EDISON – Township officials remain committed to acquiring an 11-acre South Edison property where a huge warehouse was proposed, by instead continuing to pursue a recreational concept for the tract.
And that acquisition could possibly involve condemnation.
The township’s position comes just as residents were gearing up to continue the fight against the warehouse project which had been scheduled for a Dec. 6 special Planning Board meeting but will not be heard due to an incomplete application, according to a notice on the agenda.
Recently plans for a 146,893-square-foot warehouse and distribution facility along Silver Lake and Glendale avenues in the southern section of the township were posted on the agenda, but how and why the project was back was unclear, especially after township officials had taken steps toward purchasing the property to maintain it as open space.
It’s unclear if the applicant was looking to start over or resume the 2020 warehouse application from the board’s August 2021 meeting. The updated plans seem to include 29 truck bays and some type of vinyl sound wall. The original plans called for a warehouse measuring 146,893 square feet and 14,687 square feet of office space.
For several years neighborhood residents have been fighting the warehouse project which was expected to bring more heavy truck traffic to the narrow streets in the community.
Last year shortly after taking office, Mayor Sam Joshi announced plans for the warehouse had been scrapped after the town reached an agreement to acquire the property as part of an effort to fight overdevelopment and block warehouses in residential neighborhoods.
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Although the township has assembled state grants, solicited county funds and accepted donations to buy the property as well as received voter approval to create an Open Space Trust Fund to help pay for open space purchases and improvements, township officials have declined to say much publicly about the project in recent months, even when residents posed questions.
In November the council approved a resolution directing the Planning Board to conduct a preliminary investigation to determine if the warehouse property, located at 41 Glendale Ave., qualifies as a condemnation area in need of redevelopment.
Hank Bignell, the township’s director of planning and engineering, is scheduled to conduct an analysis and report his findings to the Planning Board which will then make a recommendation to the Township Council.
The current property owner has not yet agreed to the township’s offer, which is why officials are potentially exploring the use of eminent domain, according to Philip Swibinski, township spokesman.
“Mayor Joshi took immediate action to prevent a warehouse from being developed at this site as one of his first acts after taking office, and the Township of Edison remains 100% committed to acquiring the Glendale/Silverlake property and pursuing a marina/waterfront recreational concept based on input from local residents,” Swibinski said.
“The Township Council has already approved the necessary funds to purchase the property, and Mayor Joshi is reserving the right to condemn the property and take possession of it through the eminent domain process if necessary. The bottom line is that Mayor Joshi and the Council are committed to protecting residents’ quality of life by never allowing a warehouse to be built at this site,” Swibinski said.
“In a perfect world this would be open space,” said neighborhood resident Ron Loeffler, who spearheaded the warehouse fight, adding the money is there.
Because so much time has elapsed, he said some people think the township has already purchased the property.
“They are shocked to know it’s not been done,” he said.
Email: srussell@gannettnj.com
Suzanne Russell is a breaking news reporter for MyCentralJersey.com covering crime, courts and other mayhem. To get unlimited access, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.