New year expected to bring lots of action to Medford Township

In 2014, Medford Township had a lot of discussion on a variety of topics.

In 2015, the township is hoping to finally take action in a number of areas.

Mayor Chris Buoni said 2015 will be a busy one for council as the township looks to finally move on topics such as changes to the Route 70 business corridor, Pinelands Branch Library and the hiring of a new township manager.

With the year expected to be active, Buoni said residents will have plenty of opportunities to be actively involved in the changes happening in the township.

“We’re going to be engaging the public a lot this year,” Buoni said.

Business development

The first big story likely to hit Medford Township this year will be progress with ordinance changes for Route 70. Buoni said council could begin passing ordinances in line with the planning board’s Route 70 corridor study as early as this month.

“We’re excited to implement that because it will allow businesses to be a little more appropriate,” Buoni said. “I think the planning board did a great job in helping flesh that out.”

Some of the recommendations the planning board made in its study include increasing the maximum size of businesses along the Route 70 corridor, allowing more uses for businesses in the area and relaxing buffer restrictions to make businesses more visible from the highway.

Council will be discussing the proposed changes in more detail in the coming months and can choose to pass ordinances based on the recommendations.

Buoni said the changes council decides to make will be ones it feels suits the community best.

“We’re just trying to find things that fit in the context of our community,” he said.

A number of new businesses moved into Medford, particularly Medford Village in 2014. Buoni said the economic growth was exciting to see, and he feels it will continue into 2015.

“We’ve had a number of business owners express interest in town,” he said. “I think we’re going to see appropriate growth for the town.”

Pinelands Branch Library

The future of Pinelands Branch Library could come to light in 2015 as the township and Burlington County continue discussions on the facility.

The county recently presented some concepts to council to help modernize what the county has previously called an outdated facility.

“What we need to take a look at is what the appropriate way to approach it is,” Buoni said. “I’m pretty excited about that.”

In 2013, freeholders and council were at odds over who should foot the bill for renovations to the facility. Buoni said talks between council and the freeholders were much more productive last year than they were previously.

Council is hoping to present a specific plan to the public before the end of 2015.

Improvements to Bende Park

Medford Township is hoping to make improvements to Bob Bende Park with its submission of an application for a $65,000 Community Development Block Grant

If the township receives the grant from the Burlington County Office of Community Development, it plans to install new sidewalks and parking lot cut curbs to make the park handicapped-accessible. Council authorized the application at its Dec. 2 meeting.

“We’re basically looking to use that money to get Bende Field in better condition,” Buoni said.

The CDBG grant is administered through Burlington County. Buoni said the county has been a big help in the past with grants to fund improvements to parks.

“The county has been very helpful with that,” Buoni said. “They make sure our parks are available to as many people as possible.”

Township manager position

Medford will continue its search for a new township manager in 2015. The position has been vacant since the resignation of former township manager Chris Schultz in August.

Buoni said council has received about 40 resumes for the position and conducted interviews throughout the fall.

“We’ve spent a lot of time in interviews,” he said. “We met some really good people, but we haven’t met the person who is right for Medford Township.”

Buoni said council is not in any rush to fill the position, saying it will take its time to find the right person. Township clerk Katherine Burger will continue as the acting township manager to begin the year.

Deer fence discussion to continue

Council plans to continue exploring an ordinance to better define deer netting in the context of its fence ordinances.

Last May, the topic of deer netting came to council after there was some confusion among residents as to whether deer netting was classified as a fence in township ordinances.

After much discussion, in the fall, Council authorized the creation of a subcommittee to take a closer look at the issue.

Deer fencing was on a council agenda in November, but it was tabled because the subcommittee had a number of questions come up about the existing ordinance.

Buoni, who is one of the members of the subcommittee, said it will continue to study the topic early in the year. There will likely be some movement on the subject in 2015, though Buoni said he doesn’t expect any action for at least a few more months.