Woolwich Names Redeveloper for Redevelopment Zone

WOOLWICH TWP. — The Woolwich Township Committee adopted a resolution naming South State as the redeveloper for the Kings Landing Redevelopment Zone during their meeting on July 17.

Kings Landing, the regional center at Woolwich, is located at Route 322 near the New Jersey Turnpike. The plan was to create sewer infrastructure along the 322 corridor all the way to the Logan Township treatment plant, according to Mayor Alan Schwager. South State will build, design, and install the sewer infrastructure.

“South State approached us, and no one else has approached us,” he said. “They brought a unique concept of financial and construction methods to the table that has been crafted for Woolwich Township,” added Solicitor Mark Shoemaker.

Logan Township is expanding their plant to handle Woolwich. “We approved a resolution that made South State the redeveloper for that plan,” Schwager explained. “We could have hired an engineer and done it ourselves, then we would have to pay for it, and go out and get bids and permits.”

Schwager said that entire process takes about two years. “By us appointing South State as a redeveloper, they pay for everything, and it’s their responsibility to engineer permits and install the sewer infrastructure,” the mayor continued. “What we’ve done is streamline the whole process by appointing South State as a redeveloper.”

“South State now assumes the responsibilities at their cost, and it doesn’t cost our taxpayers any money. We probably shaved a year to a year and a half off the timeline,” Schwager concluded.

In other resolutions, the Committee established and made appointments to a Green Team Advisory Committee, and authorized a revised mutual aid and assistance agreement with Gloucester County. Also, they approved an elevation in the Woolwich Township Police Department, and the hiring of a Deputy Clerk.

Elsewhere, the Committee voted down a resolution that would have approved the township’s acquisition of farmland preservation development easements of lands. “We have an open space tax, but at this point we want to use that money to build infrastructure,” noted Schwager. “We have enough open space. We need to develop the open space that we already have. The residents want more ball fields and soccer fields, so we’re spending all our energy on building those.”

“This is not a good time for Woolwich to use our Open Space funding for preservation when we have many other projects in the works,” observed Director of Community Development Matt Blake.

Also, the Committee introduced an ordinance on its first reading that would establish a Parks and Recreation Committee.  “The Parks and Rec Committee has been there for a long time, and we made it a little more official,” Schwager explained. “I believe they redid their bylaws as well, and we endorsed those.”

Interim Park Director Michelle VanDiehl attended the meeting, suggesting changes to the language on some of the town’s field usage forms to make them more clear. VanDiehl also mentioned a community calendar, and expressed interest in holding a Farmer’s Market beginning in August.

In other reports, Kingsway Regional High School liaison Committeeman John Carleton mentioned that Senate President Steve Sweeney visited Kingsway in July to discuss the latest fair funding plan for lesser funded communities. The 2017-2018 school year for Kingsway was set to see its financial aid increased by $732,244.

That would bring Kingsway up to 48 percent of fair funding. Carleton noted that it was a step in the right direction. “In my opinion we still have a long way to go,” commented the Committeeman. “They have laid off 22 positions at Kingsway, but will be bringing back 10 of them with the additional funding.”

School aid is estimated to increase by $800 million overall for the 2018-2019 school year with the addition of a millionaire’s tax after a new governor takes over in January. That would increase Kingsway’s numbers to 76 percent of fair funding.

“Time will tell if this comes to fruition,” Carleton said. For his Christmas Parade report, Carleton listed Dec. 2 as the tentative date for the 2017 event.

In his Fire report, Deputy Mayor Frank Rizzi listed 68 percent of calls coming from Woolwich through June, and 32 percent coming from Swedesboro. Rizzi also noted that the 2016 audit was completed and has been accepted.

For Streets and Roads, Committeeman Jordan Schlump reported that the department was continuing daily maintenance on the athletic fields, and Buildings and Grounds were cutting open space property. In Zoning, Schwager listed 40 zoning permits shaving been issued by Woolwich in June.

In new business, the Committee accepted a bid from Think Pavers for the High Hill Road Shared Use Path Phase 1. Think Pavers was suggested by the engineer as the low bid that had been received.

by Robert Holt

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