03212022 LINKS GOLF CLUB SIGN

When the subjects of rezoning or development come up in connection with the Kings Grant community in Evesham, a buzz grows as residents express worries about more homes in the area.

The giant 48-year-old private lakes development with 2,507 homes, condos and townhouses already taxes the two-lane Taunton Lake Road, which is limited in improvements because of Pinelands restrictions.

And the buzz has grown recently as the owner of the Links Golf Club has requested rezoning for its clubhouse to allow the building to connect to the Township sewer network and to turn off its burdened septic-sewage disposal system. The owners say they need to be on the public sewer network to add amenities to the clubhouse.

Residents worry that rezoning will open the door to converting the golf course into residential housing — something that Township officials maintain would not happen because of Pinelands and other restrictions.

Evesham Township Council on Wednesday night will hold a public hearing on the zoning ordinance change for the Links clubhouse as well as a zoning change for the now-closed Barton Run Swim Club, which its owner hopes to develop into residential properties. The meeting begins at 7 p.m.

» LEARN MORE: Information about the meeting or view a live video of the meeting.

When Council members approved the ordinance on first reading by a vote of 3-2 at the March 9 meeting, some members said they understood the need to rezone the Links clubhouse, but they also said they were insistent on making sure the golf course is never developed.

"In this ordinance are there any protections that would prevent the landowner of the golf course from developing the golf course besides the clubhouse?" asked Councilwoman Ginamarie Espinoza.

"In this ordinance, no," responded Township solicitor Primitivo J. Cruz, of Malamut & Associates in Cherry Hill.

"Does the ordinance only allow the golf course landowner to only develop the clubhouse?" asked Espinoza, who lives with her family in Kings Grant.

"No," Cruz responded.

"Without those protections in this ordinance, I cannot support this ordinance," said Espinoza, who later voted against it. She said she had met with community members and heard their concerns about development in Kings Grant.

Espinoza was not the only Council member who wanted more specificity in the zoning change.

"I know there have been ongoing discussions and continuing discussions as far as providing those protections that Councilwoman Espinoza is speaking of," Councilman Eddie Freeman III told fellow Council members at the March 9 meeting. "Tonight, just to put my thoughts on the record, I want to note that I will go ahead and vote for it tonight, however going forward, if those discussions break down or if those protections are not there then I don't think we can go forward with this ordinance."

Later in the meeting, Freeman noted: "Ten years from now I don't want to see, or I don't want it to be a possibility to see, 20, 30 homes in that area."

Councilwoman Patricia Hansen also said she was worried about the lack of restrictions.

Hansen and Espinoza voted against the ordinance on first reading. Freeman, Mayor Jaclyn Veasy and Deputy Mayor Heather Cooper voted to move the ordinance to its second reading and a public hearing, which is on Wednesday evening.

The Township land-use attorney, Anthony T. Drollas Jr., also of Malamut & Associates, told Council at the March 9 meeting that the plan said that only the clubhouse is being rezoned so it can connect to the public sewer system.

032122 LINKS PLAYING

The Links Golf Club's eighth hole.

"It's not an effort to open that property to development with multiple homes and with some purpose other than the clubhouse," Drollas said.

The rezoning of the clubhouse and the former swim club to Rural Growth from Rural Development was part of the "General Reexamination and Master Plan Amendment" that was presented in December and adopted by the Township Planning Board on January 20.

"The Links Golf Club clubhouse requires repairs, including a failing septic system, where failing private septic systems negatively impact water quality," according to that report. "The clubhouse property but not the golf course is proposed to be included within the RG District, which will permit functional improvements to the Club, including restaurant, catering, pro-shop, cart barns, maintenance sheds, caretaker apartment, and marital suite consistent with current consumer expectations for these types of facilities."

The report also singled out the former Barton Run Swim Club, noting that it "once included a swimming pool, clubhouse, fields, courts, and other improvements and the availability of public water and sanitary sewer, it can be developed with residential dwellings, consistent with the surrounds. In addition, the community is requiring a set-aside to provide public open space and passive recreation improvements."

03212022 GOOGLE EARTH AERIAL LINKS GOLF

A Google Earth view of the Links Golf Club, woven among homes in the Kings Grant community in Evesham. The clubhouse is shown by the yellow arrow.

03212022 BARTON RUN SWIM CLUB

The now-closed Barton Run Swim Club is outlined in blue.