When the Bernards Township Zoning Board of Adjustment convenes its special meeting Thursday, Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m., it will pick up the proposed 150 Allen Road development hearing where it left off on Jan. 3. The proposal concerns an application made by Signature Acquisition, LLC, of Cranford, whose traffic expert is scheduled to field questions from lawyers of opponents and members of the public. Likely at a future hearing, Signature’s final witness, their planner, will testify and field questions from opposition attorneys and the public.
Signature’s application seeks two oversized buildings to be repurposed for light manufacturing. Its proposal includes 24 loading docks designed for tractor trailer use, such as shipping and receiving. The multiple variances Signature has requested would involve buildings designed well beyond the allowable footprint, excessive building and retaining wall heights, and inadequate tree replacement.
In addition to the heavy truck traffic, this project would generate (an estimated increase of 25% between Allen Road and Rt. 287 on Mt. Airy Road), opponents are concerned about Signature’s ownership of additional acreage contiguous to 150 Allen Road. Development of those parcels, however, is not under consideration at this time. For more background on 150 Allen Road, refer to the following article, written by BTDC district rep, Bill Knox: https://btdems.org/eyes-wide-open-150-allen-road/.
There are several groups organized to defeat the 150 Allen Road project. They include Protect Somerset Hills (PSH) with a private Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1001066147517645/ as well as a public Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/protectsomersethills. Fellowship Village – both the corporation and the residents – is also organized against Signature’s application.
Protect Somerset Hills (PSH), an affiliate of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition, seeks donations at https://protectsomersethills.org to sponsor legal costs of some of the objectors. In addition to Facebook, PSH also uses WhatsApp, WeChat and Instagram to raise awareness and urge opponents to attend the Zoning Board meeting(s). Showing up in person, even without speaking, can influence a board’s decision, they say.
Following Zoning Board protocol, individuals for or against this project may finally offer opinions at the end of all the testimony, cross-examination, and public questions.
By MJ Walsh