Sun. Jun 20th, 2021

JACKSON – Right now an orange fence, one of those flimsy, temporary ones, is the only sign the pristine woodlands along Anderson Road are in trouble. Soon there will be two warehouses here. Huge ones, covering more than a million square feet between them.

It’s part two of the massive Adventure Crossing project, following a sports and entertainment complex whose construction already is underway.

Development is a way of life in suburbia. If you live in New Jersey and can’t accept that, then move to Montana. But warehouses — monuments to the online shopping boom whose bubble may be about to burst as the pandemic winds down — are a bridge too far for a group of Jackson residents trying to push back.

“Everyone we call is pointing us in a different direction,” said Tracy McKinney, an environmental biologist who lives near these orange fences. “I’ve written letters to all our (government) representatives. No response from anyone. Not a single one.”

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Jackson residents Debora Scatuccio (left) and Tracy McKinney stand in front of the fence line for the Adventure Crossing USA project near their homes.

This problem goes beyond Jackson. “Warehouse sprawl” has become a thing in the New Jersey, especially along the Interstate-195 corridor that cuts across the central part of the state.

It’s so bad that today, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, will introduce a bill designed to rein it in.

“New Jersey is proud to be known as the Garden State, but we are at risk of becoming the warehouse state,” Sweeney said in a statement. “The rapid increase in the construction and operation of retail warehouses poses a threat to the preservation of farmland and open space. The impact of these large-scale projects extends to neighboring communities that can experience economic and environmental consequences that impact their quality of life.”

The story continues after photo gallery below.

Sweeney is no tree-hugger. He is the consummate political moderate, and his championing of this cause should set off alarm bells for anyone who lives near a highway.

‘An explosion’ across the state

Warehouse wars have unfolded in Howell and Upper Freehold, too.

“We have seen an explosion of warehouse projects all across the state, but especially in Central Jersey, that are zeroing in on I-195 as kind of the warehouse/truck corridor for the one-click economy,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “We have a speculative economy of developers rushing in to build these massive warehouses. This is the height of pandemic development. Warehouse have huge environmental costs to communities.”

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The Adventure Crossing development along Route 537 in Jackson Township shown Thursday, July 9, 2020.

In Jackson, for example, “this property lies on the border of two watershed areas,” said Britta Forsberg, executive director of Barnegat Bay EcoCenter. “The portion with the warehouse projects, that watershed drains directly into Barnegat Bay.”

The bay, Forsberg said, “is dying the death of a thousand cuts” from development-related pollution. “Every one of these projects matter.”

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