WOOLWICH TWP. — In a meeting on Dec. 18, the Woolwich Township Committee voted to approve the execution of a redevelopment agreement for the construction of a new warehouse on Oak Grove Road.
In a public session before the vote, seven residents of Belfiore Drive and Willow Pond Court raised their concerns about the ordinance and ongoing warehouse construction near their homes.
Concerns raised by the public included an increase in diesel exhaust emissions, protection of wetlands, traffic issues, and a strain on law enforcement.
Residents expressed discontent over the township’s lack of notice regarding warehouse construction plans, highlighting a recurring issue where they often learn about such developments from state departments rather than their local government.
In a passing 4-1 decision, the committee voted to authorize the execution of a redevelopment agreement with 2024 Oak Road, LLC, the first step in the approval process for the construction of a warehouse on that site. Deputy Mayor Dennis Callahan was the one member of the committee who voted no to the motion.
The resolution still must go through the township joint land use board, as well as county and state approvals, such as the Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Protections.
Committeewoman Natalie Matthias added that in 2024, the developer will be invited to deliver a public presentation on construction plans to make the logistical aspects clearer to residents. However, as a result of the vote, residents’ ability to oppose the warehouse construction will be restricted to specific aspects of the design and development plans, rather than the project in its entirety.
In addition to warehouse deliberations, 10 officers took oaths of office to the Woolwich Township Police Department in a swearing in ceremony at the committee meeting.
Giovanni Marino, Andre Oullette, and Matthew Motto were all sworn in as new patrolmen, while Thomas Daniels, Anthony Verrilli, Chris Beckett, Curtis Rucker, Kevin Agresta, Sean Sturgis, and Eric Petroski all received promotions.
“It’s truly historic. I don’t think we’ve ever sworn in this many officers in one night,” said Woolwich Police Chief, Joseph A. Morgan III.
During the ceremony, Mayor Craig Frederick spoke of the significance of Giovanni Marino’s oath. Marino is a third generation law enforcement officer, who follows in the footsteps of his grandfather, Russell Marino, the retired chief of Woolwich, and his father, Vernon Marino, the retired chief of Paulsboro.
“I don’t put any pressure on you to be chief, but don’t let your dad or your grandpa put pressure on you,” said Morgan.
The committee also discussed plans to alter, sign, and enforce new truck routes in the new year. Beginning in 2024, the only residential road in Woolwich Township that will continue to allow trucks is Pancoast Road, which runs between Kings Highway and Route 322 by the turnpike.
By Audrey Pachuta