ROXBURY, NJ – At a former cement plant off North Hillside Avenue in Kenvil, the weeds get higher, the graffiti gets thicker and the vandalism gets worse.
What isn’t happening so far: A planned redevelopment of the "eyesore" site into a new headquarters for Fullerton Grounds Maintenance (FGM).
Despite receiving local approval 15 months ago to move its headquarters to the property at 77 North Hillside Ave., FGM has yet to begin the big project. The parcel remains for sale and – despite a locked gate – people keep trespassing.
Fullerton and his lawyer, Edward Dunne, contend the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is to blame. They said they thought they’d satisfied the state’s permit requirements related to wetlands near the property, but were subsequently hit with new permitting demands.
The DEP says the fault lies at Fullerton’s feet.
On June 6, 2018, Fullerton applied for what’s called a Freshwater Wetlands Special Activity Waiver,” said DEP spokesman Larry Hajna. He said the application concerned the plans to build a salt shed, fuel tanks, a debris container, a concrete slab and lay gravel within a freshwater wetlands transition area.
The property, which includes the path of the former Morris Canal, is adjacent to a pond owned by Drakesville at Roxbury.
On Aug. 8, 2018, the DEP “issued a deficiency due to necessary site plan revisions”, Hajna said.
In January, Fullerton submitted a revised draft plan. But “an additional change was requested due to a technical deficiency,” said the spokesman recently.
“The agent for the project has not submitted the revision," Hajna said. "DEP recently reminded him to send copies of revised plans so that review may move forward.”
FGM has not given up hope. Dunne and FGM President Scott Fullerton both said they want to get the permitting matters out of the way and proceed with the project, proposed in late 2017.
The cement plant stopped operating in 2008 or 2009 and the imposing structures on the 7-acre site became – and remain – attractive to young people, the curious and other trespassers. The site is owned by American Stone-Mis/Bonsal of Atlanta, Ga., which would sell it to FGM once FGM receives the permits it needs to begin work.
In its 2017 application for a zoning variance, FGM pointed to the dilapidation of structures at the site.
“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,” wrote FGM. “The premises are fully overgrown with weeds and unsightly brush, parking lots are in disrepair and it is otherwise an eyesore.”
Last week, Fullerton said he sees more damage - and often people - every time he visits the place.
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