Evesham is growing, literally.
At its last meeting, Evesham Township Council approved the annexation of 2.9 acres of land from neighboring Medford Township to help facilitate the development of a new apartment complex.
The land, known as the Aristone Tract, is located on the eastbound side of Route 70 and is comprised of land encompassing the Ronald Aristone office building and the surrounding Aristone properties previously under the ownership of the Carmela Aristone Trust.
Fieldstone Associates LLP, the developer of the Marlton Gateway Apartments on Main Street and would-be developer of the new complex, had its attorney, Jeffry Baron, first propose the annexation to council in a presentation in early spring.
In that presentation, Baron said it was Fieldstone’s original intention to build the complex, with more than 200 apartments and several thousand square feet of commercial space, on both Evesham and Medford lands.
However, according to Baron, when Medford officials were presented with the idea, they did not want residential units inside the township, citing increased school costs as a concern.
To rectify the situation, Fieldstone offered to pay Medford to simply de-annex to Evesham the portion of land in Medford on which the complex would be built.
Evesham officials have previously said they did not have a concern of rising school costs, similar to that of Medford, citing studies in which it was shown that one- and two-bedroom apartments, most of what will be in the new complex, attract very few families with school-aged children.
“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,” Evesham Mayor Randy Brown said.
In the months following that first presentation to Evesham, Fieldstone and Medford worked out the details of the arrangement, with the two sides approving an agreement in November in which Fieldstone would pay Medford $75,000 to officially de-annex the land to Evesham.
At the November Medford Township Council meeting during which the annexation was approved, all members of Medford Council were in agreement
with the deal, and said it was sensible for the townships and developer.
“We felt it was in the best interest of the town,” then Medford Mayor Chris Buoni said.
At that meeting, Buoni also said much of the 2.9 acres that are now a part of Evesham consisted of wetlands, which would make other development on the land very unlikely.
“It doesn’t have potential for development,” Buoni said.
Once Medford approved the annexation, all that was left was for Evesham Council to also approve it.
Evesham Deputy Mayor Ken D’Andrea said the two sides had been discussing the deal to make the parcel of land more complete for some time, and council was thankful everyone was able to come to an agreement.
“We’re thankful that our good friends next-door, the township of Medford, have authorized the ability to transfer the deed,” D’Andrea said.
Evesham Township Director of Community Development Nancy Jamanow said the next step would be bringing a resolution before council designating the newly acquired land as in need of redevelopment or rehabilitation, to bring it in line with the surrounding area.