Asking DEP Oversight on Zoning Board Decision

We want to share with other Piscataway residents our concern about the proposal to convert farmland into another warehouse development at 1690 South Washington Ave., bordering the South Randolphville Elementary School.   

We have sent the following letter to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection about the proposal now before the Piscataway Zoning Board, scheduled for a vote on February 25, 2021. If you would like to join this community effort, please contact: pwayprogressives@gmail.com.

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Dear Commissioner LaTourette:

We are writing in regard to DEP oversight of a land use issue in Piscataway, NJ.  The property in question is 1690 South Washington Ave., a 40-acre tract that is currently zoned as farmland, and also eligible for residential housing of one house per acre because of sensitive wetlands on the tract.  

A development corporation affiliated with Edgewood Properties is requesting that the Township Zoning Board rezone this parcel as commercial property, approving the construction of two warehouse facilities on this site.  Action is set to be taken on Feb. 25, 2021.

We have reason to believe that the current owner, the developer and/or Piscataway Zoning Board have applied for DEP waivers regarding wetlands protection of this property, waivers which would allow the warehouse development to go forward.  We are formally requesting that DEP inform us of any ongoing review.  We also request that the DEP refrain from issuing waivers on this property until it can be properly evaluated under the state’s new environmental justice rules and new legislation that requires municipal plans to address climate change.

Under NJ’s environmental justice mandates, S.232, Piscataway is an “overburdened community.”  People of color are more than half of our residential population.  We have very high air pollution rates, meriting a consistent “F” rating from the American Lung Association.  In the past six years, Piscataway has been developed as a diesel trucking hub, with nearly 1,000 new truck bays located in mega-warehouses along the I-287 corridor.  Similar warehouse sprawl lines our borders with South Plainfield and the Borough of Middlesex.  

Yet, the Piscataway Township Council, Planning Board and Zoning Board have not considered, or monitored, potential increases in truck emissions and deadly particulate pollution.  With passage of S.232, we believe they are required to review the impact of adding two more warehouses to our existing air pollution load, while sacrificing low-impact land use.  S.232 also requires them to hold public community hearings in impacted neighborhoods prior to seeking permits, which has not been done.

Concerning vulnerable populations, please also note that the 1690 South Washington parcel borders on the Randolphville Elementary School, a school already adjacent to the Colart Distribution Center built in 2019 and two Dawn Food Products distribution warehouses built in 2015, with 100 truck bays between them.

Regarding climate change impacts, the Governor has just signed new mandates for NJ municipalities to plan for potential flooding and storm-water runoff due to rising sea levels and more frequent super-storms like Sandy (S.607).  The Piscataway Zoning Board has not addressed what the loss of wetlands and permeable soil at this site would mean for the town’s climate resilience.  Given how much open, wooded land has been lost to large-scale warehouse development in the past six years, we believe this is a serious problem. 

Again, we request information on any DEP reviews already underway regarding 1690 South Washington.  We further request that no waivers be issued until the rezoning proposal for this parcel is fully reviewed under the standards set by S.232 and S.607.  

We are sorry for the urgency of our request, but it has taken extraordinary personal effort by Piscataway residents to access public information in this matter.

Thank you for your important work,

Ann Bastian and Al Howard, 113 Fountain Ave.

Sarah Rashid, 618 Buckingham Dr.

Laura and Ed Kasaukas, 29 Lakeside Dr.

Staci Berger and Bill Irwin, 233 Ellis Parkway

Herb Tarbous, 411 New Market Rd.

Laura Leibowitz, 102 S. Stratton St.

Quiyana Butler, 44 Lincoln Ave.

Kamuela Tillman, 280 River Rd, #86B

Mindy Goldstein Walsh, 200 8th St.

Juliet Pastras, 9 Juniper Lane

Syed Shoaib, 240 Hampshire Ct.

Dr. Tom Connors, 10 Seward Ave.

 

cc:       Olivia C. Glenn, Deputy Commissioner, Environmental Justice & Equity

Gary J. Brower, Director, DEP Office of Legal Affairs

 

If you would like to join this community effort, please contact: pwayprogressives@gmail.com.