Council formally opposes roadway alterations for proposed super Wawa

Members also give final approval to fiscal year 2022 budget without tax hike.

Having heard consistent public outcry in opposition to a proposed super Wawa on the site of the Barclay Farms Shopping Center, Cherry Hill Township Council formally expressed its opposition to certain geographic alterations that would accommodate construction. 

Via a resolution at its Sept. 13 meeting, council expressed its displeasure with store plans to alter or eliminate a pair of grassy median strips on either side of Route 70, near the proposed construction site: one at the intersection of West Gate Drive, which enters the Barclay development, and the other at the intersection with Kingston Drive, the entrance to Kingston Estates.

Council’s objection was forwarded to the state’s Department of Transportation (NJDOT), which oversees the road design itself – and it will become part of the organization’s file on the matter. 

Richard Goldstein, legal representative for Hortense Associates LP, owners and operators of the shopping center, issued a letter to Council President David Fleisher earlier on the day of the meeting to offer his concern over the lack of transparency regarding the resolution, despite more than a year of discussion with township officials. 

“We were never provided with an opportunity to discuss with council why the proposed road improvements are so important to public safety,” Goldstein said during the meeting’s public comment. “I do not believe it is in the overall best interest of our community.”

“I know you have a record of being thoughtful and cautious in considering what is best for our township,” he added. “I respectfully ask you to pause before you approve this resolution.” 

In response to resident Martha Wright asking if the resolution was a symbolic gesture, Fleisher maintained the documents sent to NJDOT speak for themselves. 

Council member Carole Roskoph had to recuse herself from the Wawa matter, as she is the governing body’s representative to the planning board. A date for the proposal to go in front of the board has not been set. 

It’s official: For the 10th consecutive year, residents of Cherry Hill will see no increase in their municipal taxes. Mayor Susan Shin Angulo confirmed that fact at the council meeting during her customary remarks just prior to her colleagues’ approval of the budget for fiscal year 2022. 

“This budget represents our dedication to fiscal responsibility, as well as our commitment to continue strategic investments in our neighborhoods, our parks, our roads, public safety and other vital township services,” she noted. 

Total appropriations for the 2022 budget are expected to be just over $80.6 million, with $15.4 million earmarked for capital improvements. In addition, there is an allocation of $750,000 to replenish the COVID Rental and Mortgage Housing Assistance Program, whose initial allotment of $610,000 was quickly depleted due to high demand. An additional $300,000 will be earmarked for various public safety concerns. 

Concurrent with budget passage, the governing body also approved the establishment of a cap bank, as it does every year. 

“This budget does not exceed (its) cap. This is required to the extent that it does not exceed cap; it gets banked for any future years in the event that we ever did need to apply it,” explained Fleisher. 

In other news

  • Council issued a pair of proclamations: one to the township’s 10U baseball team, which won a Cal Ripken World Series title in August, and one to Erlton resident Susanne Bromke for her service to the community as head of the Erlton South Civic Association.
  • The township will receive a new and unused submersible pump, after council approved the contract in the amount of $29,681 to Xylem Water Solutions of Malvern, Pennsylvania.
  • Council approved a resolution to award a contract and provide plan and design immunity for the Phase 4 fiscal year 2021 reconstruction of Cherry Hill Boulevard to Asphalt Paving Systems of Hammonton, for an amount not to exceed $365,990.40.
  • Per another bit of unanimous legislation, the firm of Wade Long Wood and Long LLC,  of Laurel Springs, was named interim municipal attorney for a fee of $55,000 that effective Sept. 13, until council’s reorganization meeting in January 2022.