SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – Warehouse expansion:“yes;” Ridge Road trucks: “no.”

Mayor Frank Gambatese was met with applause from the public when conditioning the approval of the warehouse expansion application on Ridge Road in front of the Planning Board Wednesday evening at the municipal building.

“Ridge Road uses of trucks is the major concern here, with the regard to the quality of life for the people who live in that area,” Gambatese said in casting his vote to approve the application. “Based on that, I would say as condition of approval, that no use of Ridge Road by any trucks be allowed in this application.”

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The unanimous approval allows for a total of three warehouse buildings, totaling some 979,270 square feet, to be built by Frank Greek Development on a 91-acre site that sits at both 2351 Route 130 south and 335 Ridge Road, behind the Indian Fields Elementary School.

Chairperson Paul Prodromo along with board members Mirza Baig, William Grober, and Jerome Lutin each agreed with Mayor Gambatese.

This decision was made thanks to all of the powerful speeches that came from community members during the evening.

A number of residents spoke out during the public comments section of the hearing, expressing concerns about not only traffic, but also the project’s proximity to the school and the playgrounds next to the construction site.

“I get it, I totally get it. But you don’t get it; you don’t live there. Your children don’t live there. I guess after all of this… why didn’t you just go for a variance to flip the building (away from the school,)” said Debbie Schwartz, whose family lives on Ridge Road. “This would eliminate the noise, the air pollution, the driveway on Ridge Road issue, the school, and the neighbors, why wouldn’t you just do that from day one. Do you really not care about nothing? I am just blown away by how little you care about the neighbors, and the children in our community. I know you don’t live here, but with everything else going on, we can’t come together as a community?”

Not only did Ridge Road residents come forward, but also teachers from Indian Fields School, which is located on Ridge Road.

Barbara Laniado, who works as a teacher’s aide at the school made her own demonstration to present to the board.

Laniado presented pictures of the playgrounds next to the construction site with descriptions of how many students at the school are out on the playground each day, which equated to about 400.

Several of the photos showed a temporary chain link fence, put up by Greek to separate the properties during the early phases of construction.

Greek said that a permanent earth berm and another six-foot-high fence will be put on the site to shield the school.

“The children and the school are going to be subjected to the construction the entire time. When you knocked that other building down, it actually shook the entire school,” said Laniado. “We play right here, do you know how many balls go over this fence? We play right up to the property line.”

The public’s comments provided the board with personal insights on the matter at hand with the warehouse, and is the reason board members said they decided on the condition of not allowing truck traffic related to the warehouses on Ridge Road.

The next Planning Board Meeting will be held at 7: 30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2.

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