Even before online shopping spiked because of the pandemic, a growing number of warehouses were being constructed in towns all over New Jersey.

The trend has prompted loud complaints about noise and traffic from some local residents, and now for the very first time, the state has issued guidance about citing these facilities.

The New Jersey Office of Planning Advocacy report, on behalf of the state Planning Commission, encourages municipalities to consider what type of warehouse is being proposed, traffic and road safety, environmental issues and several other factors.

Tim Evans, the director of research at New Jersey Future said this guidance, first and foremost, is about “educating people about what warehouses are, and the different kinds of facilities, because they don’t all have the same land use needs.”

Big trucks can cause big problems

He noted if a large warehouse is being proposed, local leaders are being advised: “Don’t put these things where the trucks are going to have to travel through neighborhoods or past land uses that are generating a lot of pedestrians.”

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

He said one section of the report warns “don’t put a warehouse in a neighborhood that’s already got more than its fair share of polluting land uses because it’s going to attract trucks and trucks emit pollutants and it’s just going to make things worse.”

Evans said the report also contains “siting guidance around traffic and road safety, sustainable design, green roofs and controlling stormwater runoff, best practices in mitigation, community involvement.”

He pointed out that ultimately the municipalities, not the state, will make decisions about land use and zoning, so having the right information is important.

Understand the pros and cons

He said in many cases, “local leaders don’t really know how to respond to a proposal to put a warehouse in their town because they don’t know all of these pros and cons.”

“This document will really help educate people, it’ll get them thinking about the issues they need to be thinking about,” he said.

Evans said depending on the size of a proposed warehouse there will be different transportation and environmental rules and regulations that need to be considered and understood so “the whole document is designed to educate local leaders so they can zone better.”

He pointed out really big warehouses, which are typically constructed close to New Jersey port locations or along major highways, serve as distribution centers for smaller warehouses across the state and the entire northeast.

He noted the guidance report points out counties can convene technical advisory committees so town leaders from a particular region can come together and get up to speed on different issues and considerations.

He said even though the economy may be slowing down the warehouse boom is expected to continue to grow.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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