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In a victory for neighbors who were opposed to the project, a proposal to construct a total of 940,400 sq feet of warehouse and office space near the Lakewood Township border is officially cancelled, as the property is now under contract to be sold.

The 100 acres site, which has been unoccupied for approximately 40-45 years, sits at the intersection of Randolph Road and Oak Glen Road, just north of Lakewood's Brookhill neighborhood.

The Monmouth Commerce Center project was submitted by Lawrence Katz and Felix Pflaster. The project was to consist of four 1-story warehouse buildings with office space.

Trucks and deliveries to the location were to operate on a 24/7-day schedule, a point of major contention for the neighbors.

Along with extending utilities and construction of extensive drainage systems to make the project palatable to Township Planners, the developers proposed improvements at the Randolph Road and Lakewood Farmingdale Road intersection including the installation of a traffic signal, full width mill and overlay, stormwater inlets along the subject side of Randolph Road and Oak Glen Road, roadway striping within Randolph Road and Oak Glen Road and a right-of way dedication to Howell Township for purposes of future road widening along the entire Randolph Road frontage and at the intersection of Oak Glen Road and Lakewood Allenwood Road.

Many neighbors opposed the application at several public hearings held on the matter.

The application - which was scheduled for a public hearing to be held tonight - has now been withdrawn, as the site is under contract to be sold to Mid-Atlantic Offshore Development, public records indicate.

An earlier version of this project which was for construction of 9 buildings was previously denied by the Planning Board.

In October 2018, the developers submitted its land use application for approval of a commercial center with 9 buildings, 706 parking spaces, 142 trailer parking spaces, and 234 loading spaces with 5 accessways from the road. The property is within the Special Economic Development (SED) Zoning District, which permits warehousing. However, a mixture of residential and industrial uses
surrounds the property. Thus, they requested variance relief and design waiver relief from municipal ordinances to accommodate the area and property development.

After holding ten public hearings regarding the application from May 2019 to January 2020, which were well attended by neighbors opposed to the project, the Board denied the site plan application, finding that the developers failed to satisfy its burden for each of the design waivers.

The developers appealed to Superior Court Judge Owen C. McCarthy who upheld the Board's denial. The developers then appealed to the Appellate Division which affirmed the Board's denial.

One design waiver was for a sidewalk. Township ordinance requires that "all lots shall have private walkway access to a public sidewalk in the right-of-way." The Board heard testimony from Elizabeth McManus, the applicant's expert, who argued that "because we have a lack of pedestrian destinations in this area and a lack of pedestrian destinations on this particular site. We also have a lack of connecting sidewalks in the area. In addition, by not providing the sidewalks, we're able to reduce impervious cover and we're able to reduce tree clearances along the property lines, and so for all of those reasons I think that the waiver or the exception to not provide a sidewalk is appropriate."
The Board concluded that this testimony did not even touch upon "how compliance would result in impracticability or hardship based upon the peculiar characteristics of the land," and "that the lack of sidewalks in the area is also not a persuasive argument."

The Appellate Division concluded that the Board's decisions to deny the design waivers were not arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable because - based on the record - "the developer failed to show why compliance was impracticable or resulted in a hardship."

Following this loss, the developers submitted a reduced plan for 5 buildings. They subsequently again reduced their plan to 4 buildings.

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