In the spirit of opening dialogue, Mayor James Taylor of Cranbury Township and Monroe Township Councilman Charles Dipierro met to discuss issues and concerns with potential warehousing near the border of the two municipalities.
The two-hour meeting resulted in an understanding between the officials.
“Dipierro has been great in terms of getting us the background information that we have been seeking in terms of understanding the Monroe concerns and issues,” Taylor said.
The discussion centered around 14 acres of farmland property in an area situated at Ely Drive and Halsey Reed Road.
“The 14 acres is actually spot zoning so we are not in a position to go ahead and rezone that area as residential. We would be breaking the law,” Taylor said.
Dipierro said he requested a meeting with Taylor to discuss possible steps forward after reading about the recent difficulties that Taylor has been experiencing with Monroe Township Mayor Gerald Tamburro.
The meeting between the two officials followed after a declaration from Tamburro, which stated that local roads in his municipality would not serve as access points for any new warehousing in Cranbury.
Taylor said it has been difficult to get into contact with Tamburro to discuss the matter and indicated that he is open to talking to the Monroe Township mayor.
Following the meeting with Dipierro, Taylor emailed Monroe Business Administrator Alan Weinberg about the solutions discussed in the meeting.
In response to the email, the special counsel for Monroe Township, Lou Rainone, sent Taylor an email on behalf of Tamburro that stated that Tamburro has no intention of bargaining in the back room with Taylor or a developer on the matter.
Dipierro, a Republican, is running for mayor of Monroe against the incumbent Democrat,Tamburro, in the 2019 November election.
Taylor and Dipierro concluded their meeting with a set of solutions as part of a possible plan that both officials would bring back to members on each of the respected councils and committees.
“We understand that Monroe residents do not want to see a giant big gray wall. So, we will work in our Master Plan to talk about berming, landscaping and conservation easements, which gives a little space between the residential and potential property that would go up there,” Taylor explained. “What we are talking about still has to be vetted by both the planner and legal counsel. But these are in concepts what we are taking back to the Cranbury Master Plan Subcommittee.”
A second element of the plan would be a look at circulation plans that utilize main roads and not residential roads for the warehousing. Cranbury would look at prohibiting overnight parking, which is the staging of trucks on the road so that if the warehouse is open the trucks have to come in and offload and leave, they will not be able to just sit there idling waiting for a slot to go into the warehouse, according to Taylor.
“[Next] is taking a look at the lighting plan to make sure that the residential neighbors are not adversely impacted by lighting from the development. We are looking at a collaboration between our historic preservation commission in Cranbury,” he said. “Halsey Reed Road is split 50/50 with houses on both sides of the old Halsey Reed Road, so we will work with our commission understanding that this is a historic area to see if we can preserve the Cranbury Station hamlet as its own historic district.”
Taylor said it does not impact the land where the warehousing would go but would offer security and preservation for that district.
“When you are bordering towns, you want to be good neighbors. We do not want to do this through lawsuits and judges. This is for the quality of life for residents,” Dipierro said. “This is not a political strategic strategy for me. I am not asking someone to do something political for me. This is for the residents of Cranbury and Monroe so we do not waste taxpayer dollars on attorneys.”
Dipierro said he would bring the ideas discussed back to members on the Monroe Township Council.
He said his meeting with Taylor was not political, but an opening to ease the issues with potential building on the farmland properties.
“I took it upon myself as an elected official to get in contact with Mr. Taylor. This is not for political benefit,” Dipierro said. “Why would we want to take a chance at forcing the hand of Cranbury? That is why we want to plan now and get a good plan for the future. If we do not plan now, this possible warehousing situation could turn into a nightmare.”