A new 185-unit townhouse community could be built in a redevelopment area in the township's Sicklerville section.
The proposed residential development would be built behind Town Square Plaza—a shopping center located along the 400 block of Cross Keys Road and anchored by Target and Lowe's—but the developer must first garner a series of approvals from the Township Planning Board and Council.
The first step is to build consensus among various officials that a shift from the redevelopment plan's initial focus is a good thing for the township.
That process got underway during Monday's Council work session.
Council President Glen Bianchini is anxious to see the project move forward after he and other members of Council joined the developer and concerned residents for a series of meetings.
"I want that to continue and I want that to continue in an expeditious way, so that we are moving this along in the proper manner and it's not sitting on anybody's desk, it's not being held up," he said. "I want the residents out there to be informed of how it's going along, so that they can continue to be a part of the process."
The vacant plot of land, known as the New Vision redevelopment area, sits behind the Lowe's end of the Town Square Plaza shopping center, according to Ken Lechner, the township's director of community development and planning.
Plymouth Meeting, PA-based Newman Development Group LLC, which was responsible for bringing Town Square Plaza to Gloucester Township, owns the New Vision redevelopment area.
Township officials are expected to consider amending the redevelopment plan for the roughly 20-acre plot of land.
It is anticipated Newman Redevelopment Group will present a revised plan to the Township Planning Board sometime in January. The Planning Board would consider the proposal, then potentially forward an amended redevelopment plan to the Council for adoption as an ordinance.
Newman Redevelopment Group would then have to seek a series of site-plan and other approvals before construction could begin.
The initial New Vision redevelopment plan called for commercial or light-industrial uses on the land, but area residents stood opposed to more development of that kind in their backyards.
"We're never going to please everyone, but I really believe that this is a result of many, many discussions," Newman Development Group LLC principal David Newman said during his discussion with Council members and township professionals Monday night. "There were so many ideas that were thrown out, but this was the one that was universally accepted."
A series of meetings were held with residents of the Wye Oak development, which is located nearby the New Vision redevelopment area. Those residents opposed uses permitted under the initial redevelopment plan, as well as another potential residential use, officials said.
"The residents came to an agreement that the townhomes would fit nicely, would fit better, than any light industrial (use), which could have been put there, or apartments, which could have been put there," Bianchini said.
"I think the process worked. I think we got the residents involved," he added. "We didn't say, 'This has to go there.' As Orlando stated, there was a lot of give and take, and a lot of patience. Sometimes, we all got angry, and other times we continued to work at it."