Ordinance on large redevelopment plan passes

The project encompasses multiple blocks and lots within Mullica Hill

Joseph Metz / The Sun. The Harrison Township Committee reamended an existing redevelopment plan during their work session meeting on Sept. 5.

The Harrison Township Committee passed an ordinance at its work session on Sept. 5 that amends the Interior Richwood Redevelopment Plan, which encompasses a large portion of the township.

Several blocks and lots are part of the plan and sit in the interior Richwood area of Mullica Hill, around routes 55, 322, Richwood and Mullica Hill roads. The proposal encompasses 79 lots.

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The plan – viewable online at the township’s website – calls for residential and commercial development. The former will mainly be used for affordable housing. It is also an expansion of a plan introduced last year.

It is not a new plan, but one that has been reamended may times over the past.

Before the ordinance was passed, residents at a public hearing voiced their concerns about possible warehouses in the plan. For the past year, several people have spoken out against the idea of warehouses in Mullica Hill, claiming they are not viable for the community.

“This redevelopment plan does not just permit existing warehousing zoning, it vastly expands it,” said resident Sarah Zuba. “I understand the need and agree with it, to reconsider appropriate land uses in this area. And I applaud the affordable housing program.”

“But the designation of the large majority of this land as C55 – flexible planned commercial district – with no limitation on building size or type of warehouse use, represents the addition of almost 300 acres, I believe, of town property per development of millions of square feet of large-scale warehouses.”

Mayor Louis Manzo discussed at length how the township would not allow the construction of large warehouses such as the one seen along the Delaware River, and would not use eminent domain to enforce the new plan, a possibility raised by another resident.

“There is no intent for eminent domain to ever be used here by this body or anybody,” the mayor explained. “We know how everybody feels (about warehouses). We all feel the same way. We have a fiscal responsibility … and we have to make those decisions.

“But we’re not gonna just sign our life away and say, ‘Yeah let’s just help them,'” Manzo added. “All of a sudden, with the backdrop we just lived for the past year, say, ‘Oh yeah, just slap 2 million square feet.’ It’s never going to happen. I’m saying that I personally – I can only speak for myself – there is not a chance in the world I would support that.”

The other members of the committee said little during the hearing and seemed to agree with Manzo on the subject. The next committee meeting is a business session scheduled for Monday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m.

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