MANALAPAN – Residents of two adult communities in Manalapan are concerned about a developer’s plan to build a pair of warehouses on Route 33 near Pegasus Boulevard.
Pegasus Boulevard is an entrance and exit to the Four Seasons at Manalapan adult community.
Residents of Four Seasons at Manalapan and a second adult community, the Village Grande at Battleground, spoke during a Planning Board meeting on Aug. 22 as representatives of developer Terry Sherman continued to present plans for the Manalapan Logistics Center.
According to previous testimony, the Manalapan Logistics Center is proposed for an 86-acre parcel at 203 Route 33, Manalapan. The property is on the eastbound side of the state highway, approximately across from Four Seasons. The rear of the tract is separated by a natural buffer from a residential street, Gramercy Lane.
The Route 33 property is in Manalapan’s Special Economic Development zone and warehouses are a permitted use. The applicant, Countryside Developers Inc., is seeking preliminary and final major site plan approval to remove existing structures on the site and to construct two warehouse distribution buildings. There would be two driveways on Route 33 to serve the location.
One warehouse (Building A) would total 313,875 square feet and include 13,000 square feet of office space.
A second warehouse (Building B) would total 302,250 square feet and include 15,000 square feet of office space.
The application proposes employee parking, 108 loading spaces for tractor-trailers and other site improvements.
Testimony was presented on July 11 and resumed on Aug. 22.
A key aspect of the application that remains under discussion is how trucks leaving the warehouse site will have to travel east on Route 33 and make a U-turn to access Route 33 west to head toward the New Jersey Turnpike in Hightstown.
At present there are two options where trucks could make the U-turn: a jughandle at Sweetmans Lane and an overpass just east of Sweetmans Lane that will allow trucks to go over the Route 33 bypass and access westbound Business Route 33, which rejoins the state highway a short distance from where the trucks would turn left onto Business Route 33.
The Village Grande is near the end of the overpass where the trucks would access Business Route 33 and pass the entrance to the adult community as they head back to the Route 33 highway.
During testimony, traffic engineer John Rea estimated that 75% of the trucks leaving the warehouses would head east and need to make a U-turn to reach Route 33 west. He said the developer would improve the intersection of the Route 33 overpass and Business Route 33 in a manner that would accommodate large tractor-trailers.
Rea said the plan has been endorsed by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT).
“The idea is to keep the trucks from making a U-turn at the Sweetmans Lane jughandle. The intersection at the overpass and Business Route 33 would be able to handle the trucks from the (Manalapan Logistics Center),” he said.
Rea said the developer would work with the DOT to place signs on Route 33 prohibiting eastbound trucks weighing more than 4 tons from using the jughandle at Sweetmans Lane and directing drivers to use the Route 33 overpass and Business Route 33 to head west.
Deputy Mayor Jack McNaboe, who sits on the Planning Board, expressed concern about sending what he called a significant number of trucks eastbound so they could make a U-turn to head west.
“I’m trying to figure out a way to make this work,” he said.
Rea said it is a fact of life in New Jersey that at many locations, motorists are sent in the opposite direction of where they want to go in order to make a U-turn. He said in some instances a motorist may be sent as much as a mile out of his way to make a U-turn.
In response to a question from a resident who asked if the developer could install a traffic light on Route 33 at the warehouse location and negate the need for trucks to travel east to eventually head west, Rea said, “The volume of traffic at the warehouse site will not warrant a light there. We do not generate enough traffic. The DOT will not approve a signal at the warehouses, or a median cut, or a waiver from being too close to the light at Pegasus Boulevard, not a chance in the world, zero.”
Several residents of Four Seasons expressed concern that trucks coming to the Manalapan Logistics Center from the east would line up in the Pegasus Boulevard jughandle, making it more difficult for them to access their development.
Some residents suggested that constructing warehouses on Route 33 near Pegasus Boulevard could have an impact on home values in their adult community.
The applicant’s representatives reiterated that what is proposed (two warehouses) is permitted under Manalapan’s zoning for the Route 33 corridor.
Attorney Salvatore Alfieri, who represents the applicant, said no variances are being requested in the Manalapan Logistics Center application.
Following the residents of Four Seasons to the microphone were residents of the Village Grande, who expressed concern that a significant number of trucks would pass Yates Road – the access to their neighborhood – if the drivers do as instructed and use Business Route 33 to get back to Route 33 west.
Engineer Julia G. Algeo testified and reviewed items including proposed parking areas, landscaping and additional buffering in an area of the warehouse property near the homes on Gramercy Lane.
Algeo said the applicant would address concerns expressed by the Fire Bureau, the Manalapan Environmental Commission and the Shade Tree Committee and comply with requirements set forth by those agencies.
Regarding a proposed parking area on the property for tractor-trailers, McNaboe said he would like to see a time limit established for that area.
“This is not a parking yard,” he said, adding, “You are trying to put a lot of building in the usable space” on the property.
“We hear your concerns,” Alfieri responded.
The applicant’s representatives said no tenants have been identified for the warehouses.
Rea expanded on that and said, “The number of parking spaces (about 330) will serve as a control on which tenants take space. If they don’t like the parking, they won’t take space.”
Architect Richard Pratt briefly described some of the architectural details of the proposed buildings, but the board’s planner, Jennifer Beahm, took issue with the color palette Pratt presented for the warehouses, among other elements of the design.
Alfieri said updated and complete plans would be resubmitted to the board.
No decision was made by the board on Aug. 22 and the Manalapan Logistics Center application was carried to the Oct. 24 meeting in the municipal building.