Last Week developers proposing to build four warehouses at the former Freeway Golf Course presented before the Gloucester Township Zoning Board. As 11pm approached it was decided to continue the presentation/meeting until an October Zoning meeting date.
There are multiple variances requested to develop the 1.5 million sq ft of warehouses, including the approval to build on a property designated for residential development as well as building to a height up to 50 feet.
The full 4 hour long meeting on September 28th was attended by over 150-200 members of the public who for most of the night filled every available seat, as well as all of the standing room around the perimeter.
I knew things would be interesting that night as when I arrived about 5 minutes before meeting time, there were dozens of people still waiting to enter the Gloucester Township Municipal Building!
There has also been a lot of community commentary on Facebook about this project.
Volunteers rallied in social media groups, created a targeted Facebook group, and spent many hours printing and handing out flyers directly to area residents’ homes!
The attendees included residents, Union workers in neon shirts, and even area Girl Scouts who utilize a camp directly adjacent to the warehouse property at Lake Mathilde.
A few highlights of the meeting so far included the mention that up to 1500 tractor trailer trips a day could be expected at the fully developed warehouse site.
Additionally it was stated they do not have signed tenants, so final plans are expected to change when/if leases are signed. More on these points later.
The reason for the late meeting was there were 5 projects on the agenda due to unavoidable prior meeting cancellations, which stacked multiple meeting schedules into one.
This meant the warehouse developers did not start until 9pm. They still had one more expert to present as 11pm approached, as well as the public needed time to speak and ask questions. The Board chose to continue the warehouse presentation segment with the next meeting.
The crowd was also interested in the HoneyGrove dispensary presentation, but it was clear the larger portion of the attendees were there for the warehouse proposal. (HoneyGrove did not pass 42Freeway )
A Gloucester Township resident recorded the Warehouse meeting and has it available online. The audio is quite good, so if you want to catch up on all aspects of the Warehouse meeting please give the two clips a view;
- GT Zoning Board mtg Freeway Warehouse (Part 1 of 2) 9/28/22
- GT Zoning Board mtg Freeway Warehouse (Part 2 of 2) 9/28/22
Warehouses at Freeway Golf – Sicklerville Rd
42Freeway brought to readers the story on the Warehouse development plan back in August.
The quick background is, the Freeway Golf course property is located on Sicklerville Rd in Gloucester Township.
The entrance to the golf course is 1.6 miles from the Sicklerville Rd exit of 42 and 2.2 miles to the Cross Keys Rd exit.
As I covered in the August story, the course goes back to 1967 when four black businessmen heard that a former course was up for auction.
They acquired the course and reopened it, making it the first Black-owned 18 hole golf course in America.
Freeway golf had an awesome successful history for over 50 years, but unfortunately they closed in 2016.
A year later the property was sold to a Blackwood NJ based developer, AP Construction.
An unofficial Freeway Golf website is running at FreewayGolf1967.com
Freeway Golf Warehouse Project Summary
The developer presentation included several experts to describe the project as well as impacts on the surrounding community.
Experts included; General Overview, Traffic, Sound, and Planner
One thing they stated is they do not have tenants signed on right now.
The catch-22 is that without approval to build warehouses on a residential zoned property, it’s probably tough to get leases signed.
So they are presenting “speculative” plans to get the approval from the zoning board to build warehouses, and then if approved… with each subsequent warehouse to be developed they will get specific site plan approvals.
I assume to cover all possible development possibilities, they presented a plan that seemed to maximize the available acreage of the property.
The presented plan features 4 warehouse buildings ranging in sizes from 300,000 to 500,000 sq feet.
The buildings were described as “attractive”… as warehouse buildings go.
There would be one entrance into the large property, from Sicklerville Road.
155: Total acreage of the property is 155 acres.
1.5 Million: The total size of all warehouses would be 1.5 mill square feet.
297: The total truck bay number was stated as 297
1,330: Based on the size of facilities, they can then derive parking requirements… which would be 1,330 parking spaces.
297: Zoning Board solicitor Costa questioned the 1,330 parking spaces, asking if that covered tractor trailers. The response was that there would be an additional 297 tractor trailer parking spots.
Freeway Golf Warehouses – Traffic concerns
1500: The number that seemed to get the largest “Wow” response from everyone was 1500, which is the number of tractor trailer trips per day, in and out of the facility.
