Doubts Loom Over Proposed Senior Development On Cherry Hill Farmland

July 2, 2023 0 By JohnValbyNation

CHERRY HILL, NJ — Officials on the Cherry Hill Zoning Board raised doubts during Thursday’s marathon hearing for a proposed senior-living development on the Holly Ravine Farm’s land. But the board’s decisions won’t come until at least the end of the month, when the hearing will proceed.

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A special meeting on Caddis Healthcare Real Estate’s development application will begin at 6 p.m. May 31, which will give the public the opportunity to comment on the controversial proposal. More than 100 people joined the meeting over Zoom.

Caddis representatives testified for nearly five hours during Thursday’s virtual Zoning Board meeting. Just before 11 p.m., Cherry Hill officials concluded that the hearing should continue another day.

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Caddis — a Texas-based health care real-estate company — still had one witness left who was set to answer questions. Additionally, about 20 members of the public wanted to comment on the application. The May 31 meeting will include the remaining testimony, plus a public-comment portion.

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During Thursday’s meeting, zoning officials expressed skepticism over aspects of Caddis’s application — primarily regarding the height of a proposed four-story building on the farmland and traffic issues that the senior complex could exacerbate.

The proposal for the 175-unit living facility also includes a three-story commons building.

For the project to move forward, Caddis needs the Zoning Board to approve several variances, including one which would allow a taller structure than is currently permitted. Under current regulations, a building on the property cannot exceed 35 feet, while Caddis proposed a four-story building that would stand 49 feet, 10.5 inches tall.

But zoning officials noted that the site’s elevation would bring the building higher, saying that the developer’s architectural renderings didn’t accurately represent the area’s 15-foot slope. Board Solicitor Sandy Zeller contended that, for the variance’s approval, Caddis needed to show that the structure’s height would benefit the township — not just the developer.

Richard Goldstein, Caddis’s attorney, argued that the building would benefit both the business and the surrounding community.

“I believe it is the township’s role to do what is necessary to protect the seniors of our township,” Goldstein said.

Board Member Gregory Bruno also expressed frustration, saying that he requested renderings a week prior of what the buildings would look like from the street but never received them from Caddis.

“Mr. Goldstein, you mentioned that you were going to work in a collaborative nature with the township,” Bruno said. “But yet, I don’t feel the collaboration.”

When the board later adjourned until May 31, Goldstein said Caddis would have the renderings by then.

During the meeting, Caddis representatives claimed that the complex wouldn’t add significant traffic issues. The development would employ roughly 100 staff, who will work staggered shifts and commute primarily during off-peak hours. Tami Cummings, Caddis’s former vice president of senior living, also estimated that only about 25 residents would have vehicles but most would rarely use them because of the complex’s amenities and bus service.

Zoning officials, however, expressed concerns about the potential for crashes, especially around the development’s proposed entrance on Evesham Road.

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