The Mt. Laurel Township Council held a regular meeting on the evening of Monday, Nov. 18, where a resolution was passed designating Delco Development LLC as redeveloper for a portion of the redevelopment zone known as the Route 38, Ark Road and Fostertown Road Redevelopment Area.
During the meeting, representatives from the Willingboro-based real estate firm, including President Tom Juliano and attorney Richard Hoff, presented the firm’s tentative plans to develop a portion of the redevelopment area with residential and commercial units, including 120 age-restricted rental units.
The portion of the redevelopment area discussed at the meeting lays along Route 38 and consists of approximately 67 acres of land.
According to Hoff, the redevelopment area was first designated as such in 2018. The first iteration of the redevelopment plan called for a mix of commercial and residential units and has since been amended to include age-restricted affordable housing units.
“That was something that had been identified as a potential goal of the redevelopment plan at the outset but it was never really incorporated into the plan itself. The plan being proposed tonight does in fact include affordable age-restricted units,” Hoff said.
The rest of the development plan consisted of a mix of townhouses, multi-family residential units and lots reserved for future commercial development.
According to Hoff, he has been working with the township’s economic development team to identify potential tenants for these commercial-use lots. He described this portion of the plan as “a work in progress.”
“We have some good leads on what we believe will be compatible commercial uses along the frontage of the property,” Hoff said. “Obviously this development will go through the normal channels of planning board review, but at the redevelopment stage we wanted to come here tonight to present the council with just the overview of what we anticipate the final product to be.”
Following the presentation, Mayor Kurt Folcher inquired as to the fate of a longstanding, “iconic” tree located on the property that residents had brought up to him in conversations about the redevelopment area.
Hoff referred to the concept plan which included a large green icon on the property representing the tree in question. The project, he assured the public, is being planned around the tree, which will remain a “focal point” of the property.
During public comment, resident Margaret Iannuzzi expressed concern over how much open space is being included in the redevelopment plan and how the project will impact the welfare of wildlife currently residing on the property.
“They’re God’s creatures and they’re destroying them. They aren’t going to have anywhere to go,” Iannuzzi said.
According to Folcher, the township’s affordable housing obligations mandated by the state is the driving force behind this project and its location.
“Mt. Laurel is the tip of the spear for this; every town in the state of New Jersey is going to have to deal with this affordable housing component,” Folcher said.
The mayor encouraged Iannuzzi and any residents who share her concerns to contact their state representatives.
The next phases of this project will be an item of discussion during future planning board meetings. The next meeting of the Mt. Laurel Planning Board is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Mt. Laurel Municipal Center.
The next regular meeting of the Mt. Laurel Township Council is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. at the Mt. Laurel Municipal Center.