Saturday, July 21, 2018

Run for your lives - the warehouses are coming

Near new Amazon warehouses, Mansfield resident Beth Camp protests plans for more

Jan Hefler reports for the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The first Amazon fulfillment center to open in New Jersey, four years ago, was greeted with excitement. Amazon, the online shopping giant, came into Robbinsville promising jobs and significant tax revenues and downplayed concerns there could be any adverse impact on the small town.

But within a year, Mayor Dave Fried was threatening to sue and shut down the facility, citing safety concerns. Amazon had projected that it would have 1,000 employees, but that number quickly quadrupled, clogging streets and neighborhoods that were already reeling from the onslaught of tractor-trailers rumbling through the town, he said.

Burlco warehouse map - Inquirer graphic

Now, as two more Amazon centers and a few other mega-warehouses move south into Burlington County, the residents in the rural towns that would host their facilities are mobilizing. Uniting under the banner Northern Burlington CARES, or NBCares for short, the residents say Robbinsville is a cautionary tale, and they are demanding that developers take measures to minimize potential traffic problems ahead of time.

“Throughout Northern Burlington we’re becoming sandwiched in by all these warehouses,” said Michelle Rosenblum of Florence. “The problem is the cumulative impact of all these warehouses and increasing traffic and noise.”

The grassroots NBCares scored perhaps its first victory last week after waging a bitter legal battle against a developer in Mansfield Township, a predominantly agrarian community centered on the quaint village of Columbus.

The group announced Thursday that it reached a legal settlement with a developer who had proposed an 1.8 million-square-foot warehouse project that would have consumed 200 acres of farmland off the New Jersey Turnpike and I-295. Plans called for hundreds of tractor-trailers to leave the warehouse each day and thunder down a narrow, hilly, two-lane road lined with farms and about 20 homes that sit on wooded lots.

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