Officials and the public are debating whether a proposed warehouse should be built off Highway 1/9 on the old PJP Landfill site.
The council will vote on zoning the land for the warehouse at a meeting this coming Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the Mary McLeod Bethune Community Center, 140 Martin Luther King Dr.
Mayor Jerramiah Healy has been a staunch proponent of the warehouse because it is expected to bring about 400 permanent jobs for local residents, operating on a 24-hour, seven-day weekly schedule. It also would bring more than $1 million in taxes.
The project has faced intense opposition from residents living near the site, who claim that trucks going to the location would bring increased traffic on Highway 1/9.
Residents have been concerned enough about the issue that there was a community meeting Thursday night at the Temple Beth-El on Kennedy Boulevard.
Hudson County officials want the land to host a golf course and have been pursuing county and state funds to acquire the land.The warehouse
The 883,000 square-foot AMB Warehouse would function as a distribution center for items brought from ports in Newark and Elizabeth.
It would be built by the San Francisco-based AMB Corporation on 54 acres of land, taking up 41 of those acres. AMB is currently under contract to purchase the property from its current owner, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark. The entire site is over 80 acres, with 30 acres also owned by the Siegel Brothers, who operate a trucking facility on the land.
The warehouse is slated to have 36-foot high ceilings, a sprinkler system, 158 loading docks, 344 parking spaces, and 192 trailer storage spaces.
Some residents would like the area developed as a park or recreation fields.
However, the future of the warehouse and the site comes down to a City Council vote. Tour of similar warehouse in Cranbury
In order for the warehouse to be built, the City Council must vote to amend a city land development law, which would allow for the proposed AMB Warehouse.
The area is currently zoned for retail stores, residential homes, and office space.
At the July 19 City Council meeting, the council postponed voting, as Mayor Healy requested, to allow the public to learn more about the warehouse. Healy suspected the warehouse would be rejected in a close City Council vote.
Recently, City Council members were taken on a tour, organized by Healy and AMB, of another warehouse AMB built in Cranbury to see a facility similar to the one proposed for the PJP Landfill site.
The tour was arranged to convince opposing or undecided council members to vote in favor of the warehouse.
Did the tour change any minds?
Ward D City Councilman Steven Fulop said last week that it did not change his opposition to the warehouse.
“I [asked] Mayor Healy a month ago how we would feel about living next to a warehouse,” said Fulop.
Ward D City Councilman Bill Gaughan refused to tour the Cranbury facility.
“I didn’t need to take a trip at 8 a.m. to go down the [New Jersey] Turnpike. I know what a high cube warehouse looks like,” said Gaughan. County puts aside funds for same land
Some believe that Gaughan, City Council President Mariano Vega, and City Councilman at-Large Peter Brennan are opposing the warehouse to allow county officials to acquire the property. But all three have denied that their opposition is politically motivated.
County officials voted to put aside $4 million in Open Space Trust Funds when the County Freeholders met this past Thursday.
Healy met on Tuesday at City Hall with county officials, including Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, and on Thursday with AMB representatives to resolve the issue. Both possibilities at once
What if there were a warehouse and open space on the same site?
Ward C City Councilman Steve Lipski and Ward B City Councilwoman Mary Spinello are proposing to declare the landfill as an area in need of redevelopment, which would allow the city to either buy or condemn the site. Then it could be re-shaped to accommodate both the warehouse and open space.
What has been the response?
Spinello said that the compromise will be discussed further at the council caucus meeting Monday morning. Fulop was not impressed.
“This compromise comes down to the city getting what it wants, the warehouse and the county getting what they wants with the open space, but the people getting screwed,” said Fulop.
Robert Cavanaugh, attorney for AMB Corporation, said earlier last week that he was waiting to hear from city and county representatives about the compromise.
“When they are prepared, we will be there to listen,” said Cavanaugh.
Cavanaugh, a former Jersey City councilman, was surprised that council approval for the warehouse was taking so long, as the issue has been discussed since February this year.
“When I was on the City Council, if there was a proposal for a job producer that wasn’t a garbage transfer station, there would be immediate movement,” said Cavanaugh. Thursday meeting
On Thursday, residents met to discuss the issue with officials at Temple Beth-El on Kennedy Boulevard.
For two hours, Healy, along with AMB representatives, addressed the concerns of residents who live an area primarily between Communipaw Avenue and Lincoln Park.
Their questions ranged from the amount of trucks that will be traveling in and out of the warehouse to the amount of jobs at the warehouse that will actually available for Jersey City residents.
Healy mentioned that AMB, based on a meeting earlier in the day, has made a commitment to set aside five acres of open space on the site and contribute $500,000 for improvements in Ward B, where the warehouse is located. It this getting out of hand?
But are various forces using government employees to get residents to support their side?
Three Downtown Jersey City residents, who wanted to remain unnamed, said last week that they were approached by a city fireman at the Shop Rite supermarket near Newport Mall and by a city Recreation Department worker in Hamilton Park to sign a petition in support of the warehouse.
When Healy was asked after Thursday’s meeting about city employees taking part in this petition drive, he said that Hudson County government employees had also been doing the same thing. Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org