And just like that…
The half-decade-long battle between residents of White Township and a developer over more than two million square feet of warehouses on farmland came to an unexpected close with the announcement the state would purchase the property for preserved farmland.
This comes as a relief not only to people in White but also surrounding communities—particularly Knowlton—that feared they would bear the brunt of truck traffic traveling to and from the warehouses.
Anthony Sposaro, attorney for developer Jaindl Land Development Co., announced the plan at the White Township planning board’s November 1 meeting. He said the company has a tentative agreement to sell the 585-acre property to New Jersey Agriculture Development Committee.
“Yes, Warren County, this is a victory,” said Citizens for Sustainable Development, an organization opposing the warehouses, in a statement. “Nearly 600 acres of White Township farmland in Warren County, New Jersey, to be preserved by the state of New Jersey. They have entered an agreement to purchase from Jaindl as preserved farmland.”
Jaindl, which has proposed two warehouses on Foul Rift Road, one measuring 1,860,000 square feet and the other 860,000 square feet, purchased the property in 2019 for $11 million. The terms of the deal with the state have not been released with Sposaro saying details are being ironed out and that he would keep the planning board updated on the progress.
The announcement came just days after the Warren County planning board said in an October 23 letter to Jaindl that it was marking the application for the warehouses closed because after more than four years of consideration, there were still too many questions Jaindl had not addressed.
Sposaro did not indicate if that had any bearing on Jaindl’s decision to abandon the proposal. The county’s action would not have necessarily doomed the project, as the applicant, Jaindl, would have up to a year to resubmit the application.
Throughout the summer, opponents of the project packed planning board meetings, which had to be moved from the municipal building to the nearby school all-purpose room to accommodate the crowds. This past spring, opponents of the warehouses had staged protests outside township offices before the meeting.
Sporting orange shirts and signs, up to 200 could be found at the four corners of Routes 46 and 519 urging passing motorists to honk support.
In August, they had a folk singer and guitarist perform who adapted 1960s protest songs to fit the Jaindl resistance. The music kept with the spirit of the protests, but Grammys are unlikely.
Citizens for Sustainable Development said that while they are pleased with the deal, they plan to see it through to completion.
“Four years and we’ll not give up on this victory until it’s a done deal,” they 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.