As we prepare for 2019, let’s take a look back at some of the top moments from this past year in our schools, in the community and around Voorhees Township.
Voorhees Township saw plenty of news happen over the past year. From various school athletic and academic programs to changes at the municipal level and more, let’s take a look back at what made headlines.
Let’s take a look back at some of the top moments from this past year:
Voorhees Town Center renovation plans continue to evolve
Voorhees Township’s largest taxpayer at nearly $1 million per year, the Voorhees Town Center, continued to be one of the main talks of township committee during 2018, as it seeks to be renovated.
The Sun reported in May the committee planned to grant final approval to a plan that would designate select portions of the Voorhees Town Center complex as a “Condemnation Area in Need of Redevelopment.”
With that designation, under state law the township would have power of eminent domain and the power to seek out developers interested in purchasing the property from the township and improving the space.
Voorhees Township Administrator Larry Spellman told The Sun township officials were already speaking with potential redevelopers before acquiring property, which they later did in the year.
A “conditional redeveloper” was named in October. Brandywine Financial Services Corp. was eventually named the redeveloper as having the best vision in line with Voorhees Township for how to transform and revitalize the Town Center.
NFL cornerbacks Logan Ryan and Eli Apple return home to host football camp at Eastern
In June, NFL cornerbacks and Eastern Regional High School alumni returned to their alma mater to give back to the South Jersey community as they hosted their second Thursday Night Lights football camp at Eastern.
The free football camp allowed youth football players from ages 8 to 18 to compete in workouts and drills, learn more about the fundamentals of the game and find out what it takes to become a pro football player.
Ryan and Apple hosted the camp for the first time in 2017. Some 350 kids came out to the inaugural event last year. This year, the event filled up again, with 350 kids participating alongside about 50 coaches and other volunteers, many who share a personal connection with Ryan and Apple.
The camp was free to attend, with youth players simply needing to fill out a form to reserve a spot prior to the event. Ryan and Apple fund the entire cost of the camp and both felt it was important to keep the event free so it would be open to anyone.
“Anybody that loves football, that wants to see me and Eli, that wants to push themselves with their peers and see what it takes to become a pro can come out,” Ryan said.
Teaching the fundamentals was an important part to the camp. Ryan said learning the fundamentals at a young age was crucial to his future success and a number of his youth coaches were at the camp this year to teach the next generation of players.
“So many fundamentals are taught at that age,” Ryan said. “I’m known to be a good tackler in the NFL for a corner. I learned that in little league. I learned how to hit, how to tackle properly, how to tackle with my eyes up. Some of those fundamentals we’re teaching tonight with those coaches who taught me, the same coaches will be here teaching these kids.”
Apple noted the camp isn’t just about football. He felt it was important to teach the kids how hard work and determination can help someone achieve their goals in all different aspects of life.
Wawa/Tractor Supply Store project denied by planning board’s deadlock vote
At the August Voorhees Township Planning Board meeting, three and a half hours of deliberation led to two stalemate votes on the subject of approving or denying a Super Wawa and Tractor Supply company near the corner of Kresson Road and Route 73.
The stalemate votes, according to board solicitor CherylLynn Walters, equated to a denial for the application by law.
Much of the evening was focused on meeting the needs of multiple variances, including moving the Tractor Supply Store forward 20 feet to include a further vegetation buffer with residential properties and also including privacy measures to block light and glare, as well as additional aspects.
The applicant agreed to all of this and more. However, the Achilles’ heel of the application seemed to be the proposed driveway located behind TD Bank with the exit/entry way onto Kresson Road and the possible left-turn lane included in the site plans. This turn lane would require approval from the county.
While the project was denied, the applicant had the opportunity to appeal the decision and present the board with a different application.
Board members Anthony Nicini, Vaughn Vandegrift, Jason Ravitz and Chairman Tom Fanelli voted to deny the application.
In favor were Kelly Jo Stroemel, Stella Sytnik, Mario DiNatale and Subash Rashatwar.
Not present were Brett Waters, David Kleiman, Michelle Nocito, Wendy Flite and Mayor Michael Mignogna.