SOUTH HARRISON — Residents of a small rural Gloucester County township are cautiously celebrating a win against warehouse development.

Home to less than 3,500 people, South Harrison is mostly farmland. The residents of the small municipality are among many putting up a fight against warehouse sprawl that is spreading throughout New Jersey.

Lineage Logistics pulled its application to build a 426,000-square-foot cold storage facility with over 60 truck bays in the township last week — a surprising decision that came just days before it was set to go before the local zoning board on Monday night. The meeting has also been canceled.

The proposed warehouse has faced major pushback from locals. A GoFundMe to hire a lawyer to fight the project has received nearly $15,000. More than 1,000 people have signed a petition while others have made signs and shirts with anti-warehouse messaging.

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Zoning map in South Harrison Township (YouTube screengrab via Joe Vitale)
Zoning map in South Harrison Township (YouTube screengrab via Joe Vitale)

Located on Vestry Road, the warehouse would be an expansion of an existing facility.

The parcel of land is currently owned by South Harrison Mayor Joe Marino. According to his LinkedIn page, Marino also works for Lineage as the director of business development global sales. Opponents of the warehouse have said he stood to profit by selling the land to Lineage.

Lineage has remained silent about its reasons for withdrawing the application. Marino and Lineage did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.

South Harrison residents react to warehouse withdrawal

Ed Menold, a vocal opponent of warehouses in South Harrison, said to CBS Philadelphia last year that he lives across the street from the proposed site. In a Facebook post last week, he cautioned against becoming complacent.

"Great TEAM effort, but we can't let our guard down. This could be refiled at any time," said Menold.

(South Harrison Township/Canva)
(South Harrison Township/Canva)

Others in a Facebook group dedicated to opposing the project expressed similar feelings.

"Bet they wait till the smoke clears and try again," said Donald.

Joe Vitale, another South Harrison resident opposed to the plan, said to NJ Spotlight News that he wouldn't be surprised if the application was revised and refiled.

New Jersey losing its farmland?

The application called for a variance allowing Lineage to build its cold storage facility 60 feet high. South Harrison zoning laws cap buildings at 35 feet, or less than three stories.

"The bottom line is that this proposal clearly, I think, violates our master plan and our zoning ordinance," said John Hasse, professor of geography and environmental planning at Rowan University.

Hasse, who lives in South Harrison, said the warehouse project goes beyond just the township.

The professor spoke to residents at a winery last week about the environmental effects the warehouse could have. He also said South Harrison could set a model for how other towns handle developers wanting to build warehouses on farmland.

"Over the last 35 years as we've measured, New Jersey is losing ten football fields a day of prime farmland. This is not insignificant," said Hasse.

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