Look What's New and Still Coming

Shopping Extravaganza on Berlin-Cross Keys Road

Sicklerville has been experiencing over the last year - a big, new shopping destination along Berlin-Cross Keys Road.  People are there to shop instead of going to Deptford!

Large SUPERSTORES such as Target and Lowes anchor Michael's, Pet Smart, and Circuit City at the Town Square Plaza.  Also at this complex are Sleepy's, Chick-Fil-A, Applebee's, and a Super Wawa.  This adds to an already established center with the Acme and strip and pad stores, plus the Megha/Dunkin Donuts complex near Sicklerville Road.

Expanded roadways and new traffic signals have helped ease traffic through this area.

Stores at the Strawberry Square center nearby on Sicklerville Road are an added bonus to an area that had hardly any commercial properties just a few years ago.

Plans for new shopping complexes are coming along Cross Keys Rd around the Expressway & Johnson Rd.   Six stores at the Cross Keys Retail Center are completed & 14 stores at the Crossings at Twin Oaks are under construction.

The big news is the Shoppes at Cross Keys, next to the Expressway.  Over 30 shops and restaurants are about to be started in a setting similar to the Promenade in Marlton.

The mayors of Gloucester Township and Winslow Township welcome the new stores.  "These business have increased job opportunities and allow residents to shop in-town", said Gloucester Township's mayor.

County Officials to Press for Safety at Cross Keys Road Areas

Mayor Cindy Rau-Hatton of Gloucester Township has attended numerous meetings with Winslow and Camden County officials to review the commercial growth and traffic impact on Cross Keys Road.

The plans for the expansion of the Expressway bridge are in the design phase by the SJTA.  Traffic studies are also being completed to see if and where new lights will need to be installed in the area between Sicklerville Road and Johnson Road, including at the new shopping center entrances.

Gloucester Township can turn GEMS into an asset

The Superfund site could find new life as a solar energy station, and provide discount electricity to the township.

Gloucester Township officials should seize the opportunity to turn the contaminated GEMS landfill into a green energy site.

Gloucester Township has two developers interested in installing solar panels at GEMS to produce clean electricity. In both cases, the township would benefit by having access to discounted electricity.

Yet, we agree with Mayor Cindy Rau-Hatton that this project should be privately financed. Sean Angelini, who represents a Washington Township-based contractor and engineering firm, is seeking $16 million to install solar panels on about nine acres of the 25-acre site. Angelini could receive state grants to offset some of the project's cost, but also would need help from the township.

In these tough times, the township might find it more prudent to encourage Angelini to find private financing.

Fortunately, the township also has a proposal from a Washington, D.C.-based developer who apparently does not need local funding. Dale Barnhard has proposed a $40 million solar-energy project, which includes leasing GEMS property from the township and paying for necessary government permits. Like Angelini, Barnhard would offer the township discounted power.

Of course, as Township Council President Glen Bianchini points out, details matter. The size of the discounts over time must be considered along with any costs to the township.

Still, it is a good place for Gloucester Township to find itself -- faced with two proposals to turn its highly contaminated GEMS landfill into a green-energy field that could save taxpayers a lot of money long term.

We urge township council to act quickly on these proposals so the chosen developer, or developers, can take advantage of expiring state grants that help make the proposed projects financially possible.

District five to cover Lakeland

GLOUCESTER TWP. - Gloucester Township fire district five's coverage area now, officially, includes the Lakeland area.District five, which is serviced by the Lambs Terrace Fire Company, had been covering the area on a temporary basis, but following last month's actions of the Gloucester Town ship council the status was changed to permanent.

Gloucester Township's council voted to extend the coverage area to include Lakeland, but Mayor Cindy Rau-Hatton vetoed the ordinance. On March 8, the council held an emergency meeting where they overrode RauHatton's veto by a vote of 6-1. The lone opposing vote was made by Councilwoman Shelley Lovett.

The disagreement on the issue of Lakeland fire coverage centers around money. The Blackwood Fire Company, which is closer to Lakeland than Lambs Terrace, said that they would take on the coverage of the area, but would need monetary compensation to do so.

Lambs Terrace, however, was willing to continue its coverage without receiving any additional funding.
"I think that all of our fire companies do a great job, but I do think that [for] taking over the Lakeland facility that Lambs Terrace should be compensated. Somewhere down the road that will cost the residents of that fire company more money," Lovett said.

