Council President David Fleisher has announced an agreement in principle with the Gilmour family to preserve the 23-acre Holly Ravine Farm in Cherry Hill.
“My family appreciates the special place that Holly Ravine Farm and the Cowtail
Bar hold in so many people’s childhood memories,” Robert Gilmour said of the former dairy farm, in existence since 1925.
“Growing up and working on the farm for most of my life, I know what a special place it is,” he added. “We are thrilled that the property will be saved and remain as open
space for generations to come.”
Located at the intersection of Evesham and Springdale roads, the historic property gained attention in May and June after an outpouring of support to preserve and protect the open space rather than turn it into the senior-living community applied for in a zoning board application.
Residents jumped at the chance to advocate for the farm’s preservation. Leading up to the application – since denied – Cherry Hill resident Eric Ascalon created a Facebook group called Save the Holly Ravine Farm. Within 24 hours, more than 100 people had joined. Residents have remained vocal online about ways to preserve the space and the Facebook group now has more than 650 members.
Ascalon lauded both the residents who raised their voices and elected officials for a deal with the Gilmour family.
“This represents a huge victory for the community,” Ascalon noted. ” … We have reached maximum capacity in the township, and each new development has a negative impact on our environment, or quality of life, traffic, and safety.
“Our community is rife with redevelopment opportunities, and that’s where our township officials ought to steer projects, not to our dwindling acres of farmland, woodlands and open space.”
While the sales agreement is pending – approval is expected in another few months – more information should be available at upcoming council meetings, including the farm’s sale price. Fleisher is leading negotiations for the township, and he noted that the space is not actively being used as a farm, though there is some livestock on the property.
“The one thing we do know is that it will be preserved as open space, so no development will take place on the site,” Fleisher pointed out. “Exactly what type of potential passive uses will be the result of public input and some thoughtful planning, but the first priority was to protect the land. And that’s where we are today.”
Fleisher anticipates engaging the township’s environmental board and the public once the sale is completed. He added that while the township has the financial strength to complete the transaction on its own, it will pursue other funding avenues, including grants from the county and state. The anticipated price for the farm is consistent with the appraised value from two recent appraisals, he said.
“I know that it has been a treasured property in our town for a long time, and we said publicly that it would be ideal to preserve it as open space,” Fleisher related. “And I’m happy to say that the Gilmour family feels the same way, and we were able to have a meeting of the minds.”