The most discussed plan was for an Asian-style garden and park. But according to township Administrator Larry Spellman, the project fell through years ago due to a lack of funding.
Since then, the former Superfund site has been remediated over time, including the 2005 installation of impermeable caps to prevent rainfall from reaching its underlying layers. The landfill, Spellman said, contained only municipal waste from its opening in 1966.
The township-owned portion of the property, now named the Voorhees Environmental Park, has a less intensive cap of its own below the surface, which prevents the township from drilling more than 2 feet into the ground.
Now at the start of a new decade, the township has moved forward with plans to make use of the land at Voorhees Environmental Park. Last month, the plans passed first reading of an ordinance that would authorize a solar PV generation system at the site.
“We’ve had several people come to us with ideas for solar panel projects over the past several years,” Spellman acknowledged.
He said the solar panel project would take up approximately 14 acres of land, of which Voorhees Township has a total of 38 acres. The panels would generate 3.5 megawatts of power, the largest amount of power Atlantic City Electric is able to receive into its grid, unless improvements are made in the near future.
In the agreement with Pennsylvania-based Solar America, the township is to receive $750,000 up front once the project is fully constructed and solar panels are up and running. That will be followed by $50,000 per year for five years, a total of $1 million in township revenue.
Spellman said the township committee’s main concern is to ensure Voorhees receives its full compensation for the project over the full lease, a period of 20 years, with two optional five-year extensions.
The township is hopeful construction will be complete by the end of this year. The solar panel project is not expected to be visible from Centennial Boulevard or any other township roads, with vegetation buffers used to block it from public view.
Second reading of the ordinance is expected at the Voorhees Township Committee’s next meeting, Monday, March, 9, at the town center.