ROXBURY, NJ – Representatives of a Ledgewood condominium development are fighting a Roxbury company’s plan to move its headquarters to a former cement plant site in Kenvil.
The Drakesville at Roxbury Homeowner’s Corp. contends Fullerton Grounds Maintenance’s proposed operation would be noisy, environmentally risky and otherwise detrimental to the neighborhood. A pond that's part of the Drakesville Condominium project abuts the property being eyed by Fullerton.
Many of those objections were aired March 26 at a Roxbury Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting. The board has been gathering evidence related to Fullerton’s proposal to demolish parts of the dilapidated former cement plant at 77 Hillside Ave., renovate others and convert the 7-acre site into its base of operation.
The zoning board members anticipated that testimony in the matter would conclude at the March 26 meeting, but the hearing was extended until April 9 once the clock approached 11 p.m. At that meeting, Fullerton lawyer Edward Dunne will be cross-examining Roger DeNiscia, a Montclair-based planning and zoning consultant hired by the condo association to testify against the proposal.
DeNiscia argued that the business proposed by Fullerton Grounds Maintenance (FGM) would be “incompatible with the area and might damage the nearby wetlands.
Earlier in the meeting, Kenneth Nelson, a planning and zoning consultant from Wantage, hired by FGM, made the opposite argument. He said there are “a limited number of uses for the property,” and contended FGM’s idea has far more benefits than drawbacks.
“This property has been on the market for 10 years,” Nelson said. “The existing buildings would not be suitable for most businesses and if those buildings get demolished we get into other issues. The fact that he (FGM owner Scott Fullerton) wants to keep and rehab some of the buildings makes his use very appropriate.”
However, lawyer Dennis Avigliano, representing opponents to FGM’s plan, argued that granting the variances requested by FGM would go counter to the “trend” of Roxbury’s master plan revisions: To systematically reduce the intensity of commercial uses on property near residential areas.
The opponents expressed particular concern about noise from trucks coming and going as well as from a vehicle maintenance garage FGM would build on the site. Fullerton told the board the site would be rather quiet since most of the vehicles leave to do jobs in the morning.
“For seven acres of property, I don’t think any use would have lighter use during the daytime,” Fullerton told the board. “It’s not an intensive use. I think it’s being very mischaracterized.”
The closest homes to the property are above it, on Kentwood Road in Kenvil.
If it receives approval for the project, FGM would move to the site from its current headquarters on Berkshire Valley Road in Kenvil. “This is a good thing for the town,” said Dunne in a prior interview. “That place has been broken into many times. The entire inside has been damaged by vandals.”
The property and buildings are owned by American Stone-Mix/Bonsal of Atlanta, Ga., according to records. Dunne said Bonsal last operated the plant in 2008 or 2009. Dunne said FGM wants to buy the site from American Stone-Mix. The property is assessed at about $760,000 and Dunne said FGM rehabilitation would “exceed a million” dollars.
“The premises have fallen into disrepair from lack of use and maintenance and have been a home for vagrants and an attractive nuisance for vandals and trespassers who have soiled the interior … covered the outside with graffiti in spite of locked gates and buildings,” says Fullerton’s land development application. “The premises are fully overgrown with weeds and unsightly brush, parking lots are in disrepair and it is otherwise an eyesore.”
Fullerton said he regularly visits the property and finds, each time he does, that it is increasingly vandalized. “There’s been a continuous effort to keep the site secured,” he said. But the site has deteriorated over time.”