There were several points where the large crowd reacted to the information provided, and this one really got the attention of the audience and the Board.
The Traffic Planner’s presentation had actually completed and he had not mentioned the 1500 trips in the core presentation.
The meeting was then turned over to the board to ask questions, and it was board solicitor Costa’s questioning that had the traffic planner then offer up the 1500 trips number.
1500 Tractor Trailer Trips in a 24 hour Period
The “1500 trips per 24 hour period” was further clarified to be 750 tractor trailers, entering and leaving. “Trips”
It’s still a big number! 1500 trips on Sicklerville Road, which will be the only entrance in and out of the property.
Facebook commenters at town groups quickly “did the math” that there are 1440 minutes in a day.
So 1500 new truck trips in a day means that there would be a truck entering or leaving the property slightly more than one every minute. A powerful stat.
Not to mention the additional car traffic from employees.
So still sticking with facts, but also adding the “Mark from 42Freeway insight”, the number logically apears to be much more impactful than one truck per minute.
The 1500 is a 24 hour total count.
But think about this… How may tractor trailers do you think are entering or leaving the building at 1am? 3am? I have to believe that number of overnight trucks is low. While that is not factual, it has to be a logical assumption.
The traffic expert also said that trucks would not be driving in and out during peek morning and evening hours.
So if trucks aren’t really moving overnight, and also not during peak hours… how many hours in the day are left for 1500 truck movements?
So wouldn’t the rate of trucks per minute in daylight hours then be significantly higher than one per minute?
You also need to consider that prior to this the traffic expert states: it’s my opinion that we can provide for that safe and efficient access for traffic entering and exiting this site and that the off-site impacts will be minimal.
They also said that of 4 tested intersections, only one would see a drop in service which was portrayed as minimal.
Costa then summed up what everyone was thinking:
I think everyone’s concern here is traffic on Sicklerville Road. It would just seem to a lay person that 1500 tractor trailers running up and down Sicklerville Road gotta have have some effectZoning Board Solicitor Costa, directed to the Sicklerville Warehouse Traffic Expert
And again to clarify… which I feel is semantics.. but its’s 1500 trips representing 750 trucks.
By the way I had never met Costa before the meeting or even knew his name. I had to walk over afterwards to look at the name tag.
But again I try to be fair across the board I feel it’s important to mention this, as absolutely many residents in all towns don’t think their officials are acting in their best interest., Well consider this:
After the traffic planner commentary was completed, the questioning uncovered:
- the number of truck parking spots.
- the 1500 trips per day (750 trucks)
- Directly calls out “1500 tractor trailers have to have some impact on Sicklerville Rd”
- Also calls out that trucks traveling and turning on roads move slower than cars… and is that accounted for if the timing estimates?
I spoke to Mr Costa very briefly after the meeting (as I was looking at has desk nameplate) and he said “We really are just trying to do what’s best for the town and residents” (paraphrased)
Sound Expert and Barriers
The last presentation of the night was a sound expert who spoke at length regarding the audio impacts from the warehouse projexts. Primary concern being truck and worker noise impacting the surrounding residential areas and High School.
The expert gave a very detailed explanation of existing conditions, as well as what soumd conditions would be expected after the buildings were developed.
I’m a smart guy but I think this got a little too much “into the weeds” for most of us and I know I at least missed some of the core facts.
Two key takeaways from the expert. Well please check out the video recordings at bottom of the article. It was a long 2 hours and I can only summarize key aspects!
The warehouses really shouldn’t have a large audio impact, according to the expert.
A final outcome of the sound analysis was the addition of a 16 foot sound barrier wall around a portion of the project, which is described as the Eastern portion of the property from Sicklerville Road, and around the first bend of the property site.
The placement may not be 100% correct as it is not noted on the plans that I have so I am interpreting the verbal explanation of the sound engineer.
Links and Locations
GT Zoning Board mtg Freeway Warehouse (Part 1 of 2) 9/28/22
GT Zoning Board mtg Freeway Warehouse (Part 2 of 2) 9/28/22
Restore GT Podcast
This resident podcast has a segment on the meeting and warehouse project.
It seems that the Zoning Board has meetings on the calendar every 2 weeks?
I believe it will be October 26th.
Initially at the end of last Wednesday’s meeting it was stated twice as October 12th, but then before ending the meeting it was stated as October 26th.