The New Jersey State Planning Commission cast a vote on guidelines to help municipalities meet growing demand for storage space Wednesday morning.
In part due to nearby ports and transportation corridors, New Jersey is a prime area for warehouses and distribution centers. The growth of e-commerce has resulted in additional logistics growth in the Garden State. The industry has proven lucrative for New Jersey with taxes and job creation, but has also put pressure on roads, water infrastructure, and the environment. The paper reviewed on Wednesday morning attempts to navigate this scenario for local authorities, where most planning and development reviews take place.
“The commission encourages the use of these guidelines to provide a balanced approach to warehouse management that considers environmental and economic sustainability and public health,” the commission noted.
In general, the guidelines aim to facilitate better cooperation and coordination between local, county and regional government bodies. The guidance aims to produce a proactive rather than a reactive approach to warehouses. Specifically, the document provides municipal factors to consider when developing or updating a master plan and reviewing applications and requirements.
“It’s been an interesting challenge because there have been a number of interesting opinions,” Donna Rendeiro, executive director of the New Jersey State Planning Commission, said Wednesday morning. “But it’s not a finished product.”
For starters, even the term “warehouse” has been given a debatable definition. A traditional warehouse, according to the document, is used to store products or goods for longer periods of time, while distribution and fulfillment centers store products for relatively lesser periods. The latter see a much higher speed of loading and unloading products, especially in distribution centers, which deliver goods directly to customers.
But this definition only scratches the surface. The report says the Institute of Traffic Engineers (ITE) now lists six different categories of storage definitions. For simplicity, these can be reduced to three main types associated with today’s e-commerce landscape and logistics infrastructure. These include distribution or breakbulk facilities, fulfillment centers, and last mile fulfillment facilities or stations.
Distribution centers tend to ship from retail to businesses and distribution centers, and generally do not ship to end users, which is another term for external customers. Fulfillment centers are typically larger than fulfillment centers, are located away from major population centers, and are a complex transit hub for large quantities of bulk goods that typically do not require individual finishing or packaging . This is because they are temporarily stored on pallets before being shipped.
This is different from a fulfillment center, which is a type of fulfillment center that picks and packs items from shelves for individual delivery to “fulfill” your online order. Typically, they are smaller than distribution centers and focus on fast delivery of goods and tend to be between 150,000 and 500,000 square feet.
The guidelines recommend that municipalities update their master plans and zoning before doing anything else. “Many cities in New Jersey are finding that their communities are particularly vulnerable to poorly sited and poorly sized storage projects because they have zoned large areas of their community, especially farmland in rural areas, for uses” light industrial” widely applied. As a result, many land-use plans and zoning ordinances may be inadequate.”
The report recommends “proactive planning”, which initially includes a master plan review and updating their zoning ordinances. In doing so, the report states that “local governing bodies can ensure that they clearly define and distinguish the more traditional industrial and commercial uses and variety of types of warehouses – from smaller last mile delivery facilities (50 000 to 150,000 square feet) with limited truck trailer traffic, to large scale distribution centers and high capacity warehouses which generate much higher levels of heavy truck traffic which are mobile sources of pollution air. “
More than 70 comments were received from advocacy groups and the public by the July 29 deadline, officials said Wednesday morning. During the meeting, public comments were received. Some focused on general issues, while others focused on a specific subset, such as ports.
“If we don’t have a good port strategy to deal with electric trucks, we won’t have a comprehensive strategy,” said Amy Goldsmith of advocacy group Clean Water Action.
The commission plans to revise the document.
“This is a rapidly evolving topic,” said Tom Wright, chairman of the New Jersey State Planning Commission.
A vote on the memorandum could take place at the committee’s September meeting.