The bumpy terrain of the North Jersey Highlands again baffles development plans for approximately 35 densely forested acres near the Interstate 287 interchange in Wanaque.
On Thursday, members of the Passaic County Planning Board refused to approve a planned 272,000 square foot warehouse rising 48 feet between the backyards of Greenwood Avenue and the Passaic County Community College campus.
The proposed rock cuts and retaining walls needed to deal with the lumpy terrain need to be better defined before approval can be granted, said Planning Board chairman Joseph Metzler.
Long targeted for potential development, the site across from Susquehanna Avenue is approved for warehouse use, according to city records. However, the property’s steep slopes were a hindrance. In 2020, Robert Benecke, the town planner, said he would expect the majority of the property to be undevelopable due to the terrain.
The site plan nevertheless proposes watertight coverage over just over half of the site, bringing the total from approximately 24,000 square feet to 742,000 square feet. The plan still requires approval from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, said Arthur Kuyan, the plaintiff’s civil engineer.
No end user has been identified for the warehouse, leaving county officials uncertain about potential traffic and operational implications.
Michael Lysicatos, the county’s planning director, said the county will likely need a range of potential trip numbers and warehouse operating hours before considering final approval. The spectrum of such warehouses is wide, he said, and can range from local 24-hour distribution centers to off-hours depots for longer-term storage.
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As proposed, the warehouse would include 82 loading docks, 144 parking spaces and 34 trailer spaces. Stormwater management facilities and a bioretention area that doubles as a park to manage runoff are also proposed. The site redevelopment plan calls for 50-foot wooded buffers to protect neighboring homes. While officials at commercial real estate firm JLL have seen an increase in demand for North Jersey warehouses under 100,000 square feet since 2019, they say the need for industrial space shows no signs of slowing as e-commerce is cementing itself in society.
Before returning to the Passaic County Planning Board, the Bloomingdale-based applicant, Wanaque Depo Urban Renewal, is scheduled to visit the Wanaque Planning Board on March 17 for possible final site plan approval at the municipal level. That evening, the council is also expected to advance a request for a Taco Bell at an adjacent property. This property, 164 Greenwood Avenue, was once owned by the city’s mayor, Daniel Mahler. It sold for $475,000 in 2020.
David Zimmer is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.