Gloucester Township Council met Monday, Oct. 28 at the Gloucester Township Municipal Building, discussing both agenda items and residents’ concerns regarding the rise in taxes in recent years.
On the consent agenda, a resolution passed by council authorized the signing of a temporary agreement between the township and PT Consultants, Inc. to perform “under ground environmental testing” on land within Gloucester Township.
When resident Sam Sweet asked for additional information, solicitor David Carlamere said the township does not own the land that will be tested.
“We received a request [in the Department of Law Office] to allow PT Consultants, Inc. to enter into ground owned by the township of Gloucester, because there is contaminant on property nearby that is not township property,” Carlamere said.
Instead, in order the fulfill EPA testing requirements, Carlamere says the environmental consultant company has been directed to test ground areas surrounding the contaminated area, which requires approval by the township for temporary access to use township land to get to the areas it plans to test.
With the resolution, PT Consultants, Inc. has been granted access to Cherrywood Drive Park and stated that any disturbance to the park’s grounds are expected to be replaced.
“It’s at no cost to the town and it’s not the town’s property that has the contaminants. They’re just seeing if the plume extended to other properties,” Carlamere added.
During public portion, resident Richard Szerbin said he was “motivated” to come and speak to council during its meeting after the shooting that took place in the Sicklerville section of Gloucester Township late on Wednesday, Oct. 23.
“Brittany Woods, in general, has been sort of a sore spot for the township. Are there any plans to maybe generate a bigger police presence or somehow control what goes on in there a little bit better?” Szerbin asked.
Council president Orlando Mercado pointed to the work the Brittany Woods Community Action Group has been able to do in recent years, creating a “tremendous rapport” with the community policing aspect of the Gloucester Township Police Department, in helping to make the community safer.
According to Gloucester Township Police Department captain Anthony Minosse, who also spoke at the meeting, the department is preparing to increase its presence in the area moving forward.
“We do a number of things regarding the community. We do send out our Community Outreach truck and vehicle and officers,” Minosse said. “We also want the parents to come out so it’s more than just the kids. Everybody thinks it’s about games and playing with the kids, but it’s not. It’s about interacting with the community so that has definitely been scheduled to go out there again in upcoming weeks.”
Minosse also said increased police enhanced operations are expected to be around the Brittany Woods section of Sicklerville in the near future.
Also speaking during public comment was Paul Krug, who requested an explanation as to why taxes have increased for residents in recent years despite new businesses coming to Gloucester Township. Krug said he recently received a flyer in the mail advertising for the four democratic candidates on the ticket for Gloucester Township Council in this year’s election, which he felt was misleading because it said they help “stabilize” taxes.
“How are the businesses… in the township stabilizing taxes when over a three-year period we saw a 12 percent increase in the taxes levied against us?” Krug asked.
Mercado said businesses that have come to Gloucester Township over the past 15 to 20 years have helped to “ease the burden” on residential taxpayers, despite occasional pushback from residents when shopping centers or businesses enter some residents’ communities.
“None of us would like to see a tax increase, but the cost of doing business in our town goes up yearly,” Mercado said.