(Cherry Hill, N.J.) – The Township has reached a tentative agreement with Advanced Recovery Systems to purchase the Masonic Lodge property on Haddonfield-Berlin Road to preserve as open space, Mayor Chuck Cahn announced today.
Under the terms of the agreement, the Township, together with Camden County, would purchase Advanced Recovery’s Agreement of Sale with the Masons for $300,000. In turn, the Township and County would purchase the property itself from the Masons for $1.4 million, with the goal of demolishing the site’s existing building and preserving the parcel for open space and recreational use.
Township Council will vote on the agreement at its meeting tonight. On Thursday, Dec. 15, the Camden County Freeholders will vote on the Township’s request to utilize open space funds to purchase the property.
The Haddonfield-Berlin Road location is adjacent to Cherry Hill’s Brookfield neighborhood, and the facility would have directly abutted dozens of single-family homes, as well as Little League fields.
Development of any kind at the site was a concern, due to its proximity to the neighborhood, the fields, and the addition of traffic to an area that is already very congested.
Advanced Recovery first proposed its facility at the Masonic site in February 2016, at which time the Township began working together with ARS to identify a more suitable location for the project.
The agreement would end a lawsuit filed by ARS this summer seeking “default approval” for the project. That lawsuit was met by significant concerns from both Brookfield residents and members of Cherry Hill American Little League.
Today’s settlement fulfills the commitment by Mayor Cahn and Township Council to protect the neighborhood by preserving the Masonic site.
“We have heard a great deal of concern from residents worried about the impact of any new development, and we have promised from day one to do everything in our power to protect their neighborhood and residents’ quality of life,” Cahn and Council President David Fleisher said. “The community remained engaged and in contact with us throughout the process, and their cooperation is an incredible example of the progress that can be made when citizens and government work with each other to achieve a positive result.”
The agreement will also help to revitalize the long-vacant Baker Lanes property on Cuthbert Boulevard.
If the settlement is approved, Advanced Recovery, which had proposed a residential healthcare facility at the Masonic site, will be designated as the redeveloper for the Baker Lanes property.
“This agreement achieves the best possible outcome for our community, our residents, and the various stakeholders involved,” Mayor Chuck Cahn said. “It protects the integrity of our neighborhoods, preserves open space, and eliminates blight within the Township.”