⚫ Many towns lack rules indicating spots where warehouses can't be located

⚫ A new proposal would fund towns' efforts to update their rules

⚫ The proposal includes a $1 million fund

The warehouse boom in New Jersey is the target of a new bill in the legislature.

The proposal devotes a total of $1 million to municipalities in the Garden State that want to get a better handle on the placement of these massive buildings, by reexamining their outdated zoning rules.

Legislation introduced by Assemblyman Joe Danielsen, D-Somerset, establishes a pilot program to reimburse municipalities that want to make updates to their ordinances that plainly note where warehouses can and can not be located, or to towns that want to conduct a warehouse mitigation study.

"This pilot program will provide municipalities with the proper resources to adapt their land use policies to account for significant increases in warehouse development throughout the state and mitigate potential impacts on their environment and community," Danielsen said.

Warehouse development — or "sprawl," as some groups call it — has presented itself as a hot topic in several New Jersey towns over recent years. Developers site a location, the municipality doesn't have anything on the books that technically can block the project, and residents argue that they don't want the traffic, noise, and pollution infiltrating their community.

"A lot of towns have been caught soft-footed, on unstable ground, with the boom of warehouses," said Ed Potosnack, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. "They've been popping up like mushrooms on a wet lawn."

And, due to a lack of updated rules within towns, warehouses are ending up in spots that aren't ideal, such as near schools and on farmland, Potosnak said.

Under the legislation, the Office of Planning Advocacy handles the $1 million program. OPA would also be directed to create one of more model zoning ordinances that can help towns craft their rules related to the siting of warehouses.

"Right now the Office of Planning Advocacy can offer warehouse guidance to municipalities, but it does not have the associated resources to help communities reexamine relevant plans and ordinances," Danielsen said.

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