" Things might be working well now, but with the increased development on Cross Keys Road and the increased development in Lakeland, I think there could be problems down the road that are unforeseeable."
In an official statement vetoing the original fire coverage vote, Rau-Hatton said:
"It was stated that Lambs Terrace has been covering for the last 18 months. However, no evidence or study was presented to coverage when Lakeland is fully developed and the Berlin-Cross Keys Road corridor is built out."

"This came up a year ago, and the council had many concerns," Mayor Rau-Hatton said in a telephone interview. "It was put off. After this fire election, it came back up, [and] those concerns were never addressed. My main reason [for vetoing the ordinance] is that I think it should be studied. Those same concerns still exist."

The questions and concerns Rau-Hatton has about coverage in Lakeland includes issues of public safety due to the distance of district five from Lakeland, and what happens when Lambs Terrace and Cross Keys Road are fully developed.

Council President Glen Bianchini said that the 18-month period proved that district five could provide fire coverage for the Lakeland area, and that the issue of future development should be dealt with when it happens.

"The 18 months proved that they can handle it, and they can do it. The major question at that point was who is going to pay for the water and the rental of the fire hydrants, and the county said that they would pick that cost up. That's all part of the ordinance. With that, there is nothing new that the Mayor presented in opposing this, so it was in our opinion that the veto should be overridden," Bianchini said.

"Let's say there is the buildup and there is a problem, and Lambs Terrace can't do it for whatever reason. Then we can go in and change [the ordinance], and it would go through the same process."

Neither side seems to be able to agree as to whether the coverage of Lakeland by Lambs Terrace will cost the tax payers money.

"To say that it doesn't cost anything is erroneous. The moment that fire truck leaves the apron it costs that fire company money. I know it for a fact. I was 12 years involved in Blenheim Fire Company. That's a fact." Rau-Hatton said.
"No study was done, it's a longer distance, nobody is saying if they can handle it for the future when it is fully developed, so I just think that all of those questions that were asked a year ago that were never answered should have been answered before anybody voted."

After speaking to George Brown, the chairman of the district board of fire commissioners, which has a shared service agreement with district five, Bianchini said the cost to the tax payers would remain minimal.

"The commissioner in district six said that he thought it would cost less than a dollar to each tax payer. There is really no additional expense to the district," Bianchini said.

"We've been doing it for 18 months, and it hasn't cost us anything," District 5 Chairman Barry Engelbert said. "The bottom line is it's .8 calls a week, and that counts the calls where we pull out of the driveway and they call us off and we turn around and go back. I would say [the cost] is nothing."

"We have plenty of trucks and plenty of people. If there is a fire in Lakeland and a fire on Garwood Road, we can take care of both of them."

It remains to be seen whether or not the increased development in Lakeland will cause problems for district five, or whether district five's coverage will cost taxpayers in the end, but one thing is clear: Lakeland coverage remains in Lambs Terrace

Glo. Twp. considers solar energy

GLOUCESTER TWP. Township officials are considering a $40 million proposal from a Washington, D.C., developer interested in installing a field of solar panels atop GEMS Landfill on Erial Road.

Dale Barnhard, a renewable energy project developer, said Monday he is proposing building a solar field consisting of dozens of solar panels atop long poles throughout the 25-acre landfill to collect and convert energy from the sun.

Barnhard, who works with several different national and international energy companies, said the project would generate electricity which could be sold to area institutions, such as Camden County College, or to the power grid for profit.

The timing, Mayor Cindy Rau-Hatton told township council at a workshop meeting Monday night, is crucial because the state of New Jersey is offering grants, rebates and credits to companies and institutions interested in pursing solar energy.

If Barnhard were to install the solar panels, he could sell the electricity to local industries while also earning Solar Renewable Energy Certificates, which are credits given by the state that can be sold to electric suppliers who are required to invest in solar energy.

In turn, the township would earn revenue by taxing the company and also by leasing the property to Barnhard, Rau-Hatton said. The township might also save money by purchasing electricity from the local generator rather than the regional power grid.

"Originally, they were referred to Winslow, but for whatever reason it didn't work out and they're interested in coming here," Rau-Hatton told the council, urging members to act "expeditiously."

"This could be a ratable, but also a constant revenue, not a one-time hit," she added.

Councilwoman Crystal Evans, who worked for years as a legislative aide for the 4th Legislative District, said she is pursing additional grants to supplement the project.

"We first talked about this six years ago," former Councilman Gene Lawrence said at the meeting. "The savings for the township is tremendous, the revenue flow is tremendous, and the energy savings, that's tremendous. We should pursue green technology."

Reach Meg Huelsman at (856) 256-3345 or