On Monday, June 24, the Hopewell Township Committee will consider a proposed ordinance regarding the BMS campus in Hopewell Township. Committee members look forward to hearing from anyone who is interested in this issue. There will be a comment period specifically to express views on the ordinance.
We are providing additional information to facilitate discussion about the ordinance.
BMS is leaving the campus by 2020 and the property is up for sale. Under current zoning, only one tenant can occupy the campus. The site is too large for many, if not most, potential purchasers. Subdividing the property means the site can be marketed to a wider range of potential tenants. A vacant property benefits no one. An occupied property means jobs for local residents and tax revenue for the Township (and keep in mind BMS is the Township’s largest single taxpayer). The proposed ordinance would permit a subdivision of the property.
The current Township Code allows certain materials to be manufactured on the site so long as they are used on the site. Specifically, the Code allows “uses devoted to research, experimentation, design, education, and development in medicine, pharmacology, chemistry, physics, engineering and similar fields.” The ordinance proposes to add a conditional use: “Production and assembly in the RO-1 District only in the fields of medicine, pharmacology, chemistry, physics, engineering, biologics and similar fields, including, but not limited to the production of medicines, including nutritional products; medical products and medical devices, and their component parts; and other similar items, so long as such use meets the conditional use standards….” In other words, rather than limit the manufacturing of such materials to research, experimentation, design, education, and development, a new occupant would be able to produce those materials for sale. For example, the current ordinance would allow a company to produce a chemotherapy drug so long as the manufactured drug was used for research. The proposed change to the ordinance would allow that company to produce the chemotherapy drug for sale.
The proposed ordinance specifies the amount of permissible truck traffic for the site. If materials are produced for sale, then raw materials have to be brought to the site and the finished product has to be removed from the site. As with any business, truck trips would take place as needed with limitations on the size of trucks that could be used on a daily basis. The site is currently approved for over 1600 peak hour (morning and evening) trips, including a small amount of truck traffic. Also, BMS has said it expects the total traffic will decline when a new tenant comes to the site, as the tenant is not likely to be the same size and scope of BMS.
The Township has other rules in place governing commercial uses of property, including the General Development Plan and environmental regulations. Any tenant coming to the BMS site must comply with those rules as well.
The Township Committee considered the ordinance on June 3 and referred the ordinance to the Planning Board. On June 12, the Planning Board heard public comment, discussed the ordinance, and issued its decision approving the proposal. The fact that a proposed ordinance is not compatible with the Master Plan does not bar consideration of an ordinance, and the Planning Board stated its reasons why it recommended that the ordinance should be adopted.
The meeting begins at 7:00 PM. Again, anyone who is interested in the ordinance is welcome to come to the meeting, listen to a presentation, make comments, and ask questions.