Cherry Hill Council approves Hampton Road redevelopment plan on first reading

The redevelopment plan, if approved, calls for the construction of 300 residential units on about 20 acres of land between Hampton Road and Cuthbert Boulevard. The second reading and public hearing on the plan is scheduled for July 10.

Cherry Hill Township Council is one step closer to adopting a redevelopment plan for the Hampton Road gateway redevelopment area.

At last Monday’s meeting, council approved an ordinance on first reading to adopt a redevelopment plan for the Hampton Road area. The second reading and public hearing on the plan will go before council at its next meeting on Monday, July 10.

The redevelopment would place 300 residential units on approximately 20 acres between Hampton Road and Cuthbert Boulevard. The plan calls for a mix of two- and three-story multi-family residential buildings, as well as a pair of four-story buildings located at the back of the property near the Courier-Post offices.

Most of the redevelopment area consists of the abandoned Saunders Publishing facility. A former Bell Atlantic Telephone service operations center, a small office building and two parcels of undeveloped wooded land also fall in the redevelopment zone.

Cherry Hill Land Associates will be designated the redeveloper for the site if council approves the plan. The Hampton Road redevelopment area is one three sites CHLA is permitted to build on according to an agreement it made with the township in 2015 to preserve Woodcrest Country Club.

The redevelopment plan originally went before the township planning board more than three months ago. The planning board approved the plan at its meeting on March 20. No changes have been made to the redevelopment plan since planning board approval.

During the planning process, some residents have expressed concerns about the redevelopment. According to the minutes from the March 20 planning board meeting, members of the public spoke both in support of and in opposition to the plan. Some of the opposition expressed numerous concerns, including traffic, buffering, landscaping, stormwater runoff and the overcrowding of the school system. Those who supported the redevelopment backed the redevelopment of the former industrial properties into a viable use and felt the plan showed the township was investing into Still Park, a neighborhood bordering the redevelopment area.

In March, township director of communications Bridget Palmer said township officials had a meeting with leaders of the Still Park neighborhood prior to the planning board meeting to discuss the plan and address concerns.

A few residents attended last Monday’s council meeting and expressed several concerns with the plan. Linda Wilson, a resident from Still Park, said she is trying to sell her home and the first person who came to check out her home liked it. However, she said the prospective buyer was no longer interested when they found out about the nearby redevelopment plan.

Wilson questioned whether council would listen to the concerns of the residents during the ordinance’s public hearing.

“On July 10, when we show up and say we don’t want this to happen, there’s nothing that’s going to make that true,” Wilson said. “It’s still going to happen. Those 300 homes are still going to go up.”

Pat McCargo, a former Still Park resident, said she still has family who lives in the neighborhood and noted residents continue to have numerous concerns about the project. She cited the neighborhood’s issues with basement flooding as one of the primary concerns about the project. She asked council to listen to the residents’ concerns leading up to the July 10 public hearing.

“I would still hope you all will listen to what the residents are saying in terms of how that’s going to impact them,” McCargo said.

Councilwoman Carolyn Jacobs, who also serves as the council representative on the planning board, said the township is aware of the drainage issues, and the planning board will make sure the issues are addressed.

“It is really a very, very preliminary first step,” Jacobs said about the plan at the end of the meeting. “It will go from here, if approved, to very detailed site planning, and that site planning must take into account the drainage issues in that neighborhood.”

Mayor Chuck Cahn and members of council told those in attendance they are listening to the concerns of residents. Cahn also offered to meet with some of the Still Park residents and address some of their concerns prior to July 10.