A group of about 200 residents packed the Gloucester Township municipal building for a regularly scheduled zoning board meeting on Sept. 28 to discuss proposed warehouses in Erial.
The building was at capacity as residents lined the walls and a group of spectators had to listen from the hallway. Since that session, there have been two meetings scheduled on the topic, but the proposal was scratched hours before both sessions.
The township has cited “attorney conflicts” for the delays, angering citizens who want answers on the issue from township administrators and zoning board committee members. Township council held a special meeting on Nov. 8 to read an official ordinance that would amend a land development ordinance in the township, the county and the state to allow warehouse, distribution, and fulfillment centers at permitted uses in certain zone and redevelopment areas.
Some township residents maintained the delays are meant to discourage them from attending the meetings, but one of them, Elizabeth Scanzello, believes the delays enable the community to better prepare the case they will bring to the zoning board.
“I think the meeting could get delayed 10, 20 times and people would still show up,” she said. “(There are) people who are anxious and a little nervous to go before the board; this gives them (the opportunity) to nail their argument.”
The “arguments” Scanzello mentioned are on behalf of the many residents who disapprove of the warehouse proposals. They have cited their fear that an estimated 700 trucks a day and upwards of 1,300 cars belonging to warehouse employees would make the township an undesirable place to travel.
In the Facebook group No Warehouses in Erial, residents have shared their displeasure and frustration, and on Nov. 10, Lisa DelRocini posted a picture of a traffic jam.
“This was on Crosskeys Road … near Sam’s Club,” her message said. “Backed up the length of the roadway to Acme because of a broken down tractor trailer. Hmmm let’s add hundreds more per day and see how well that goes.”
Resident Paula Turse, who commutes to Philadelphia, is worried the highway exits will be too congested when the project is complete.
“On the Black Horse Pike, there’s only two lanes, and if you’re blocking one lane with traffic trying to get onto Sicklerville Road, you only have one road on the … pike that’s able to get by,” she noted.
“It just makes no sense, no sense at all.”
Resident Brian Burns has handed out flyers to residents that address the meeting delays, pointing others to the opposition Facebook page for updates. A new zoning board meeting has yet to be scheduled, Burns’ message said..