Committee discusses housing project, continued bike safety

Additionally, multiple persons were appointed to new positions within the VTPD and Voorhees Fire Department

Voorhees Township Committee celebrated the appointments and promotions of multiple people at its meeting Monday, July 15, to both the police department and fire department, while also discussing a housing project as well as bike safety.

At the beginning of the meeting, committee had the second reading of an ordinance seeking to amend the township’s zoning districts to add a section entitled “Affordable Housing Districts.” The addition would be in line with working on a potential housing project located at 1223 Haddonfield-Berlin Route, or Route 561.

Voorhees resident Frank Dutton spoke during the public portion of the second reading on the ordinance, with more than 20 neighbors of the nearby Elm Tree Farms Development also in attendance, asking for a potential delay in the vote while the residents seek to learn more about the project in the coming days or weeks.

Additionally, Dutton and other residents were concerned that many were given less than one business day’s notice that the reading of the ordinance would be at the originally scheduled committee meeting July 8. Dutton said none present at the meeting from his neighborhood received notice of the meeting prior to Friday, July 5, with some receiving it over the weekend, leaving no time to learn about the property’s potential future from the redeveloper.

After the July 8 township committee meeting was cancelled and pushed back a week, Dutton says they received a letter July 13 indicating that the redevelopers of the property would be meeting with the township’s planning board Wednesday, July 24, leaving many to believe that meant that the upcoming committee meeting would once again be cancelled.

Regardless of communication issues, Dutton requested that the vote of the ordinance be delayed so residents could learn of the upcoming redevelopers plans and intentions.

“We thought things were moving just a little too quickly with us not really knowing what’s going on there,” said Dutton in a phone call with The Sun following the meeting. ““Without getting a whole lot of time to review what was going on, we just kind of felt like things were getting rushed through.”

Committee agreed to table the ordinance to allow for the residents to meet with the redeveloper and have ample time to learn of groups intentions.

“The last thing we want is for [the residents] to be uninformed and if you feel uninformed, that’s a fair request,” said Mayor Michael Mignogna to Dutton and residents in attendance.

Dutton thanked committee for its receptiveness to accommodating the residents’ wishes to table the ordinance to a later date, allowing for time for the residents to meet with the redeveloper. Dutton says, personally, he is not against anything being done with the property, but instead just wants to know what is going at the location.

“The property has been a real eyesore in the township over the years,” said Dutton.
“Anything would be an improvement to what is currently there.”

Also at the meeting, committee passed a resolution promoting bicycle safety and public awareness of “swerving” activities within Voorhees Township, while also fully supporting the enforcement of ticketing and other penalties by the police department.

Committee addressed the issue at its meeting June 24, stating that the rise in minors “swerving” into oncoming traffic to “play chicken” with oncoming vehicles is unacceptable riding behavior and, clearly, dangerous behavior.

“I think that there is some significant frustration in our community because the police were proactive in holding school assemblies, and there was also a significant amount of information sent out to parents about this issue before school ended,” said Deputy Mayor Jason Ravitz in a phone call with The Sun. “I think much of the frustration is that it didn’t, to some degree, work because kids are still not obeying the bike laws so we have no choice but to empower our local law enforcement.”

Ravitz also said that, since the issue has become a major public safety issue, the resolution was passed to show support for the police in their continued effort to keep both minors and drivers safe on this topic.

“The Voorhees Township Police Department has far better things to do, but this has become such an important issue,” said Ravitz. “We’re trying to avoid a tragedy. I don’t want to see anything bad happen to any of the kids in our community.”

In other news:

  • Kenneth Sacavitch, Brian Foster and Anthony Lynn were appointed to sergeant in the police department.
  • In the fire department, Battalion Fire Chief James Poland was appointed to deputy fire chief, John Pihs, Jr. was appointed to fire captain, firefighters George Bundick, David Conti and Mathew Pacione were appointed to fire lieutenant and five additional people were appointed to the position of firefighter, while three more were appointed to the position of emergency medical technician.