Land use restrictions and roads take priority in Shamong

Sale of Atco Raceway and an ordinance led to questions from resident at committee session

Questions about a newly adopted ordinance and the sale of Atco Dragway in Waterford Township were raised by two residents seeking clarification from officials at Shamong Township’s July 14 committee meeting.

The ordinance and the sale of the dragway piqued the interest of Justin Rottkamp and Megan Mozitis.

A review requested by the Land Use Board had the township committee revising Chapter 10 of the municipal code that extends the maximum size limits of an accessory building to alleviate the amount of variances sought by residents. Variances are needed to complete a project against land use regulations within reason.

“The (Land Use) board was making a suggestion that we increase that up to approximately 834 square feet, and if it’s specifically a three-car garage, it can be 865 square feet,” Township Solicitor Doug Heinold explained. “That may allow some people who want to pursue this to go ahead and do that without the need of a variance.”

Those who have sought a variance beyond the 834-square-foot limitation would raise further issues in getting an approval, Heinold said.

Rottkamp said the township’s code on structures requires they not exceed 20 percent of the primary building. For example, a detached garage from a 2,000-square-foot home cannot be any larger than 400 square feet, well under the township’s new regulation.

“That seems to me that to take full advantage of the increase in size, you would have to have a principal building of over 4,000 square feet,” Rottkamp said during the ordinance’s public hearing.

Township Clerk Sue Onorato said the Land Use Board met virtually about the ordinance, ruling that accessory heights be no more than 75 percent of the principal structure. Heinold shared his relief on the variance applications, but Rottkamp objected, saying they would only be applicable to large buildings.

“We anticipated that if after a year or six months they feel it’s not far enough, they can come back and ask for more tweaks,” Heinold concluded.

Mozitis alerted the township of the Atco Dragway’s pending sale, noting a plan to turn it into an auto auction similar to the Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown. Atco’s track is used for National Hot Rod Association events (NHRA).

Mozitis had concerns about tractor-trailer traffic diverting into Shamong and carrying large tons of loads to get to the dragway.

“They should be using state highways and county roads,” Township Engineer Dan Guzzi stated. “There are some limitations on local roads and bridges. But I think the major part of the road is a county road for Oakshade/Jackson Road.”

Drivers are instructed to enter the track by taking routes 30 and 73 in Camden County and heading down Jackson Road in Berlin Borough and Waterford Township. No traffic should shortcut into Shamong via Route 206 and township and Burlington County roads. If Shamong residents want drivers to adhere to that, they would need to request the state police (the township’s law enforcement) patrol Oakshade Road.

Mozitis inquired if Shamong could have a say in the track’s sale because of the possible inter-municipality impact.

“We don’t have any control over the county roads; we don’t have any say as a municipality over a land use issue in another town,” Guzzi noted. “We can certainly, if there was an application before Atco (Waterford Township), we can provide some input if needed.”

Shamong Township Committee took no action on the dragway. Its next meeting will be held Aug. 4. Details on the format can be viewed by visiting Shamong.net.