Community development and economic development in Gloucester Township require thoughtful planning and competent execution. GT’s development and growth in recent years seem haphazard and without coherence. GT’s community development plans seem to never adequately take into account the effects on our schools, traffic, infrastructure, and the GT budget.
Here are some common sense, achievable recommendations to improve on GT’s current disorderly process for development in our town.
OUR 5 POINT COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR GT
Accountability of the GT “Master Plan”; and of the Planning and Zoning Boards
Unbeknownst to most residents, GT has prepared a “Master Plan” for land development in our Township. This Plan is a public document however, it has been very poorly explained to the public. In recent years, this Master Plan has seemed misused mostly as a vehicle to award many property tax abatements, and award development approvals that benefit politically connected entities.
Our team will make the GT Master Plan accessible and transparent to the public. When development plans are presented, our team will require that the ‘connections’ of developer applicants be disclosed.
Gloucester Township Economic Development Corporation
Unbeknownst to most residents, a tax-funded entity called Gloucester Township Economic Development Corporation (EDC) exists in our town. The EDC is made up of consultants who are tasked with bringing business to our town. The EDC’s public meetings and activities are virtually unknown; its successes and failures are not made public. There is no transparency to the EDC’s budget and spending.
Our team will reassess the mission and the performance of the EDC, and hold it accountable for achieving results. Our team will be transparent with the activities of the EDC.
Target tax incentives to attract the most needed development
GT currently offers a property tax abatement to every business that builds new or rehabilitates an old building. Excessive and indiscriminate use of tax abatements unfairly shifts the tax burden onto the rest of us.
Our team will re-evaluate this practice, and narrow the use of tax abatements so that GT can better target the tax abatements to attract businesses that will be more beneficial to our town.
Better ‘customer focus’ from the GT Permit and Construction Offices
It seems that we’ve all heard anecdotes about how difficult it is for contractors and business owners to work with our Township construction and permit offices.
Our team will ensure that these offices focus on a more user-friendly experience.
Make Downtown Blackwood a dining, shopping, craft destination
Our downtown Blackwood has much potential to be an enjoyable, walkable dining and shopping destination. This isn’t an original idea. The current administration has been considering this idea for more than 15 years. The problem, though, is that pretty much all the current administration has done about this idea over these 15+ years is hire consultants to do multiple “studies”.
Our team will put its energy and focus on turning the studies into reality.