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STOP WAREHOUSES AND TRUCKS!

S.W.A.T. (Stop Warehouses and Trucks) is a group of concerned citizens. We originally organized in opposition to a 2-warehouse project on Homestead Road between the 206 By-Pass and Willow Road. Since that time, we have become aware of a total of 6 warehouse proposals for Hillsborough, totaling over one million square feet of warehouse space. All of these projects are now or have been under consideration by the Hillsborough Planning Board.

WHY WAREHOUSES? WHY NOW? WHY IN HILLSBOROUGH?

The COVID pandemic accelerated a trend toward on-line shopping. On-line marketers need warehouse space to store, organize and ship out the items we all order every day. New Jersey is uniquely situated with its docks, railways and highways, and its strategic location with respect to major population centers.

 

Hillsborough on the other hand is uniquely situated as an inappropriate location for warehouses. We are not close to major highways. Route 206, our only major north- south road cannot handle the additional traffic from one large warehouse, much less seven warehouses.

WHY DOES S.W.A.T. OBJECT TO WAREHOUSES ON HOMESTEAD ROAD?

Property owners and developers are entitled to benefit from the investment in their property. But, when their plans can have a detrimental effect on the community (traffic, flooding, pollution, contamination), they should not expect the community to embrace their project. The two warehouses proposed for Homestead Road between the 206 By-Pass and Willow Road are in the Transitional Economic Development District.

This zone was intended to be a transition between the light industry to the west and the residential areas to the north and east. These gigantic warehouses are anything but transitional, being some of the largest buildings in town. The only access is via the intersections with 206 and Willow Road. There is no direct access to the By-Pass. These warehouses are being built “on spec”. We have no idea who the tenants will be or what kind of business they will be, what the hours of operation will be, whether they will house hazardous substances, etc.

WAREHOUSE PROJECTS WILL BRING:

TRAFFIC – The developers have presented totally unrealistic traffic studies to the Planning Board. No one in the township is looking at the big picture and considering the traffic from all of these projects. There are no plans to restrict truck routes, numbers of trucks, or hours of operation. New NJ state guidelines suggest towns take a regional approach and coordinate with surrounding communities. Hillsborough has not done that.

WATER RUNOFF, FLOODING, SOIL AND WATER CONTAMINATION – planned warehouses will add over 1 million sq ft of impervious surface that will increase water runoff in already flood- prone areas.

NOISE – The developers are not required to say who the tenants will be in these warehouses. Any or all could be 24/7 operations.

LIGHT POLLUTION – Whether the warehouses are operational 24 hours a day or not, they will be lighted nightly.

AIR POLLUTION – State guidelines suggest towns require a transition to zero emission trucks, forklifts, etc. Hillsborough has no requirements and no plans. We could be looking at thousands of diesel trucks traveling through town every day.

LOSS OF PROPERTY VALUE – Homeowners will suffer a decrease in their property values. Hillsborough will lose tax income from devalued properties.

ATTEND TOWNSHIP MEETINGS

Only the Township Committee can change zoning regulations. Warehouse proposals must go before the Environmental Commission. Final township approval of warehouse proposals must come from the Planning Board. The Planning Board meets the first and second Thursday of each month. See the S.W.A.T. or township websites for meeting agendas and warehouse proposal documents.

WHAT CAN HILLSBOROUGH DO TO STOP THESE WAREHOUSE PROJECTS?

Like communities throughout the country, Hillsborough did not update its zoning ordinances to keep up with trends in commercial real estate development. Most of the proposals before the Planning Board are situated in zones that permit “warehouses”.

The problem is that what “warehouse” meant in 2011 is not what “warehouse” means today. Ten years ago, no one thought they were zoning for 500,000 sq ft warehouses with 90 loading docks and 137 truck parking spaces. Hillsborough should review its master plan, and it should review its zoning ordinances, but zoning changes will not affect projects currently under consideration.

WHAT CAN BE DONE AT THE STATE LEVEL?

New Jersey recognizes that warehouses have become an issue for communities throughout the state. The state issued “guidelines” with suggestions for how municipalities can deal with warehouse proposals. The guidelines suggest a regional approach. They recommend that every community review its master plan and zoning ordinances.

Although the state makes some great recommendations, they are just that, recommendations, and have no legal authority. Hillsborough is just beginning to take these guidelines into consideration.

New Jersey is revising stormwater regulations. Current regulations are based on outdated weather data. These regulations need to be finalized as soon as possible.

HILLSBOROUGH’S FUTURE: WHAT DO YOU WANT?

The future of Hillsborough is in our hands. Do we want open space, clean air, less auto and truck traffic, and walkable, bike-able roads, or do we want to be a center of commerce for on-line business? Ratables can be a good thing, but we don’t need ratables at any cost. Your voice is important. If you think seven new warehouses is a bad idea, now is the time to take action.

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