Sparta Group plans meeting to discuss opposition to warehouse project

SPARTA — An “organizational and briefing” meeting on the “shutdown” of the proposed 800,000 square foot warehouse project for Demarest Road is scheduled for Thursday evening.

The meeting was scheduled by the new Sparta Responsible Development – ​​a nonprofit group that opposes the project formed under the New Jersey Highlands Coalition.

The meeting will take place at the Lake Mohawk Country Club beginning at 7:00 p.m.

A “Say No to Sparta Warehouse” flyer announcing the reunion and “shutdown of the Diamond Chip Warehouse and future warehouses in Sparta” is being circulated around the township and on social media sites.

Since the Lake Mohawk Country Club meeting room has a capacity of 70 people, organizers are encouraging residents to participate online via a Zoom link.

The opposition grew out of the proposed warehouse project known as Diamond Chip Logistics Park, by Diamond Chip Realty on the Sparta Redi-Mix property on Demarest Road.

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Layout plans detailed at a Sparta Planning Board meeting March 2, call on two warehouses, one 506,880 square feet and the other 373,600 square feet, on approximately 68.04 acres of land near Highway 15.

Resident concerns about the project include the potential for increased noise, traffic, and pollution in the area. Those who oppose the project say the warehouse and the trucks coming and going will possibly damage local roads and highways. They also fear that the beauty of the rural township will be ruined by the “truck depot”.

“The future development of the Township of Sparta must be driven by an engaged and thoughtful discussion among its stakeholders,” reads an article on the Sparta Responsible Development Facebook Page. “This should not be done without engaging the community and assessing the environmental, social and long-term benefits.”

Proposed site for warehouses in Sparta, NJ

A online petition opposing the warehouse project had garnered more than 2,700 signatures by Tuesday afternoon.

Residents did not have a chance to speak about the project at the last hearing, but they will be able to do so at the Planning Board meeting next week. the agenda for this meeting lists more than 70 questions from the public submitted at the March 2 meeting for candidate witnesses to answer.

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Jim Ford, the developer of the Diamond Chip app, was unable to answer many specific questions from council during the hearing because there is no planned tenant for the site yet. He said the facility is intended to store goods for distribution to local retailers and will not contain any harmful materials. “I’m not in the business of dirty operations,” he told the board.

Artist's rendering of the proposed site plans for the Diamond Chip Logistics Park, located at the Sparta Redi-Mix site on Demarest Road in Sparta.  The project would encompass approximately 68 acres of land and include two warehouses totaling 880,480 square feet.

New Jersey, like the rest of the country, sees a growing need for storage space boosted by the expansion of online sales and next-day delivery services.

New Jersey’s warehouse and distribution center boom is being bolstered by the state’s proximity to ports, which are seeing record levels of trade volume as the global economy recovers, Newmark research shows, a global commercial real estate company.

Warehouse and distribution space inventory has grown an average of 10% over the past five years in the New York and New Jersey area.

Sparta Redi-Mix on Demarest Road, the site of a proposed warehouse complex totaling over 880,000 square feet, is seen Friday, March 4, 2022.

Quick access to numerous highways and railroads near ports and airports, combined with a large population for quick access to consumers, makes North Jersey very attractive to developers. Although most of the land in these populated areas of New Jersey has already been built on, developers plan to redevelop existing properties such as empty office parks. When that’s not an option, they look for open space or farmland in Sussex and Warren counties in northwestern New Jersey.

The next Planning Board hearing will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6 at the Sparta Municipal Building. It was originally supposed to be remote, but the Planning Board has brought back its in-person-only meetings.