by Robert Holt
WOOLWICH TWP. — During the Woolwich Township Committee meeting on Sept. 21, Director of Community Development Matt Blake announced that the State Bank Board approved $5 million for the community’s Transfer of Developmental Rights plans.
The money was contingent upon Woolwich Township cost-sharing at least $2 million toward the auction. Also, the State Agriculture Development Committee has to approve final auction mechanics and deed restriction language.
TDR programs are designed to encourage a shift in growth away from open space regions of a municipality to development designated areas. Landowners in areas where land use is restricted are allowed to sell their development rights. Development credits are given to sending area parcels based on pre-existing zoning and environmental restrictions and other criteria.
Purchasers of the development credits then may use them to build in a designated growth area at a higher density than is normally allowed in a town’s zoning ordinance. The State Bank aids the buying and selling of credits by acting as a clearinghouse.
The auction allows real estate companies to bid on developmental rights for the properties. Woolwich Township hopes to hold the auction before the end of the year, according to Blake. Woolwich has already given landowners the option to be placed on a registry of people interested in selling their credits.
And plans are in the works for Logan Township to extend its sewer treatment facility, erasing a big stumbling block to development progress. Logan Administrator Lyman Barnes commented, “Sewage treatment capacity has been a limiting factor for growth for years in Logan and Woolwich.”
Barnes added that companies looking to expand their facilities could buy the necessary capacity.
Elsewhere, Blake reported that the United States Department of Agriculture has approved Woolwich to enter into a 25-year agreement to receive payments for establishing and maintaining a grassland/wildflower meadow in a recreational trail system at the Palladino property and back fields at LaPalamento Park.
The LaPalomento Family Park is at High Hill Park on High Hill Road, while Palladino back fields are west of LaPalomento Park. The USDA will provide guidance in establishing the meadow, and is currently studying how to determine the proper seed mix.
Blake reported that Woolwich would receive an initial payment to install the meadow, and annual payments to maintain it. He also noted that the USDA’s approval could not have happened without the help of local resident and farmer Gary Stecher. Stecher provided crop history and other information.
In ordinances, the Committee approved the appropriation of $12,485 for Public Works equipment, and they authorized $375,000 for various 2015 road improvements by and in Woolwich Township.
The Committee tabled an ordinance that would amend part of the township code for Parks and Recreation. Increases in fees to children’s sports leagues for field usage would be involved, and representatives from local non-profits came to the meeting questioning the costs.
In resolutions, the Committee appointed Woolwich Police Sgt. Richard Jaramillo to the position of Police Chief. Mayor Sam Maccarone called it a “good, good decision, and wished Jaramillo luck on Jan. 1.”
The Committee also established and made appointments to a Green Team Advisory Committee. “Now we will obtain a bronze certification from Sustainable Jersey,” remarked Blake. “That will help us gain points on future grants.”
One member added was Dr. Richard Chapas, a University of Delaware professor who teaches a Sustainability/Green Business course.
In her school district report, Committeewoman Jennifer Cavallaro listed 1,729 students under enrollment in the Swedesboro/Woolwich School District which is under the total number previously projected for this school year, and an average classroom size of about 20. “School building projects are on hold for now, and may be considered later,” she added.
For Streets and Roads, Committeeman Jon Fein reported that they were able to secure salt for the area for 2016 at 2015 rates. “Winter is coming,” Fein forewarned. “But I hope we never have to use it.”