Harrison Township swears in three new police officers, takes official step to begin Richwood project

Thomas R. Watts, Morgan M. Gennetta and Alessio Rea were all hired as Class II Special Law Enforcement Officers (SLEO II)

Three new police officers were appointed to the Harrison Township Police Department at  the township committee meeting Nov. 18.

Thomas R. Watts, Morgan M. Gennetta and Alessio Rea were all hired as Class II Special Law Enforcement Officers (SLEO II). Mayor Lou Manzo individually swore in the three new officers. Family, friends, Police Chief Thomas Mills and other officers were present for the ceremony.

“They are coming on at a super great time, with our biggest community event in a few weeks with probably 6,000 people in town,” Mills said.

“We can use all the help we can get.”

Each of the young officers has previous experience in police departments: Watts previously worked in Ocean City, Gennetta in North Wildwood and Rea in Seaside Heights.

 Manzo gave a short speech welcoming the new officers.

“Our police department is something we’re very proud of,” he told them. “You’re now part of that. So we’re very proud to have you as part of the family.”

The committee also approved a resolution authorizing a settlement agreement with Fair Share Housing Center. In the last 18 months, the township has been involved in a settlement process with Fair Share regarding its affordable housing obligations. The two settled on a plan that would allow Madison Marquette — the development company in charge of the long-awaited Richwood project — to begin building, according to Manzo. 

The agreement comes after Madison Marquette objected the town’s original plan to build a certain number of affordable housing units in the project. The township worked with Fair Share to determine the total number of affordable housing units that are required to be built in the project area. They agreed upon 625 affordable housing units. The settlement also contained the required cost of infrastructure that Madison Marquette would have to pay.

Until the end of the year, there will be a series of resolutions by the township to organize amendments before a court date Jan. 7 that will officially approve the settlement. At that point, Madison Marquette will be able to move forward with the project.

“There’s a pretty good chance that, come spring, there will be dirt being moved out there,” Manzo said.