ROXBURY, NJ – Fullerton Grounds Maintenance (FGM) got the green light Monday to proceed with its plan to move its headquarters to a site in Kenvil now occupied by a dilapidated former cement plant.
The Roxbury Zoning Board voted 5-1 to grant FGM the zoning variances it needs to move forward. The sole negative vote was cast by Roxbury Zoning Board Member Joyce Dargel, who questioned the environmental impact of FGM’s plan for the North Hillside Avenue property.
The resolution approving the variances includes a number of stipulations, including requirements that FGM obtain permits from the state Department of Environmental Protection, comply with noise restraints, limit the number of trucks parked on the site and never wash its vehicles on the property.
Fullerton’s plan was opposed by some residents of the area and by representatives of the nearby Drakesville at Roxbury condominium development, which owns a pond that abuts the property. The opponents said they fear Fullerton’s plan will bring noise, traffic and pollution, concerns FGM asserts are unwarranted.
Zoned for Business, Not Butterflies
In a statement before he cast his vote, Roxbury Zoning Board Chairman Brian Overman said he had to remind himself that the 7-acre site – despite being currently quiet - is zoned for busy commercial use.
“When I think of the site now - where birds are chirping and nature is taking over- there are some elements that are like open space,” he said. “But it’s not intended to be an open space zone. It’s intended to be used for commercial purposes.”
Before becoming a cement facility in the 1950s, the site served as a quarry, according to FGM. Since last used for cement production in 2008, the grounds have gone to seed and the buildings have succumbed to graffiti, decay and vandalism.
FGM owner Scott Fullerton, who called the place a “tremendous eyesore,” plans to spend about $1 million to buy the property, restore some of the structures and demolish others, including the towering metal silos adjacent to the railroad tracks. His company is currently based on Berkshire Valley Road, also in Kenvil.
For Sale Forever
The site is owned by American Stone-Mix/Bonsal of Atlanta, Ga., which has been unsuccessful in its attempts to find a buyer.
Kenvil resident Gabriele Jertz, one of the project’s opponents, said she bought her nearby house in November 2008 “exactly after the cement factory closed down.” She said she was confident the site would not again be used for that type of industry because the township was changing its zoning to a less intensive use, perhaps for a lumber yard, something she contended would be less intrusive than FGM’s.
But Overman said the fact that a decade passed, with no new business buying the site, is revealing.
“I look at that property and I think, if I were a business owner and I wanted to put my drive-through or whatever on it, that is a huge undertaking,” Overman said. “To purchase this property, tear that down or re-purpose it while not necessarily knowing what’s underneath it … I think you have to look at it from the perspective that you have someone here who’s willing to take it on, willing to refurbish it and turn it into a viable space.”