By Anne Levin
Last week, the West Windsor Township Planning Board approved the first phase of a 5.5 million-square-foot development along U.S. Route 1, Clarksville Road, and Quakerbridge Road. The vote in favor of the sprawling project was not unexpected.
“We weren’t surprised by the outcome,” said resident Tirza Wahrman, among the residents who registered concerns about traffic, stormwater management, and other issues during public comment at the Planning Board’s June 1 meeting.
The Planning Board voted 6-2 in favor of the initial phase, which includes three warehouses totaling 3 million square feet with a combined 461 loading docks and 507 trailer parking spaces. The second phase, which proposes four warehouses, has not yet come up for approval.
The applicant, Bridge Point WW LLC, also lists 150,000 square feet of retail space, 192,000 square feet of office space, a multi-pump gas station, and two hotels as part of the project.
There are 45 days to appeal the decision once the final conditions are registered. “There are a lot of very, very unhappy residents, so it is very possible that a group will file an appeal,” Wahrman said Tuesday.
Construction of warehouses cannot begin until the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) approves a connection between a new road on the property and Route 1. Additional permits are needed from the Department of Environmental Protection for wetlands disturbance and flood hazard area control.
At the June 27 meeting of Princeton Council, Mayor Mark Freda said he and Councilwoman Mia Sacks were keeping an eye on the project and urged Princeton residents to be aware of its potential impacts. In an email on Tuesday, Sacks said, “We anticipate that a final resolution will soon be adopted by the West Windsor Planning Board with a significant number of conditions. Princeton will be focused on the conditions related to traffic congestion, stormwater, and potential impact to drinking water.”
Wahrman said those opposed to the project welcome the input of neighboring towns. “We would love to see other mayors in Mercer County press the county about this. The bottom line is that this is a regional project,” she said. “The West Windsor Planning Board should not be deciding on a complex that will be sending out truck traffic all over the county and the region.”
The approval included 82 conditions addressing such issues as traffic, stormwater management, landscaping and conservation, circulation and parking, and more. Some of those conditions involved lessening truck traffic on Clarksville Road, which will be straddled by the site.
Planning Board members Allen Schectel and Simon Pankove were the only two members to vote against the proposal. Schectel said the increase in truck traffic on Clarksville Road would be dangerous for local schools and the neighborhood.
“West Windsor is a family-friendly town that has always prided itself on its excellent schools and the children who attend them,” he said. “The proposed project represents a threat to the safety of the schoolchildren from Maurice Hawk Elementary School and West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South.”
Members of the public were permitted to comment during the last 15 minutes of the meeting, following the vote. Several people berated the planners for approving the development, but thanked Schectel and Pankove for their support. The meeting, which ran over four hours, can be viewed on YouTube.