A FedEx truck transportation facility proposed for Industrial Parkway has moved a step forward with recent approval from the Jerome Township Board of Zoning Appeals.
The conditional-use permit approval for the 488,000-square-foot facility (expandable to 530,000 square feet) on 100.66 acres on Industrial Parkway north of the Estates Parkway intersection included two separate votes on a variance and a set of zoning conditions.
On Feb. 21, BZA members voted 4-1 to approve a variance to allow a concrete sound wall 20-feet high on the property.
The BZA members voted 3-2 on a list of zoning conditions, with BZA chairman Rich Coglianese, vice chairman Mark McMullen and Gene Phelp voting "yes" and Marcia Bashnagel and Bill Milesky voting "no."
The conditions address the area's existing character, traffic flow, utilities, landscaping and the mitigation of traffic, noise, smoke, fumes, glares and odors.
Although the area was already zoned commerce -- the proper type of zoning for the facility -- the size of the facility exceeded the zoning code's maximum size of 25,000 square feet for a distribution center, said Township Zoning Officer Mark Spagnuolo. That is why it required a conditional-use permit.
The township's zoning code also includes square footage limitations for certain types of manufacturing uses, he said.
The township has those limitations to ensure development proposals that exceed those limitations come before township officials to review, he said.
BZA members shared conflicting opinions during their vote.
Bashnagel said the facility will produce excessive traffic and noise, and the existing road network is unprepared for this type of development.
"That is going to change the character of this area in ways that are difficult for us to even fathom at this point in time," she said.
Milesky said the lack of studies about such topics as the facility's effect on property value or air quality prevented him from voting to approve the conditions.
Coglianese, however, said he votes yes based on the evidence provided by the applicant, 42 Real Estate LLC.
"I cannot base a decision on speculation," he said.
David Westrick, a representative of FedEx Ground Media Relations, declined to respond to specific questions citing company policy regarding a proposal under consideration, but provided a prepared statement.
"We are pleased that the Jerome Township Board of Zoning Appeals has approved this conditional use permit and look forward to the completion of the permitting and approval process," Westrick said.
Some township residents, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the BZA's decision.
Truck hubs are typically located near major interchanges, but in this case, the facility will be located near residential areas at a detriment to residents and local traffic, said Megan Sloat.
"I'm extremely disappointed by the decision of the BZA tonight," she said.
Lucinda Burian said she was concerned about the impact the facility would have on commute times for township residents.
Burian said she questioned why the township isn't bringing in companies in other industries -- such as technology or health -- with pay scales that could allow workers to live in the area.
"I'm not seeing them bringing any value," she said.