Meet the Candidates for the 2016 Cherry Hill Township Council Special Election: Week 3

Carolyn Jacobs and Rick Short are running to fill a one-year unexpired term on Cherry Hill Township Council this fall. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Carolyn Jacobs

1.) How would you grade the township’s efforts the past few years when it comes to new commercial and residential development?

I would give Cherry Hill Township an “A” for the efforts of this administration to balance and manage commercial and residential development.

Cherry Hill has a well-deserved reputation as a great place in which to raise a family, in large measure due to our lively and diverse neighborhoods, our award-winning and highly-regarded neighborhood schools, our many recreational amenities and facilities, historic properties, working farmland, open space and proximity to a large city and all it has to offer.

As a long-time member of the Planning Board, I have first-hand knowledge of the planning processes (including the Cherry Hill Master Plan) that seek to maintain a good balance between residential and commercial development, a balance that works for residents and commercial property owners alike. Our township works hard to keep commercial development in appropriate corridors along our major roadways and keep it from intruding into our neighborhoods. Cherry Hill’s goal remains the revitalization of unused and underutilized properties that are already zoned for commercial and institutional uses.

On the residential side, we are also seeing developers responding to market forces and seeking to take advantage or our town’s attractive proximity to Philadelphia, transportation, shopping, restaurants and other lifestyle factors.

What does all of this mean? It means that the revitalized commercial properties are paying a greater share of taxes, saving our residents from shouldering the tax burden and allowing the Township to keep its tax rate stable over the past five years. It also enables Cherry Hill to not only maintain, but to increase the services it is able to provide to our homeowners, apartment dwellers and store-owners.

2.) How do you envision Cherry Hill Township five years from now?

Each week when I am at a township council or planning board meeting, I look at Cherry Hill’s official seal. It consists of a cornucopia and a single word, “prosperity”. Five years from now, I see Cherry Hill more than living up to that word.

I see a town with economic prosperity, where homeowners are investing in their properties and developers are not only seeing, but acting on the growth potential that our fortunate location, vibrant corridors, available transit and highways have to offer. I see few, if any, abandoned and underutilized properties as they are being repurposed and revitalized. I see a town that outsiders not only drive through, but in which they work, they stop to visit, they dine and they shop.

I see social prosperity in our diverse neighborhoods and our many thriving religious institutions. I see our parks and playgrounds full of residents enjoying the out-of-doors. I see our historical properties used to their fullest potential. I see a town where young adults, raised here, return to raise their own families and where our oldest citizens are able to gracefully age in place.

I see educational prosperity as Cherry Hill’s schools continue to be at the forefront of education in New Jersey and they remain a primary reason why families want to live here. I see more and more banners proclaiming “Blue Ribbon School” and “National School of Character.”

And, finally, Cherry Hill’s ranking in Money Magazine’s listing of the Top Places to Live in the United States, is soaring from №26 to the top of its list!

Rick Short

1.) How would you grade the township’s efforts the past few years when it comes to new commercial and residential development?

Hard for me to say this, but a “D” for a grade. My teacher’s constructive notes would say “does not work well with others.” Let me explain.

While there are a few reasonable ideas, as the efforts move to the actual planning/building stage, the final products do not reflect any consideration to “stakeholders,” in other words, “residents.” The ever present, continuing Cherry Hill insult is the “race track” development that leads the list. Seventeen years after approval, the town has switched developers three times, and has a never-ending list of changes to the original plan. Plus we still don’t have the promised sports fields after 17 years? The latest Costco plan adds a 16-pump 10,000 square foot gas station which drove out 300 unhappy residents to a council meeting and in the end was unanimously approved by council and called “in the best interest of Cherry Hill.”

The Haddonfield Lumber development plan had residents file suit against the town (high density housing, 152 units on nine acres), the fast paced effort to move the Municipal Building and eminent domain six house, and last but not least is the Advanced Recovery Systems facility that is being forced on the Brookfield development.

The common thread is that each area discussed (some did not have discussion), were greeted with overwhelming opposition from residents, and then totally ignored by the governing body.

2.) How do you envision Cherry Hill Township five years from now?

Cherry Hill is a microcosm of New Jersey. The tax base is shrinking. The state is trying to attract commerce to Camden City. This effort will subtract from other areas of New Jersey and that fact is not being publicly acknowledged. Raising the Gas Tax does not make any area in New Jersey more attractive. Our schools are crumbling, and everyone is just “whistling past the grave yard”. The state and county governments are not spending money efficiently. I am not positive, but I am an optimist. We can start the change with this election and begin the journey back!

I hope my win in this election will begin our “comeback.” One party rule does not work. Take a peak across the river.