Harrison Township committee approves redevelopment ordinance at meeting

Project on school’s west campus a joint venture with two other towns

JOSEPH METZ/The Sun. The Harrison Township Committee approved an ordinance that amends its part of a three-town joint redevelopment plan for a wellness village at Rowan University.

The Harrison Township Committee has approved an ordinance that amends an existing redevelopment with Mantua and Glassboro for a section of land on Route 322 that will become a wellness village for Rowan University students.

The first reading for the ordinance occurred at the committee’s Feb. 21 meeting, with a public hearing at the session earlier this month.

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The project is located near the Inspira Medical Center of Mullica Hill, which sits on Route 322. 

“We did a joint redevelopment plan, which basically created an overlay on top of the zoning, the underlying zoning,” said Mayor Louis Manzo. “Everything on Rowan west campus is an institution because it’s owned by Rowan. This would allow for that project to be built.”

The project started in 2019 but was put on hold after the company responsible for the engineering and construction backed out. The necessary permits had already been approved, and input from Rowan University President Ali Houshmand enabled the project to continue.

“It’s a great idea actually,” Manzo acknowledged. “A wellness village, which is basically both educational and supportive of people with disabilities and so forth. So, they came up with the idea in the summer of putting out an RFP (request for proposal) for those southern parcels (of land) behind the (college) turf fields.”

Manzo added that an approved use in the Rowan project is a warehouse, given that the company involved in the project, Gopuff, is classified as a warehousing company.

The project is a big deal for Harrison, where residents opposed another warehousing project from Russo Development in December. They packed the township municipal building at a Dec. 1 joint land use board meeting, causing a decision to be delayed until Dec. 15, when the board ultimately voted no.

Manzo assured residents that the township will take a stand regarding any potential warehouse placements.

“We’re amending our portion of the redevelopment plan to extract a few uses,” he explained. 

Besides warehouses, prohibited uses will include limited industrial uses, a mail order merchandise facility, and recreational or entertainment-related projects for the regional sports program, which is really about parking lots and shuttles.

“We’re removing those uses from the redevelopment plan so that if Rowan gets back proposals and there is a warehouse proposal of any kind in that, they can’t build it,” Manzo said.

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