse, where the loading docks would be located, to encroach less than 50 feet from adjacent property.

The new plans have been redrawn to eliminate that issue, Fernandez said.

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

The property is currently used as farmland and would include several drainage basins. These basins have been of particular concern to Frank Arena, the owner of a farm directly adjacent to the proposed warehouse site. The drainage basins, which would catch and hold rain runoff, according to Tom Graham, and engineer for Tritop, are poised at a higher elevation above his farm, Arena said.

Graham said the basins would be built so that runoff is diverted away from Arena’s property and directed toward the rear of the warehouse property. Arena remained unconvinced.

“Those basins will fail,” Arena said.

Frank Arena, left, whose farm directly abuts the proposed warehouse site, explains his concerns
to the Blairstown Land Use Board. Photo by Joe Phalon, 9/2023

Truck traffic to and from and within the warehouse site continued to raise concerns with the revised plans.

The plans call for the structure to initially be built as one large open space, which then could be divided into as many as nine individual units, each with its own loading dock.

Tritop attorney Bernd Hefele said there are no known tenants at this point. Conceivably one company could occupy the entire building or up to nine separate tenants could lease space. The issue that concerned several members of the board and residents was where trucks would go while waiting for access to a loading dock.

“I’m concerned about the lack of a staging area,” said land use board member Jeanette Miksa.

Graham, Tritop’s engineer, said the back area opposite the loading docks would have several hundred feet of curb space for trucks to wait. At a previous hearing, representatives of Tritop suggested it would be the responsibility of tenants to coordinate the coming and going of trucks so they did not conflict, an idea several members of the board found to be unrealistic.

The property is already zoned GCI, or general commercial and industrial, which would permit use as a warehouse. Among the existing requirements for use in the zone, hours of operation must be limited to 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Lighting on the site would be reduced from 8:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., Tritop indicated.

While the property entirely in Blairstown but right along the border with Knowlton, trucks traveling to the warehouse from Interstate 80 on Route 94 would traverse just a couple hundred feet of highway in Blairstown while covering more than three miles in Knowlton.

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

“We really don’t want this to happen,” Van Horn said after the previous hearing on the site. “We’re going to bear the brunt of the traffic.”

He acknowledged that if the proposal conforms to zoning requirements, there’s really no way to stop it.

But 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 an S-curve, a concern echoed by several residents at the September 25 meeting.

The public hearing on the warehouse proposed is expected to resume at the October 16 Land Use Board meeting.

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.