Since the Food & Water Watch held its launch event in April, the Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program has made significant progress.
With more than 2,000 signatures, its petition came before the Cherry Hill council and was introduced as an ordinance upon first reading on Nov. 22.
Acting Solicitor Howard Long explained that petitions gaining more than a certain percentage of people can be recommended to the council as an ordinance for consideration at a public hearing, or they can have a referendum to rescind an ordinance already in place. In this case, the former happened, and there will be a public hearing for it at the next council meeting on Dec. 7.
As The Sun previously reported, “The CCA program allows a participating town to purchase electricity at discounted bulk rates for residents, with an overall plan to achieve 100 percent clean, renewable energy no later than 2030.”
Multiple residents urged the council to approve the ordinance at its next meeting, when there will be a formal public hearing.
“Right now, Cherry Hill gets our electricity mainly from polluting fossil fuels that are worsening the climate crisis,” said petitioner and resident Susan Druckenbrod. “When we pay our electricity bills every month, a portion of our bill goes to the operation of these dirty energy sources.
“The science is very clear that we have to stop burning fossil fuels as soon as possible to avoid the devastating impacts of climate change,” she added.
Her sentiments were echoed by resident and petitioner David Stahl.
“This is something that could go to the voters next November, and inevitably it will pass,” he said. “So why waste valuable time waiting for the ballot box to determine what we already know will be the foregone conclusion, that we should obtain our energy from sources like wind and solar?”
Stahl noted that the creation of a renewable energy source program would not take away from consumers who decide they don’t want to use it, as they would be able to opt out.
Council also introduced an ordinance to adopt the amended Victory Refrigeration Redevelopment Plan for 110 Woodcrest Road that includes the planning board’s review and recommendation to permit Victory East’s section to be used for industrial, warehouse, distribution and office purposes. Victory West’s section will continue to be used for multifamily housing.
Planning board Solicitor Robert Melvin gave a presentation on the recommendation at the Oct. 4 planning board meeting. The board passed the resolution for the council to consider the amendment at its Oct. 15 meeting.
While the public hearing for the ordinance will not take place until Dec. 6, several residents pushed back on the idea during the regular public comment section. Martha Wright encouraged council to reflect on the original vision for the master plan and noted that the Woodcrest PATCO station was “a terrific opportunity to reduce vehicle dependency.”
“The original plan was to build residential, commercial, or a mixed-use facility there that would leverage the public transportation hub,” Wright noted. “ … Cost- effective transportation networks, such as public transportation, are a key part of the puzzle to attract new business and new residents to Cherry Hill, and to make Cherry Hill more viable today and in the future.”
The sentiment that the land should be used for transit-oriented development to reduce fossil fuel was echoed by Stahl and another resident, Rena Margulis.
“A warehouse would be the worst possible use of this land, which is absolutely precious to the people of this community,” Margulis argued. “By having transit-oriented development, we will make more money as a township and have less pollution for the 370 apartments.”
In other news;
- Council passed four bond ordinances on second reading designating millions of dollars to improve township equipment, technology equipment, parks and recreation sites, buildings, roads, sidewalks, traffic signal upgrades, storm drainage and sewers.
- Many council members shared their gratitude for the recent Unity event, which brought together people of different faiths and backgrounds and was held at the Temple Beth Sholom on Nov. 18.
- The township purchased a new John Deere Dozer.
During council’s report, councilwoman Sangeeta Doshi reiterated that the council is committed to sustainability and protecting the environment.
While originally scheduled for Dec. 13, the next council meeting has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 7.
This article has been updated to reflect the changes made to hold the next council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 7 rather than Monday, Dec. 6.