Last committee meeting has busy agenda

Issues included solar conversion of the Harris Landfill

Joseph Metz/The Sun.

The Harrison Township Committee conducted its final meeting of the year on Dec. 18, where it extended contracts to the police department’s command staff, adopted a new ordinance and bid farewell to Deputy Mayor Julie DeLaurentis.

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The meeting began with the committee’s endorsement of new three-year contracts for Police Chief Ron Cundy, Capt. Adam McEvoy and Lt. Dave Marro, all members of the police command staff. The contracts will go into effect on Jan. 1 and continue through Dec. 31, 2026.

“We are very pleased with this leadership team and proud to have the finest police department in the region, top to bottom,” said Mayor Louis Manzo.

The committee then approved an ordinance regarding a redevelopment plan for the Henry Harris Landfill, namely its conversion to a solar energy farm.

“The redevelopment plan is for a solar energy generation project on the 76-acre site and represents the final step of a 17-year process in properly closing and repurposing this property,” Manzo explained.

The landfill was active in the 1970s but was abandoned in 1980, according to the mayor. Ownership reverted to the township, but the landfill never officially closed, according to standards set by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The land sat for 25 years because the township lacked funding to properly close the landfill with DEP oversight.

Things began to change in 2005, when township resident Brian Horne – whose Stags Leap Ranch Development (SLRD) is in Mullica Hill – purchased the property for $10. From there, he worked with the DEP to properly close and monitor the site. Horne got the permit to begin the closure process in 2006.

Earlier this year, the DEP gave Horne’s business a properly closed designation letter to begin repurposing the land into a solar field.

“The success of this saga cannot be overstated,” noted Manzo. ” … We converted the environmental burden and eyesore of an abandoned landfill (into) a clean and monitored property with an environmentalist beneficial use.

“All of this done with zero cost to our taxpayers,” he added. “We applaud Mr. Horne and SLRD as we look forward to the solar field becoming a reality in the near future.”

The committee meeting closed with a thank you and farewell to fellow member DeLaurentis, whose term as deputy mayor concludes at the end of the year. She served in the position for six years and plans to continue serving Harrison as a volunteer.

“Julie set a standard of commitment for all of us to aspire to, and her dedication to this community will continue as she will remain active as a volunteer for various boards and commissions, as she did for 20 years prior to joining the committee six years ago,” Manzo said.

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