Township council agrees to table ordinances at request of residents

Measures provoke discussion on businesses and sustainability

For the first time in a long time, Gloucester Township Council has tabled an ordinance during a council meeting.

First introduced on May 10, the ordinance was presented for its second reading and public hearing on July 12, then put on hold. It was created to amend and update a land-development measure by including guidelines for creating plug in electric vehicle charging stations. The ordinance set the specifications that charging stations would have to meet, and allowed for them to be built on both residential and existing nonresidential properties without having to first go through the planning board.

During the public hearing on the ordinance on Monday, mayoral candidate Joe Damico raised concern over the subsection of the ordinance, which states that “all land development applications providing at least 100 parking spaces shall include electric charging stations … providing at least one electric vehicle space for 50 every non-electric parking space,” and that “parking spaces for electric vehicle charging stations shall be included in the overall number of required spaces.”

“If we’re going to try and entice businesses to come into town, how are we going to do that by making it more restrictive?” Damico asked. He suggested it would make more sense to partner with businesses like Wawa that already provide fuel for cars, but that it didn’t make sense for the town to make stations a requirement for all incoming businesses when many people already charge their cars at home. He concluded by urging the council not to pass the ordinance, a sentiment that was echoed by residents  Paul Krug, Brian Burns and Ray Polidoro.

In response to the questions, Ken Lechner from community development explained that the subsection was likely put in to fulfill one of the requirements to reach the Gold Star Standard for Sustainable New Jersey. As part of the guidelines found on Sustainable Jersey’s website for creating ordinances friendly to electric vehicles, the organization does suggest creating an ordinance that includes a minimum number of charging stations required for new developments. Though the guideline does not specify an exact number, it gives an example of 2 to 6 percent of total parking spaces to be designated for charging.

Lechner also clarified that older businesses would be grandfathered in and wouldn’t need to meet the charging requirement if the ordinance is passed. He said Blue Sky Power or the mayor’s office would have more answers.

When it came to a vote, Councilwoman Tracey Trotto made the motion to table the ordinance until next week, and was seconded by Andrea Stubbs. The motion was approved in a 4 to 1 vote, with President Orlando Mercado voting not to table it, and Michael Mignone and Dan Hutchinson absent.

 

In other news;

  • The New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety awarded Gloucester Township $300,000 of the Body Worn Camera Grant to cover the cost of the cameras and data storage.
  • The council passed resolutions to purchase a forklift, backhoe and leaf machine for the Department of Public Works
  • Council was awarded funding by the state to move forward with the Green Acres Project Agreement, in which the township will purchase, assess and restore natural resources at the Roselin Bridge property on Erial Road. The property had previously been damaged by a discharge from the Chemical Leaman Superfund.
  • In response to a public comment, Lechner noted that the public would be given an opportunity to comment on the Blackwood redevelopment plans once they  get to the planning board, but that there are currently no plans for the public to comment prior to that stage. Mercado suggested holding a charrette, a meeting where all stakeholders of a project attempt to resolve conflicts and map solutions..

 

The next council meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 26, at 7 p.m., at the Gloucester Township Municipal Building, 1261 Chews Landing-Clementon Road. It will also be livestreamed on YouTube.