The developer proposing a 234,000 square foot warehouse at 1000 Williamstown-Erial Road in Gloucester Township (behind Target) has published a legal notice stating that “the application is claimed automatically approved“.
To be clear, Gloucester Township did not grant this approval. The developer has made this claim on their own, based on their interpretation of New Jersey state laws.
The notice goes on to state the reason for this is that the Gloucester Township Planning Board did not act on the application in the statutory (required) time period, after submission of the developer’s complete application.
The developer’s legal notice cites N.J.S.A 40:55D-46(c) as what defines the criteria for timely review.
This legal notice was published in Sunday’s Courier-Post Newspaper (2/26/2023).
The developer seems to be following the full New Jersey legal notice process for proposed developments, as several resident homes were also mailed a copy of the notice.
A key question regarding this may action may be “What constitutes the date of a completed application, and how does New Jersey State law apply to that date?”
Keep reading for some facts and research around this project and developer action:
- Project Overview and Redevelopment Zone (quick summary)
- The full text of the developer’s legal notice
- The text of the referenced NJ State Statute
- Key Application Dates. And raises the question “What defines a completed application?”
Some members of local Gloucester Township based Facebook groups are stating they will be at the Gloucester Township Council Meeting on Feb 27, 2023 to ask about this.
Williamstown-Erial Road Warehouse & Redevelopment Zones
A quick background on the project and the Redevelopment Zone/Project designation, which is important to the story and timeline as this article moves forward.
42Freeway.com first brought details on this project back in June, 2022.
While the local LLC company is listed as “1000 Williamstown NJ LLC” it is actually a project of Lakewood NJ based Modani Properties.
They currently list this Gloucester Township warehouse project on the Modani website.
The short summary is, on a 16 acre parcel along Williamstown-Erial Road (directly behind the Target store), Modani is looking to develop a 234,000 single-building warehouse. Additional details can be found in my January 13, 2023 post as well as my June 2022 article
This property is located in a designated Gloucester Township Redevelopment Zone.
Redevelopment Zone designations allow towns to implement zoning rules specific to the defined region. It allows Towns to create special zoning rules to spur development, with the intent to replace or repair previously developed buildings or plots of land that are in substandard condition, or are no longer useful in their current state.
Gloucester Township has a Redevelopment Entity which sets the special zoning rules, and has some power of approval… seemingly they need to review and approve projects within the zones, not the Planning Board.
It is my understanding that in Gloucester Township, the Council members make up the Redevelopment Entity.
In June of 2022, the developer Modani presented the project to the Gloucester Township Redevelopment Entity, in a public meeting.
The June 2022 meeting was not an approval process.
The June meeting’s purpose was solely to approve the developer as official Redeveloper for the property. This is a process required by New Jersey State law.
Cancelled January Planning Board Hearing
The Gloucester Township Planning Board agenda for January 24th, 2023 initially listed the warehouse project on the agenda for that meeting.
This was meant to be the official hearing where the developer was looking for “preliminary and final major site plan approval”
Soon after the agenda was published, the “1000 Williamstown NJ LLC” project was removed from the agenda, and a notice explaining the removal was published by Gloucester Township Planning Board.
TAKE NOTICE, that the application 1000 Williamstown NJ LLC has been removed fromNotice stating the warehouse project was removed from January 2023 agenda. Published by Gloucester Township NJ Planning Board
the Planning Board Agenda and needs to be re-evaluated by the Redevelopment Entity.
So that gets us back to my explanation of Redevelopment Zones, and Gloucester Township’s Redevelopment Entity.
It was determined that since the project is in a Gloucester Township Redevelopment Zone and the developer was granted “Redeveloper” status… the project should be re-evaluated by the Redevelopment Entity.
As of today (February 26, 2023) there are no legal notices announcing a Redevelopment Entity meeting scheduled to review this warehouse project.
As one example of how these meetings were scheduled in the past, in the June 2022 Redevelopment Entity meeting it was scheduled to take place immediately before the regularly scheduled Council meeting. That meeting was publicized with a specific Legal Notice for the Redevelopment Entity.
Gloucester Township’s next Council Meeting is set for tomorrow (Monday February 27th, 2023) and I do not see a Redevelopment meeting scheduled.
Developer’s Legal Notice and Referenced State Statute
With the January Planning Board meeting cancelled and no meeting scheduled with the Redevelopment Entity, the developer has moved to declare their project is approved… based on New Jersey State law.
The legal notice was published in Today’s Courier-Post (Feb 26, 2023). Below is the full text.
