From NJ Spotlight:
After new data showed New Jersey’s warehouse boom continues unabated, advocates renewed calls for state or regional control over where they can be built and for limits on local authority of the process.
Opponents of the current surge in warehouse construction say it can only be controlled by handing more authority to county, regional or statewide bodies. They can set policies that recognize that the impact from such buildings spreads beyond the individual towns that currently decide whether a warehouse can be built and under what, if any, limitations.
Municipalities, many of them cash-strapped, are lured by the prospect of more property-tax revenue that comes with the giant buildings, and those considerations often outweigh community concerns about more truck traffic, declining air quality or consumption of New Jersey’s scarce open space, critics say.
Without broader oversight, the critics predict local roads will be choked with truck traffic, farms and forests will be developed and the state’s remaining rural corners will be industrialized.
But shifting power to state or regional authorities is a heavy lift, said Jim Gilbert, a former chairman of the State Planning Commission, because that body does not have control over warehouse siting and because any attempt to weaken municipal power will meet strong resistance from defenders of New Jersey’s home-rule tradition.
“As soon as you start talking about comprehensive regional planning, the towns go crazy because they don’t understand that it’s really fundamentally in their interests,” said Gilbert, who advocates for broader authority over warehousing. “Home rule is a religion in New Jersey.”