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The Story Behind The Story: You Have A Right To Know

The people in Harrison Township stopped the building of a 2.1 million square foot warehouse by showing up at the township planning/zoning board meetings.  According to many of those interviewed, the problem was that although it was a three-year project, they didn't know about the warehouse until they heard about it from neighbors.  The township, they said, did nothing proactive to inform the taxpayers.
That is probably true, at least half-true. The state rules governing what and how taxpayers have to be informed of planning and zoning issues were written 75 years ago!  There was no internet 75 years ago and computers were in their infancy.  Companies were in the process of switching from manual to electric typewriters.  These rules need to be updated - desperately.
So far as Gloucester City is concerned, no doubt the city meets the 75-year-old requirements but that doesn't mean information is always easy to find.  The meeting schedule is only published once a year and can be found on the city's web site, month-by-month, if you look hard enough.
The city council meetings are two each month, a caucus (planning) and a regular meeting.  The next regular meeting is Thursday, December 22. There will be no further meetings until January, and the schedule will be announced here in plenty of time.  Again, your voice is needed.  The last recorded meeting minutes are from September 26, 2022, but on October 27, 2022, council introduced and immediately approved an ordinance giving William Ackley, the Chief Housing Inspector a raise. He is currently making $86,374 and his salary range has been increased to a minimum of $60,000 and a maximum of $95,000.
The planning/zoning board meetings are usually on the third Thursday of each month, but December's meeting will be held this Thursday, December 22, 2022 at 7:30 pm.  The location is the courthouse at 313 Monmouth Street.  Items on the agenda that residents should be aware of include more apartments and more apartments.
200 - 202 North Broadway.  Currently these two properties are vacant lots, but a developer wants to build a five-story building with stores on the first floor and apartments on the second through fifth floors.  That would be an estimated eight or more apartments.  There are cars parked on those lots today.  Where will those cars go and where will the additional eight to 16 cars from the new apartments go?  If this is your neighborhood, you need your voice to be heard at the meeting.
32 Champion Rd.  The agenda only lists the address and codes for the variances.  This is the three-story (former boarding) house, the last one at the intersection of Champion Rd, Cumberland St., and Broadway.  Unofficially, it may become a half-way house.  Anyone who has questions about the pros and cons of a halfway house or wonder where these residents are going to park, your voice needs to be heard.
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OH'HARA'S PENTHOUSE VIEW-Why in the world would someone build this shack on the roof of the abandoned OH'Hara's Tavern at 22 N. King Street? And why hasn't it been removed? It looks like a strong wind could blow it off the three-story building at any time. In recent years pigeons, rats, and termites have taken over the abandoned building. Some windows are wide open, and others have been boarded up. The photo was taken in October from the back of the property on North Willow Street.
22 North King St.  Oh Hara's Pub-A real estate developer is asking for variances for - what else?  Apartments.  Again.  How does this affect parking in the area? Somehow someone was able to erect a building on top of Oh Hara's without the public's input. One has to wonder if that rooftop penthouse meets Housing Codes standards. 
Everyone needs to be more proactive and not just let things happen.  
The best place for the city to announce the next meeting(s) is the sign in front of the municipal building.  As of December 17, 2022 the sign was announcing a food drive which had ended a week earlier and girls softball registration.  Maybe if city employees worked five days a week instead of only four, they would have the time to keep the taxpayers informed. 
As stated at the top of the CNBNews page "You Have A Right To Know."
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