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BRIDGEWATER, NJ-WP Commercial, based in Chatham, NJ, wants to expand an existing office building here and add two additional smaller buildings, but the developer’s proposal raised a number of issues at an acrimonious planning board meeting recently in this Somerset County township of 45,000 people. Action on the proposal has been put off until at least next month.

What WP Commercial wants to do is expand the existing but vacant former Olivetti regional operations building at the intersection of Route 202 and Milltown Road here, adding a second floor and a total of 104,000 sf to the 233,000-sf asset, bringing it to about 337,000 sf. The company’s proposal also calls for adding the two smaller buildings of about 62,000 sf each, creating a three-building office complex of just over 460,000 sf.

In terms of the project’s size, it comes at a time when the Somerset County office market is one of the softest in the state, although the county, located in Central New Jersey, had exhibited a pattern of explosive growth prior to the recent downturn. For their part, opponents of the project recently cited potential traffic and the impact of a new entrance on Milltown Rd.

WP officials could not be reached for comment, but at the recent planning board meeting asserted that they had actually reduced the density of what they intend to build on the site and an adjacent tract. The company’s officials pointed to the fact that while an adjacent site is currently zoned for retail use, and that a CVS Pharmacy is slated to rise there, WP’s development plan calls for a conservation easement. The site, under this scenario, would be used instead as a drainage basin for the expanded office complex.

“We have reduced what we were entitled to develop on this site,” William Savo, a lawyer representing WP Commercial said at the planning board meeting. “We have been meeting with residents, and we have been acting in good faith.”

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