LEGAL NOTICE TOWNSHIP OF GLOUCESTER PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that the undersigned claims approval of an application to construct an approximately 234,000 s.f. warehouse building with related site improvements on property located at 1000 Williamstown Erial Road and identified as Lot 1 in Block 18302 on the Gloucester Township Tax Map. The application is claimed automatically approved by reason of the failure of the Gloucester Township Planning Board to act on the application for preliminary and final major site plan approval within the statutory time period after submission of its complete application as set forth in N.J.S.A. 40:55D-46(c). 1000 Williamstown NJ LLC 585 Prospect Street Suite 301B Lakewood, NJ 08701 ($23.76)Legal notice published by 1000 Williamstown NJ LLC, regarding a proposed Warehouse development in Gloucester Township
The notice clearly states the developer considers their application approved.
What is not known by me at this time is… will the developer proceed as if the project is approved, is this a “wake-up” call to Gloucester Township to get moving on the project hearing and approval, or does it set the stage for other actions by the developer?
N.J.S.A. 40:55D-46(c) Procedure for preliminary site plan approval
The referenced New Jersey State Statute and subsection is N.J.S.A. 40:55D-46(c).
This specific section of the law defines timelines for Planning Boards, in how long they have to formally grant or deny a competed application.
It would seem this law was written to keep towns from delaying hearings of a proposed project. Sort of a “right to a speedy trial” consideration for development.
There are many references to this statute online, and many proposed legislative changes that may not be approved yet, so I tracked down what is published at the New Jersey State Division of Codes and Standards. (PDF)
The specific text referenced by the developer is:
c. Upon the submission to the administrative officer of a completed application for a site plan which involves 10 acres of land or less, and 10 dwelling units or less, the planning board shall grant or deny preliminary approval within 45 days of the date of such submission or within such further time as may be consented to by the developer. Upon the submission of a completed application for a site plan which involves more than 10 acres, or more than 10 dwelling units, the planning board shall grant or deny preliminary approval within 95 days of the date of such submission or within such further time as may be consented to by the developer. Otherwise, the planning board shall be deemed to have granted preliminary approval of the site plan.N.J.S.A. 40:55D-46(c) Procedure for preliminary site plan approval
That statute categorizes projects in 2 segments for commercial projects;
- 10 Acres or less, the planning board has 45 days to grant or deny preliminary approval
- More than 10 acres, the planning board has 95 days to grant or deny preliminary approval
The short but powerful law closes the paragraph by stating: Otherwise, the planning board shall be deemed to have granted preliminary approval of the site plan!
In the case of the Modani 1000 Williamstown NJ LLC project, it is a 16 acre property so it would seem that 95 days is the required timeline for planning board action.
I’ll add in here that I don’t know if there is a difference in State law definitions between Planning Boards and Redevelopment Entities.
1000 Williamstown NJ LLC – Application Dates
So this will likely introduce the question of “what defines a completed application?”, so that the 95 day window can be determined.
Gloucester Township Planning Board administration does a great job preparing all of the documents related to a project into one PDF, and making them publicly available. If there are revisions, they also continue to make available agenda and document changes.
So we can see that the date on the Gloucester Township Land Development Application is July 11, 2022.
But submitting a form with a date does not automatically constitute a completed application. There are numerous other documents and reviews which must be provided by the developer before the application is deemed “complete”… that way the Planning Board is reviewing for approval with a complete set of information.
Also keep in mind that for almost every project, the Planning Board meeting is not the first time the town is seeing the project.
Each town hires professional planners who represent the town, and work with developers on projects.
This is so the project is understood by the town and what is finally presented is a clearly defined plan meeting town ordinances or specific set of requested variances.
This can only happen with significant back and forth commentary between the town planners and developers, can take significant time… and typically goes through several revisions during the process.
All before the Planning Board hearing is scheduled.
So all this leads to “What defines a complete Planning Board application date?”
Well to add to the mix, the developer’s “planning and engineering” consultants submitted a letter to Gloucester Township on January 6, 2023 which answers a variety of questions, and crisply lays out a timeline.
In developer’s own document timeline they state that the “Preliminary and Final Major Site Plan for Proposed Warehouse” has a submitted revision date of January 6th 2023.
So a question is… when does that 95 day clock start?
If the developer submits a revised site plan (likely the most important aspect of an application), does the Planning Board then get a full 95 days to act on that revision? Does the clock reset with every revision?
It has been 51 days since January 6th, 2023.
Links and Locations
Modani Sicklerville Warehouse
1000 WIlliamstown-Erial Rd
Gloucester Twp, NJ
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