Residents protest over planned warehouse development in South Jersey

The project - planned by Russo Development - includes four buildings in sections of Harrison and neighboring Woolwich townships.

Friday, December 2, 2022
South Jersey residents show up in numbers to oppose warehouse project
The plans for the development have been sharply opposed by some residents who live near the site in Harrison Township.

HARRISON TWP., New Jersey (WPVI) -- Some residents in Gloucester County, New Jersey are not happy with a planned warehouse development project.

A vote on the proposal was expected during a Thursday night Harrison Township Council meeting, but it was delayed until December 15 due to a large turnout of residents who showed up in opposition to the agenda item.

The plans have been sharply opposed by some residents who live near the site.

When Alyssa and Dan Marsella bought their Mullica Hill home last year, they loved the idea of living in a rural area.

"We fell in love with it," said Alyssa.

But last month they received a letter notifying them of plans for a two-million-square-foot warehouse development in the fields across from their neighborhood, Casella Farms.

"Getting in and out of the neighborhood going to Rt. 322, I don't know how it's going to be possible with trucks doing 1,000 trips a day," said Alyssa.

The project - planned by New Jersey-based Russo Development - includes four buildings in sections of Harrison and neighboring Woolwich Township near the intersection of Route 322 and Tomlin Station Road.

The plans include widening Route 322 to accommodate traffic.

A public hearing was held on November 17, and public comment and vote were expected Thursday before it was postponed.

The Casella Farms Homeowners Association filed a lawsuit this week in New Jersey Superior Court against Harrison Township's mayor and council in an attempt to stop the project.

Another concern from neighbors: the development will sit right next to a day care center.

Judy Sheffield doesn't live in Casella Farms but does live nearby.

She and others feel caught off-guard by these plans and ask for more transparency from officials.

"If it were you, would you want this in your backyard? You moved here for the same thing that we did," said Sheffield.

She also says she is not opposed to new construction. She just doesn't want warehouses.

"We have to go to Swedesboro for a hotel or Glassboro," she said. "Why not have a nice boutique hotel here so we can have weddings and all of that?"

Harrison Township's mayor and deputy mayor told Action News they couldn't comment because of the pending litigation.

The new location for the meeting is Pleasant Valley School.

A Russo Development spokesperson released the following statement on Thursday's postponement:

"We are disappointed that we did not receive expected approvals for the as-of-right development plan for our property that straddles the Woolich-Harrison boundary on Route 322 just off Exit 2 of the New Jersey Turnpike.

The redevelopment zone and our resulting plan are more than 4 years in the works and were fully vetted at numerous public hearings that were adequately noticed. We understand the residents' concerns, but we believe these were full addressed under the oversight of the municipality. We expect that this development will ultimately be approved and the region will embrace it for its capacity to create good-paying local jobs, its responsive to environmental concerns and its sensitive design that reduces quality of life impacts to a minimum."