Woolwich Approves TDR Bank Bylaws

woolwich webBy Jenny Cowan

WOOLWICH TWP. — At their meeting on Oct. 20, the Woolwich Township Committee approved a resolution to adopt the bylaws of the Woolwich Township TDR Bank board, with the amendment that a Township Committee liaison be appointed to oversee the actions of the Board.

The establishment of the Woolwich TDR (Transfer of Development Rights) Bank is a critical step in the TDR plan that would allow residents who own land in a development restricted area to sell the development value of their land to interested buyers who can then transfer the development potential to designated growth areas.

Matt Blake, Director of Community Development, explained that the TDR initiative is important in “advancing preservation and open space goals.” It is part of the township “smart-growth” approach, and the creation of a bank to issue land credits and handle transactions is crucial for the plan to move forward.

During the public portion of the meeting, Woolwich Township resident Joe Musumeci voiced concerns about the way the bank bylaws were written. Specifically, Musumeci was concerned that the qualifications for serving on the board were “too loose” and did not guarantee that board members would be knowledgeable enough to fairly deem the value of the land.

He also said that he was deeply concerned by an allowance in the bylaws for board members to appoint designees to stand in their absence. Designees would have full voting rights, but would not have to be appointed or approved by the Committee.

Musumeci said, “This allowance means that someone not elected by citizens or appointed by the Committee can determine the value of my land. Speaking as a taxpayer, I don’t like it.”

Blake was quick to respond. “Similar to the Joint Land Use Board and many other commissions, we will always look to professionals, following the guidelines of the state in a rigorous process.” He assured Musumeci that there had been a lot of oversight and guidance from the state and that the goal is to be transparent so that affected landowners always know what’s happening.

Committeewoman Jennifer Cavallaro and Deputy Mayor Alexander Elefante Jr. voiced their agreement with Musumeci, saying that a liaison from the Committee should be appointed to have oversight over the board. The Committee voted to approve the bylaws with the amendment to add a Committee liaison who would be responsible for board oversight.

After the meeting, Musumeci said that he was still concerned about the bylaws, but felt that the amendment to add a liaison was “better than nothing.”

In other resolutions, the Committee approved a resolution authorizing a renewal of shared solid waste collection and disposal between the township and the Kingsway Regional High School District. The Committee noted that this agreement would help to keep costs down and increase efficiency.

An ordinance to amend certain speed limits throughout the township was approved. Committeeman Nicholas Armano noted that Woolwich Twp. Police Chief Russell Marino was an integral part of the process, working road by road to ensure safe speed limits. New signs are being ordered and installed in the coming weeks for affected areas.

In his Community Development report to the Committee, Blake expressed his enthusiasm for the recent work of the Shade Tree Commission. On Saturday, Oct. 19 a group of volunteers from the Homeowner’s Association at the Reserve at Creek Run organized a planting event, which involved the installation of 230 trees and shrubs in the upper portion of a storm water management basin.

The Shade Tree Commission provided $14,900 for the project from the local Tree Replacement Escrow fund, which is paid into by developers when forest resources are cleared as a result of new development.

The reforestation project will provide host plants and a food source for butterflies and other struggling pollinator species. Blake said, “Projects like these create community.” He added that the Commission is advancing another, much larger, landscaping project at Kingsway Regional High School slated to begin in early November.

Deputy Mayor Elefante reported that the Woolwich Business Development Advisory Committee had created a new website for residents and businesses in the township choosewoolwich.com. The website hopes to attract new businesses and increase patronage of existing businesses.

Elefante added that website is currently marketing a “Shop Local Week.” Between Nov. 29- Dec. 6 patrons can shop at participating businesses, save five receipts, and be entered to win various prizes.

Maccarone gave an update on the upcoming first annual Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting set to happen on Dec. 6. He noted that a joint planning meeting including the police and fire departments had been productive, and that all of the fire trucks will be decorated for the family friendly event.

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