Voorhees Master Plan Bears VERA Imprint
1998 saw the Voorhees Township Master Plan, the basis for zoning and subdivision ordinances, reopened for revisions and public hearings, largely in response to the environmental movement led by VERA. We attended and testified often at the public hearings, and had a major hand in drafting the Conservation Plan Element. Environmental achievements in the revised Master Plan include:
> a plan for open space acquisition
> increased open space requirements in all commercial zones
> new policies on stream and groundwater protection
> reduction in land zoned for single family residential (less sprawl)
Voorhees Township Environmental Poem and Poster Contest
VERA and the Voorhees Township Environmental Advisory Board created and sponsored a contest designed to heighten awareness of local environmental treasures among Voorhees children and their parents. The contest drew over a hundred entries and culminated with an awards ceremony by the Mayor as part of the Voorhees Centennial Celebration.
VERA Joins with Common Cause-NJ for Campaign Finance Reform
Common Cause and NJ League of Women Voters brought their “citizens army” campaign for local election reform to South Jersey, and kicked SJ efforts in Camden County and Voorhees with logistical, planning and recruitment support from VERA. We share CC’s concern over the undue influence of money in elections and land development.
The Citizens Army is seeking to have municipalities and counties adopt ordinances (1) prohibiting political fundraising on government property or using government facilities or letterhead and (2) requiring applicants for zoning changes or use variances to puboicly disclose recent campaign contributions.
Ordinances have already passed in Voorhees, Medford, Camden City and are pending in Cherry Hill and Shamong.
Public Education and Awareness Programs
VERA Seeks Long-Term Influence Through Public Education and Awareness Programs.
VERA holds public forums to bring outstanding speakers to Voorhees to address important issues
VERA regularly contributes information and environmentalist opinion to local newspaper Op-Ed pages
VERA exhibits at the Township Picnic and similar events
VERA places newspaper display advertising, mails letters, and distributes fliers to reach the widest audience possible on issues where civic support of good government policies is crucial
Partnering with the Environmental Commission
VERA members regularly attend meetings of the Township’s official environmental agency to share opinions and information on issues facing Voorhees. Pending land development and subdivision applications are reviewed from an environmentalist perspective to provide recommendations to the Planning Board. VERA provided assistance in the development of the ranking system to be used to prioritize undeveloped parcels in the Township for possible acquisition or preservation. As an independent citizen’s group, VERA is able to apply political pressure to Township government in support of environmental approaches.
Serving as a Resource to Citizens
As an active participant in environmentalist coalitions and networks throughout the County and the State, VERA has access to state-of-the-art information, useful both to VERA’s organizational projects and to individuals who often call upon us for help. Our members attend educational programs around the State, keeping abreast of conservation and preservation methods found successful in other communities. VERA shares this information with Township officials, and we are happy to consult with local residents on problems that concern them.