Sunday, April 14, 2024

Warehouse Testimony to Continue January 29

The Blairstown land use board is expected to continue its road trip to the North Warren Regional High School auditorium for its January 29 meeting to hear continued testimony over a warehouse proposed for Route 94.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., a half hour earlier than the board’s usual start. Traffic to and from the site was a concern of a number of board members and attendees, and is a topic expected to continue being discussed at the next meeting.

A December meeting had been moved to the high school in anticipation of a large turnout of residents interested in the warehouse. Although just a few dozen people attended that meeting, the land use board decided to continue using the auditorium venue to avoid possible overcrowding at the municipal building.

The developer, Hackensack-based Tritop Realty, in September submitted revised plans for the triangular 8.9-acre tract that included a reduction in sub-units from 10 to nine and a smaller parking lot. The revised plans also call for relocating a driveway, which would eliminate an earlier need for a waiver from the land use board, said Tritop attorney Bernd Hefele.

At the December hearing, opponents of the warehouse pressed representatives to be more specific about the potential uses of the building.

Calling the intended-use issue “the elephant in the room,” attorney Richard Schneider, representing Frank Arena, who owns a farm directly adjacent to the site, asserted that the plans for the building could result in a wide array of uses not spelled out in the proposal.

Hefele said he disagreed with Schneider’s characterization of the issue, disputing a pachyderm presence in the venue.

Land use board attorney Roger Thomas attempted to clarify the issue of use saying that the application before the board involved a warehouse, not an assembly plant or distribution center. That did not, however, rule out other commercial uses for the building provided they complied with the zoning ordinances that applied to the property, he added.

Triptop project planner John McDonough acknowledged that Tritop was not shutting the door on a retail component such as a plumbing supply company, using the building as a warehouse and as a point of sale to customers.

A deviation from use specifically as a warehouse to other permitted uses led several board members and residents to question if traffic studies submitted by Tritop were sufficient to address those issues, a discussion expected to resume January 29 at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium.

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.