Howell planners will hold special meeting for Monmouth Commerce Center warehouses

HOWELL – The Howell Planning Board will hold a special meeting on July 29 to continue hearing testimony from an applicant that is proposing to construct nine warehouses at the intersection of Randolph and Oak Glen roads.

Monmouth Commerce Center, the applicant, and Lawrence Katz and Felix Pflaster, as owners, are proposing to construct nine warehouses, ranging in size from 85,000 square feet to 150,000 square feet, totaling 1.2 million square feet on a 99-acre parcel. The plan also proposes parking for 706 vehicles, 142 trailer parking spaces and 234 loading spaces.

Attorney Meryl Gonchar, architect Rick Pratt and traffic engineer Justin Taylor represented the applicant at the board’s June 20 meeting when testimony on the application resumed.

Attorney Mark Caliguire represented residents who are objecting to the application.

During Pratt’s testimony, Howell Police Chief Andrew Kudrick, who sits on the board, asked the architect if there would be any floor drains in the warehouses, outside the restrooms.

Pratt said unless there is a process taking place in a warehouse that requires a floor drain, there will not be floor drains.

He explained that rooftop equipment would typically be “air changing” and not air conditioning.

“There are multiple units, but they would be toward the loading dock side and they would be not visible from the road,” Pratt said, adding there would be small rooftop air conditioning units for the office space that has been proposed.

Pratt was asked if there would be second story office space in any of the warehouses. He said that is a possibility, depending on a tenant’s needs.

He was asked about the possibility a tenant might use hazardous materials and if that occurred, how it would affect the storage.

“I have never had a warehouse in the 20 years that I have done warehouses where we have had a need for a (hazardous) use inside the building,” Pratt said, explaining that building codes allow a certain amount of materials such as aerosols, paint and cleaners to be stored.

During public comment, Joan Osborne, who chairs the Howell Environmental Commission, returned to the topic of floor drains.

“You indicated no architectural changes would be necessary. Would there be anything on the site plan engineering-wise that might need to be changed? If they went from one system to another to control these types of spills to ensure that any hazardous material would not be drained into the detention basin or (a) river,” Osborne said.

Pratt said anything coming from a building would be contained, either in the building or in a special storage well outside the building, “but it would not be connected to the storm drains.”

Before Taylor began his testimony regarding traffic, Caliguire said it was obvious that traffic was going to be a significant part of the residents’ objection to the application.

“There are going to be literally hundreds of tractor-trailers on the road once this (project) is all built out,” the attorney said.

Caliguire said a traffic report regarding the application is expected to be updated to reflect changes that will be made and he suggested that perhaps Taylor should testify after the report is updated.

However, Taylor was called to testify by Gonchar and he said the applicant’s representatives studied nearby intersections with the help of the board’s professionals.

“This (study) included the intersection of Route 547 and Randolph Road, Randolph and Oak Glen roads, Oak Glen Road to Lakewood-Allenwood Road, as well as two signalized intersections on the way to Interstate 195, Maxim Road and (Soldier Memorial Park), and at Route 549 and Route 547,” Taylor said.

He said there are generally good levels of service along the Route 547 corridor.

“However, the intersection of Randolph Road and Route 547 is currently failing. It is operating over capacity during the evening peak hour because of the existing traffic uses that are currently on the road,” Taylor said.

He said the intersection of Oak Glen and Lakewood-Allenwood roads is operating over capacity in its existing condition.

Taylor said the applicant’s representatives met with the board’s professionals to discuss other projects in the area that may affect traffic.

Board member Robert Nicastro asked what those other projects were.

Taylor mentioned a project that is known as 41 Randolph LLC and a proposed solid waste transfer station.

41 Randolph LLC is expected to consist of five tenant units ranging in size from 9,946 square feet to 29,687 square feet of flex space, with office areas and loading areas, at 41 Randolph Road.

Resource Engineering has proposed establishing a solid waste transfer station at 34 Randolph Road. As described by the company, the transfer station would receive cleanup debris and construction debris by truck each day. The debris would be sorted and transported to other facilities for final disposal.

Nicastro asked about the inclusion of the Cornerstone church, which was not included in the traffic estimates.

Cornerstone Calvary Chapel has been granted approval to construct a 17,400-square-foot church and to relocate/build a new 2,400-square-foot parsonage on Lakewood-Allenwood Road, and to remove the existing church and parsonage.

“Is there going to be an update? Because that is a significant project in the area,” Nicastro said, adding that the church would generate several hundred vehicles.

Taylor said at the time of the traffic study the church had not been granted site plan approval.

Nicastro asked if the church would be included in the updated traffic study.

Taylor said he did not believe a church would have a significant impact on the Monmouth Commerce Center based on the traffic volumes associated with the warehouse project.

“I do not believe (the church) will change the relative impact of the project we are proposing,” Taylor said.

Planning Board Chairman Robert Nash said conjecture is not appropriate. He said he agreed with Nicastro’s suggestion that the applicant should include the church’s traffic study in its overall review of traffic volume in the area of the proposed warehouses.

The Planning Board carried the Monmouth Commerce Center application to the special meeting on July 29 at the municipal building.

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