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Redevelopment ordinance adopted, applies to proposed apartment complex

EveshamTownship

A new apartment complex is one step closer to coming to Evesham.

At the Sept. 30 meeting, the Evesham Township Council adopted the redevelopment plan for the area along Route 70 near the border of Evesham and Medford more commonly known as the Aristone Tract.

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The area encompasses the Roland Aristone office building and the surrounding Aristone properties under the ownership of the Carmela Aristone Trust.

A representative of Fieldstone Associates LLP, developer of the recently-built Marlton Gateway Apartments on Main Street, went to council earlier in the spring with a proposal for a new 200-plus apartment development on the tract, which would also include 1,000 square feet of commercial space.

Although the plan originally presented to council included a component where Fieldstone would pay neighboring Medford to annex just more than two acres of land to Evesham to complete the project, Medford has not yet approved that annexation.

The land where the complex would be built brings the township about $1 million in ratable tax dollars annually, but the complex is expected to bring in somewhere between $10 million to $20 million.

Only one member of the public, Fred DeAntonis, spoke before council adopted the resolution.

DeAntonis said he had spoken to the council last year expressing concern for the pace of development programs in the township.

He said he understood the projected municipal tax benefit that such an apartment complex would bring to Evesham, but he also questioned whether the township had looked into how school taxes might be affected with the number of new school-aged children who might move into the complex.

“What is important here is to take a look at what the net effect in terms of cost to the residents between what the township is going to realize in additional taxes and what the residents are going to have to pay for the additional cost of educating the students that are going to be the result of all of these apartments,” DeAntonis said.

Mayor Randy Brown, who prefaced his remarks by saying he was speaking for himself and not the entire council, said most of the apartments in the potential complex would only be one- and two-bedroom apartments, and most of them would come without any children, as studies have shown such apartments attract few families with children.

“Your question is going to be ‘OK, well if we bring in 75 kids out of that, Randy, that’s just going to blow the top off.’ Studies have found that little to no children go into one- to two-bedroom communities, and these communities are usually constructed without playgrounds, without any of the amenities that children are brought to,” Brown said.

Township Manager Thomas Czerniecki echoed Brown’s sentiments and said in his former position of township manager for Eastampton, he encountered a similar situation where it had a 240-unit-apartment complex where it was contemplating a development proposal, and Czerniecki was able to prove the 240 units only generated 11 school-aged children.

“I demonstrated that those 240 units sat on 25 acres, and they generated 11 school-aged children, and that was the case actually eight years ago and that was the case last month,” Czerniecki said. “Eleven school-aged children, 240 apartments.”

Both Brown and Czerniecki also referenced the demography studies done by Rutgers University that found that only .02 children come from every one- or two-bedroom apartment, and said that was the number most townships and school districts use.

DeAntonis asked if the township or the school district had done a similar study specifically for Evesham, but Brown said he felt enough studies had been done and to do one more would be a waste to the taxpayers of $25,000.

Brown also thanked DeAntonis for asking “great questions,” and lamented that more residents were not in attendance as often as in the past when residents and school board members have asked for more ratables to help with school district budgets.

“I wish there was more than one resident at this meeting,” Brown said. “You’re one representing 50,000, and I appreciate you doing it.”

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