Two Wrongs don’t Make a White

WHITE TWP. – Residents don’t normally stop large developments in New Jersey.

But there are always exceptions, and we just saw that in a very, very big way in this rural Warren County community near the Delaware River.

It was back in 2019 when Jaindl Farms and Land Development proposed building about 2.8 million square feet of warehouse space on almost 600 acres.

The uproar was palpable.

Decked out in orange shirts, residents came by the hundreds to monthly planning board meetings to voice opposition.

Warehouses mean tractor trailers – lots of them – on small, country roads 24 hours a day. They also mean more pollution, more people and just about more of everything.

One may have been tempted to say – a bit dismissively – “that’s just the way it is.”

OK, but we are talking about a different part of New Jersey. There aren’t all that many genuine rural places in North Jersey and this is one of them.

The roads are narrow, there are many farms and the night sky uninhibited by all that much artificial light is stimulating to observe.

Travelers may know the area because of Hot Dog Johnny’s, an iconic hot dog stand on Route 46.

For five years. residents came to board meetings and opposed the warehouse plan. This was an uphill battle. Wealthy developers always have the advantage and there was a legitimate need here.

As traditional malls are on the downswing, many people want merchandise delivered to their doors. You need warehouses to make that happen.

This may have ended with board approval, or perhaps a court fight if the board rejected the plans. Keep in mind, the land was zoned to permit warehouses.

But last June, the state through its farmland preservation program got involved. As it was explained, the state needs to be aggressive if it wants to preserve farmland.

Dave Jaindl, the company president (pictured), recalled taking the call without even knowing who the person on the other end of the line was.

It was Susan Payne, the overseer of the state’s farmland preservation program.

A few months later, an agreement for the state to buy the land for preservation was announced. Things take time to be formalized, but now they are.

Shortly before noon on Thursday, all the relevant parties signed the deal in township hall. The reported sales price is $28 million.

But the bottom line for residents is this:

No Warehouses!

And as the closing took place, about 50 people – many in orange shirts – were jammed into town hall, prompting Payne to say she’s never seen so many people at a closing.

Then again, as she also was to say, it’s unusual for the state to preserve such a large parcel.

Local elected officials were on hand.

Doug Steinhardt, the state senator from LD-23, said what many residents had said for five years. That being that the township and the site were just not the right place for a massive warehouse project.

One of the district’s assemblymen, Erik Peterson, said it’s important to make sure all of New Jersey is not merely a collection of cities and suburbs.

“We want to keep our rural heritage alive,” he said.

Anthony Sposaro also spoke, and that probably had the most meaning.

Sposaro was Jaindl’s attorney, and as such, he spent all those years going to planning board meetings.

The meetings were not always loving.

Tempers occasionally got hot – on both sides.

“I wasn’t always treated well by the public,” Sposaro said. “But I gave a few barbs … myself.”

That was all in the past.

When the speeches ended, it was time for all to visit the newly-preserved farm – Buckhorn Creek.

The five-year fight was truly over.

 

 

 

 

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4 responses to “Two Wrongs don’t Make a White”

  1. We have the same problem in Clifton, nj. They want to put a huge 4 story storage building on a residential lot in a residential neighborhood. We need some help in stopping this. The next zoning meeting is June 19 at 7 in the city hall.

  2. The only way to stay on top of these situations is to attend every meeting and ask questions. If you can make them then have someone that can attend. Without a voice stuff gets pushed through.

  3. Warehouses mean “more of everything” as you say, but they also significantly mean LESS open space or farmland. The increased truck traffic is bad, the resulting air pollution is bad, but so often arguments against warehouses center increased trucks as the main issue. Traffic can be bad but I’d like to see more focus on how bad the desctruction of open space is. NJ needs open space to prevent extreme heat and flooding. NJ needs open space to keep the ecological systems running. Don’t forget the other negative impacts of warehouses.

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