(Cherry Hill, N.J.) – In response to the First Montgomery Group's appeal of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s decision to continue to exclude the Woodcrest Country Club from the Township sewer-service area, Mayor Chuck Cahn, Township Council President David Fleisher, and the members of the Cherry Hill Township Council today issued the following statement in support of the DEP decision.
“Mayor Chuck Cahn, Council President David Fleisher, and the members of the Cherry Hill Township Council wish to reiterate our position regarding the future of the Woodcrest Country Club property.
Let us start by being very clear: We stand firm in our commitment to fight and do everything in our power to keep this site from being developed.
We will not allow any development on the Woodcrest Country Club property. This 165-acre site must be preserved as open space for future generations.
First Montgomery’s contention that the golf course was only recently removed from the Township’s sewer-service area is contrary to fact. The property has been excluded from the proposed plan for years, which First Montgomery knew prior to its bid. The Township and the County repeatedly indicated before the auction that development was not appropriate on this site, in part because there was no sewer service available.
Shortly after purchasing the land, First Montgomery indicated that it intended to “maintain the integrity” of the property and that its owners “value[d] Woodcrest Country Club’s historical ties to the community.” At that time, First Montgomery represented publicly that its short- and long-term goal was to keep the property as a golf course. (Read the press release they issued three days after the May 20 auction here: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/5/prweb10763924.htm.)
What First Montgomery failed to disclose at the time was its plan to seek a change to the sewer-service area so that it could develop the property – a plan that has since become apparent.
Now, First Montgomery is trying to convince the DEP that the property contains only a small amount of environmentally sensitive areas of wetlands. We will challenge any finding of this nature, as we know the property’s environmental and historical importance goes beyond just a mere measure of wetlands.
First Montgomery has continuously tried to deceive the public as to its true intentions. Now that First Montgomery's deception has been revealed, we want to assure you that we will continue to fight, on every front, to protect and preserve one of our community’s largest and last remaining pieces of open space, and prevent development of this historically significant and environmentally sensitive property.
We have continuously reiterated our position to First Montgomery, as recently as last week, in plain and straightforward language: We will not allow any development on the Woodcrest Country Club property, period.
We are not taken in by First Montgomery's disingenuous appeal, and we are hopeful that the Court will recognize First Montgomery's self-serving actions as an attempt to improperly develop land that should stay green forever.
The Mayor and Council stand united in this effort, and we ask that the residents of Cherry Hill stand strong with us to help protect one of the last green spaces in Cherry Hill. We assure you that we will not go away. We will not give up. We will not back down. We will do the right thing for our community's future.”
Residents with questions or concerns are encouraged to call the Mayor’s Office directly at (856) 488-7878, or e-mail Mayor Cahn or Council President Fleisher at MayorCahn@chtownship.com and DFleisher@chtownship.com.