Florence council introduces ordinance that could retract deal with manufacturer

Photo Courtesy of the Roebling Museum

The Florence Township Council has introduced an ordinance that would, if adopted, affect a previous redevelopment agreement with a manufacturing company.

The decision to introduce the ordinance that could rescind a redevelopment plan for property in the Roebling Steel Plant Redevelopment Area was made by council members at an Oct. 16 meeting.

The ordinance will have a public hearing on Nov. 6. Council meetings are held at the municipal complex, 711 Broad St., and begin at 8 p.m.

A previous redevelopment agreement with Kampack, a Newark-based company that manufactures cardboard, was stymied when representatives of the company informed Florence officials earlier this year that they had pulled out of the agreement.

Florence officials said they originally had plans with the company, which proposed the construction of approximately 500,000 square feet of industrial and commercial space along Hornberger Avenue.

Mayor Craig Wilkie said officials will have to reconsider their plans for the redevelopment site near the Roebling Steel Plant if the ordinance is adopted.

“Kampack, which we had been working with for three or more years, would take paper and make it into cardboard. We were moving forward with them to develop a portion of the steel plant closer to the railroad tracks,” Wilkie said.

“About a month ago they informed us the majority owner sold his interest to an international company and the international company no longer wanted to move forward [with the project]. So they are out of the picture,” the mayor said.

The mayor said the township’s professionals encouraged another approach to the redevelopment plan.

“The recommendation from our bond counsel was to go ahead and remove the current permitted plan, so that if [Kampack] was to come back … they would have to come in and start anew with us,” Wilkie said. “They have not gained any interest with us in the process. They chose to walk away, so the recommendation from counsel was to remove this, so we can continue to move forward.”

The properties near the Roebling Steel Plant border the Delaware River and have been of interest among municipal officials this year for potential redevelopment.

At an Aug. 27 Planning Board meeting, board members discussed the proposed development and use of waterfront property along the Delaware River, which is near the Roebling Museum and owned by the municipality.

The conversations among municipal officials were held during the board’s master plan discussion period when Wilkie introduced and led the evening’s topic.

The mayor said the waterfront property has been owned by the township since the late 1990s. He said that over time there has been conversation about what is and what is not supposed to go there, such as a golf course, power stations and warehouses.

Although Wilkie said he had been approached for proposed warehouse development at the site before, he said he felt several factors involved with the construction of the property for that use would be costly and ruled it out of conversation.

Township planners fielded additional discussion about multiple uses for the property, which included a potential marina/waterfront district, entertainment area, residential development, boardwalk and other commercial opportunities.

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