Mt. Laurel Council emphasizes community diversity

Approved resolutions include a month’s celebration of Jewish heritage.

Before going through the first reading of ordinances at its May 24 virtual session, Mt. Laurel council approved three resolutions to help continue building a collective community.

The first resolution commends the Kiwanis Club, a global volunteer organization that empowers members to come up with creative ways to serve the needs of children within the community. The club is a part of numerous projects that include sponsoring scholarships for students, partnering with the American Red Cross, and holding various soup kitchens and food pantries. 

Another resolution approved naming the month of May Jewish American Heritage Month, to celebrate contributions Jewish Americans have made to American history, society and culture over more than 350 years. 

Former President George W. Bush declared the month of May Jewish American Heritage Month in 2006. But Jewish communities continue to deal with bigotry and hatred, especially in light of recent and deadly hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians in the mid-East.

“I’m the only rabbi living in Mt. Laurel, raising my family here and so proud to be a part of this community,” Rabbi Benjamin David told council. “These have not been easy days for the Jews of our country and we appreciate the acknowledgment, the support, and the fact that we, as a Mt. Laurel community, support each other.”

Council also approved a resolution that will recognize the first Friday in June as National Gun Violence Awareness Day, a partnership with the organization Moms Demand Action to help bring awareness of gun safety to Mt. Laurel residents.

Mayor Stephen Steglik emphasized that all Americans deserve a safe environment where they can thrive without fear, and community safety is council’s highest responsibility.

“Gun violence is the number one public-health problem for the United States and we can do better, so I encourage everybody to wear orange on June 4 through June 6,” said Susan Anolik, a member of Moms Demand Action.

Township Manager/Clerk Meredith Tomczyk read through an ordinance involving the implementation of provisions in Mt. Laurel for cannabis businesses. Mt. Laurel resident Linda Bobo asked why the ordinance allows cannabis businesses to be placed 1,000 feet from schools, churches, and residential facilities rather than the original 2,000 feet discussed.

However, the ordinance never discussed for cannabis businesses to be placed 2,000 feet from schools, churches, and residential facilities. 

“We went through this with the planner and we mapped out the town. If you went 2,000 feet from all the residential churches, day-care centers, etc., you would actually create an ordinance that eliminates everything,” Solicitor George Morris replied. “If you eliminate it, you’re going to get sued and when you get sued, [cannabis businesses] are going to be allowed anywhere.”

The 1,000 feet distance means limited opportunities for cannabis businesses to come to town. A public hearing on the ordinance is set for June 14.

In other news: 

  • Council approved a resolution authorizing the township to apply for a state local recreation improvement grant, a competitive grant that supports improvement and repair of public recreation facilities.
  • An ordinance to provide various capital improvements and related expenses for the township had its first hearing. The public hearing date is  June 14.
  • An ordinance that amends chapter 154 of the township code to permit brewery-style uses that promote tourism and enhance commercial areas had its first hearing; the first public hearing is June 14. 

The next virtual council meeting is scheduled for June 14 at 7 p.m. To register or for more information, visit https://www.mountlaurel.com/government/meetings/council_meetings.php.