Proposed Woolwich warehouse raises concerns about proximity to elementary school

WOOLWICH TWP. – As Woolwich Township continues to grow, various warehouses, residential expansions, and retail sites have been approved and constructed within the last several years. However, Woolwich’s newest warehouse proposition, to be located next door to the Gen. Charles G. Harker Elementary School, is raising concerns about traffic, safety and how this proposal came to be in the first place

Several residents voiced their concerns at the Oct. 17 Woolwich Township Committee meeting about the warehouse’s proximity to the elementary school. Oldmans Industrial Park warehouse, proposed by Enhance Acquisition, would be located at 1366 Auburn Road and would surround two sides of Harker School located at 1771 Oldmans Creek Road.

“We have many concerns,” Woolwich Township Mayor Craig Frederick said. “Whether it be from a traffic perspective because of the busses as well as the normal traffic [and] obviously, its proximity to Harker.”

The residents inquired about the possibility of citizens retaining their own land use lawyer or if the municipality could purchase the land themselves. Although the latter is not a feasible option for the township, Woolwich’s municipal solicitor, Marla Gaglione, advised that community members are welcome to bring their own lawyers to the Nov. 3 Joint Land Use Board (JLUB) meeting where Enhance Acquisitions is scheduled to appear.

The proposed design of Oldmans Industrial Park would stretch the warehouse over 854,454 square feet. This includes 20,000 square feet of office space in addition to 150 loading spaces, 166 trailer parking spaces and 426 car parking spaces within the 70 acres of land this project would be placed on.

According to Frederick, Enhance Acquisitions initially approached the township to discuss the possibility of retail development in that location. However, in August 2022, the committee was surprised to be notified of a warehouse being proposed in that location.

At the same time, JLUB and the township committee was also in the process of reexamining Woolwich’s master plan, a document and policy meant to guide land use decisions and is responsible for the zoning classifications of Woolwich. Oldmans Industrial Park would be located in an area which, according to Frederick, had been zoned light-industrial since the 1960s. However, under the new proposed master plan, this same space would be rezoned for residential use.

“They put in an application as we’re going through this [rezoning] process,” Frederick said. “So although we’re trying to get the area rezoned because they have an application in place, it’s kind of grandfathered-in.”

Because of this, approving this location’s re-zoning would not eradicate Enhance Acquisitions’ current warehouse plans. However, Frederick notes that no one on the committee is in support of this warehouse’s construction.

“This proposed warehouse, although legally permissible by current zoning, this entire committee does not support this warehouse,” Frederick said. “At the end of the day, it simply does not belong in that location.”

By Berry Andres

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