Home Mt Laurel News Mt. Laurel Council reviews removing polling locations from Paws Farm Nature Center

Mt. Laurel Council reviews removing polling locations from Paws Farm Nature Center

Due to the limited parking at Paws Farm, the township might ask the county to move the locations to the nearby St. John Neumann Church.

Changes could be coming soon to polling locations for some voting districts in Mt. Laurel, namely those at Paws Farm Nature Center.

Officials discussed the issue at the most recent Mt. Laurel Council meeting, with acting township manager Meredith Tomczyk suggesting council try to move the polling locations for voting districts Nos. 5, 14, 19 and 24. Those districts all vote at Paws Farm.

Due to the limited parking at Paws Farm, Tomczyk suggested the township ask the Burlington County Board of Elections to approve moving the districts to the nearby St. John Neumann Church.

“The nice thing about St. John Neumann is the parking,” Tomczyk said. “There’s plenty of parking.”

Tomczyk said Burlington County recently asked the township if there were any polling locations it wanted the Board of Elections to consider relocating, so she was looking for approval from council.

During the 2016 election, Tomczyk said voters’ vehicles filled the entire parking lot at Paws Farm throughout most of the day, in addition to voters parking on the side of Hainesport Mt. Laurel Road and in the parking lot of the nearby Wawa.

Tomczyk said polling workers also asked the township to consider moving polling places from Paws Farm, as they, too, had problems finding parking at Paws Farm after returning from breaks throughout the day.

When asked if there were any alternative locations to move the districts other than St. John Neumann Church, Tomczyk said there were no locations large enough to fit four districts.

Tomczyk said the church also has the available space and rooms needed to split the four districts into different areas, with two districts in the church’s auditorium and the other two in two private rooms.

Deputy Mayor Rich Van Noord also brought up the possibility of moving District 20 to St. John Neumann Church as well, as that’s the district where the church is located.

“I think using that location is wise, it’s just what districts should go there,” Van Noord said.

Mayor Dennis Riley also agreed with the viability of St. John Neumann Church.

“From a traffic flow standpoint, it is a far more desirable site,” Riley said.

Councilwoman Linda Bobo raised the possibility of only moving some of the polling locations from Paws Farm while keeping others.

Polling locations were originally moved to Paws Farm in 2015 after the township and Mt. Laurel Board of Education asked the county to approve moving all polling locations out of Mt. Laurel schools due to an incident during the June primary of that year when Parkway Elementary School received a threatening phone call from a man who claimed he was inside the school with a gun during voting hours.

“We’ve had to scramble over the course of the last few years,” Bobo said.

Tomczyk said the county requested a submission from the township by February, and council agreed to review the issue until the next council meeting.

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