Residents of Locustwood and surrounding neighborhoods raised complaints about a Cherry Hill Triplex car dealership at a council meeting last month, contending it has failed to comply with conditions set in 2020, when the planning board approved the business’ application to demolish two houses and add employee parking spaces.
It is not the first time complaints were heard: The application faced opposition from residents that spanned three previous planning board sessions two years ago, in August, September and October.
Cherry Hill Triplex could not be reached for comment.
As previously reported by The Sun, residents expressed many of the same frustrations with the dealership at council’s February session that they did at 2020’s planning board meeting and at another council session in April 2021.
They included the use of loud car alarms to locate vehicles and drag racing in area neighborhoods, both of which were supposed to be resolved when the planning board set conditions for approval of the dealership’s application.
The resolution approving the application noted that non-compliance by the Dodge dealer would result in the planning board revoking its consent. During the Feb. 27 council meeting, Dawn Higgins, council for the Cherry Hill Civic Association, reiterated this and asked that approval be rescinded. Her organization represents 22 township neighborhoods.
“No neighborhood should have to tolerate car alarms sounding all day every day or drag races on their neighborhood streets,” Higgins noted. “Nor should they have to worry about car carriers loading or unloading (in) residential areas, which create a real traffic hazard.“
Other frustrations raised during the council session included alleged harassment by dealership employees, an issue raised in 2020 and 2021, and trash thrown into the buffer of residential areas.
“The sincere hope is that we could use the acceptance of application with conditions as a vehicle by which real change and improvements could be made in the community,” said Councilwoman Michele Golkow at the session. “That was the sincere hope.”
Golkow served on the planning board during its initial hearing on the subject.
“And the plan was … to start the monthly meetings, to give you a police liaison, to require a liaison from Dodge and to have monthly meetings to create a dialogue to institute real change,” she explained.
Resident Alexander Esposito recalled what happened after the three planning board meetings, when “Mr. (Charles) Foulke (owner of Cherry Hill Triplex) became very agitated and cut us off through the Zoom meeting.
“Then it was determined through communication facilitated through members of local government that we can’t move forward with the meetings,” Esposito added.
Following the council meeting, Fleisher and council Vice President Brian Baurle met with residents of Locustwood and told them the township is still actively investigating the complaints and discussing available options with its legal team.
“There’s no mistaking the frustration and the pain that’s associated with the current situation,” Fleisher acknowledged. “I think there’s things that the council has assumed has been taking place which has not. That is not acceptable.”
The next council meeting will be on Monday, March 13, at 7:30 p.m.