New mayor selected in Tabernacle

Maybe third time’s a charm for Tabernacle Mayor Richard Franzen.

Franzen, now in his ninth year on township committee, was sworn in as mayor for the third time at the committee’s recent reorganization meeting.

Former mayor Kim Brown was sworn in as deputy mayor.

“I think we need to continue the good work that I believe we’re doing with keeping taxes low (and) providing quality services for our residents,” Franzen said.

He also stressed the need for township volunteers who will work with the committee.

Franzen said finding money is the most challenging thing as well as finding ways of doing things that don’t cost money.

He said Tabernacle usually gets small grants from the county. The township applied for a grant to make a ball field handicapped accessible.

“We don’t know what the state aid figures are going to be this year,” the mayor said.

“I think the fact that we haven’t raised taxes in four years speaks for itself,” Franzen said. “I think we’re doing quite well.

“We’re happy to be able to keep the rate where it is.”

Franzen said development in Tabernacle has slowed down, pointing to two pending developments.

One development, on Medford Lakes Road with 57 units approved, has had no luck selling there. Also, about five houses on Tuckerton Road haven’t been able to sell either.

And how about attracting business to the town?

“You always look for ratables but I think you have to be careful,” Franzen said. “I’m not so sure that the residents of the township would like to see a Home Depot or a big super shopping center on Route 206.

“You’re looking to get more but I don’t think we want to become a box store community,” he added, noting there are big box stores located not far away from the township.

“I think the people of the town like the fact that it is a small town and they just continue to act like it’s a small town,” Franzen said. “Whether it’s the governing body or the fire company or the rescue squad or the athletic association or any of the community associations, everybody likes the small town environment that’s here and we all work to keep it that way.”

The mayor, born and raised in Burlington County, has lived in Tabernacle for 40 years.

He said he likes the smallness, the friendly people, the community spirit, the volunteerism and the laid back environment of Tabernacle. He is also a self-described “Pine Barren nut.

“It’s a great place to live,” Franzen said,

Married 42 years, all three of his children are grown.

Franzen and his family moved to Tabernacle in 1972 in part because of the school system.

“It was good then and it’s very good today,” he said.

Franzen was on the school board from the 1970s to 1990s and his wife retired as a teacher in Tabernacle school district.