MICKLETON — At the East Greenwich Township Committee meeting on Oct. 9, Mayor Dale Archer announced that the community would be welcoming in three light industrial warehouses in the near future. He said that the projects would have over one million square feet between them.
Archer then gave a presentation introducing the community’s future projects. The mayor explained that these would be three separate units, each located away from residents on the 295 corridor. Matt Lange, owner and president of Interstate Aerials, has already purchased 60 acres of property off Democrat Road.
“We are going to inject over $1 million into East Greenwich’s tax revenues,” Archer asserted. “I don’t need to do anything extra. This is finally coming to fruition.”
“The projects have gone through their initial phases of design, and they’re looking to get these built quickly,” Committeeman Stephen Bottiglieri explained. “They’re looking to go before the zoning board before the end of 2018. A project doesn’t make you money until it’s built, and you get a tenant in there.”
“One project is across from the Mickleton Power Substation, near the intersection of Swedesboro Avenue and Harmony Road,” the Committeeman continued. “I believe that’s being built to suit. I don’t know if that will hold one or multiple entities.” Building to suit is when a developer builds a project to a tenant’s specifications.
“He plans to develop two warehouses at Timberlane and Huff Lane. Lange has three warehouses, and a smaller project,” Bottiglieri observed. “There’s a 300,000 square foot project, a smaller 100,000 feet project, and another large over 300,000 square foot project.”
“There’s a third site that we’re looking to get commercially developed, but we’re not as far along in the process yet. The first two are well beyond the idea stage. They’re into the planning stage.”
Over 100 people attended the meeting. “Most of the comments I heard were positive about the development of East Greenwich, and they were glad to see the ratables coming in to help with our town,” Bottiglieri commented. “It was nice to see East Greenwich residents come to the meeting, and it was nice to see the developer answer questions in an open and honest forum. It was a frank discussion with open dialogue, and people reacted well to that.”
Regarding questions from those in attendance, Archer said that developers still had to deal with high tension wires and wetlands. Also, they would be paying for their own infrastructure. Archer noted the companies would take care of their own sewer system.
“They’ll put a pump station in and run it like your own,” he observed. “It won’t cost us anything. We were good yesterday, but now we’re going to be great.”
Archer pointed out that East Greenwich has seen no tax increase in three years, and the Committee had built the town’s surplus up to nearly $2 million. “I’m proud of the accomplishments we’ve been able to do,” he related, “but I always felt like something was missing.”
Bottiglieri suggested “ratables.” Ratables are properties or buildings, especially used for commercial purposes, that provide high value tax income for a local government. East Greenwich has long been dominated by residential development, which does not sufficiently pay for government services or new school children who enroll locally.
Archer pointed out that an East Greenwich resident pays approximately $8,000 a year in taxes, but only $880, or 11 percent goes back to the township. Meanwhile, $1,920. (24 percent) goes to Gloucester County and $5,200 (65 percent) is allocated to the schools.
“Schools can’t sustain more houses,” Archer commented. We’ve been fighting for school funding for a long time, and a lot of people from Woolwich and Kingsway have stepped up. We want to make sure we sustain the future, and we’ve accomplished that.”
Archer insisted that this would be only the beginning. Regarding other companies, he said, “If you build it, they will come.” The mayor added, “The developers and I are going to make a hiring preference for East Greenwich residents. We’ve already made a hiring preference for East Greenwich veterans.”
“Can you imagine if we get to $4, $5 or $6 million? We’re at $1 million with three warehouses,” Archer contemplated. “The scale in this town has been heavily residential. Now it has begun to tip.”
Archer assured those in attendance that his plans will transform the financial landscape of East Greenwich Township forever.
Elsewhere, the Committee offered a moment of silence in memory of Sergeant First Class Samuel N. Giordano Sr., a veteran of 23 years with the East Greenwich Police Department.
He enjoyed coaching sports and was responsible for the building of the football field at Hidden Acres Park in Clarksboro.
Archer called Giordano Sr. “a true icon of East Greenwich Township.” He mentioned that he met Giordano’s son Sam on the Committee six years ago, and they became friends. Giordano Sr. passed away on Sept. 30 at age 68.
In discussion items, the Committee considered the creation of a “No Knock List” for their community. Archer explained that a local woman owns two pit bulls and has a “No Solicitation” sign on her door. “People knock anyway,” he said. “We want to send a message to these people not to come to our community.”
Solicitor Mark Shoemaker suggested that the “No Knock List” would be the best way to do it in a constitutional manner. Bottiglieri added, “I’ve had young people stop by my home without a permit or a license. This is not anti-business. This would be to protect our residents.”
In the public portion of the meeting, Christopher Fay of Mickleton maintained that no lights were on at the playgrounds in Thompson Park, mentioning that a lot of children played there at 6:30 p.m. on a Friday night.
Archer insisted that no one had asked for playground lights before, and he would check into it. “I would hate to see our township become a lightning rod for a constitutional rights lawsuit,” Fay said. “I worry about the liability factor for the township.”
— by Robert Holt