Finally, we have a great deal of good news to report. In late June, and after what often seemed like an interminable wait, the congregation received the form called the Certificate of Filing
from the New Jersey Pinelands Commission. This is a breakthrough! The certificate allows us finally to apply for local approvals for our building. Our hired professionals and hard working internal volunteers have now been able to swing into action to see that this happens.
On Friday, July 20, 2007, our land use attorney and planning/engineering consultants submitted 20 copies of the complex, multi-page site plan and local application to Galloway Township officials.
Also on Friday, the civil engineer designing our septic system submitted his design to us which we will then submit to the Atlantic County Division of Public Health Department for approval. Our earliest chance for the first hearing on our Township application, where we hope it will be “deemed complete,” will be August 16.
Meanwhile, our architects are completing detailed construction drawings
with a kick-off meeting for that process scheduled for July 26. Our newly retained mechanical engineer is finalizing his design of a geothermal heating and cooling system
that looks like it will contain some novel elements and save us on heating and cooling costs even while we reduce our pollution “footprint.” Pending approval from Galloway Township, the electric company will soon be installing a meter on the property – a prerequisite to getting in line for state rebates on a solar photovoltaic array
that will be generating nearly $2,000 of electricity for us annually, while it offsets many tons of greenhouse gas and other pollutant emissions. More news on that and other “green building” issues later too.
Our architect strongly suggested that we have a detailed “geotechnical” boring
of our soil to help design our footings and foundations. That was also completed in July, and some great news accompanied it. As we had hoped, actual groundwater is much deeper -- 17 to 20 feet below the surface -- than earlier, less precise soil borings had suggested. The bottom line: our basement is more certain than ever to be “high and dry,” and the finding gives our architect more flexibility in basement design, including the potential for more comfortably high ceilings.
There’s a lot more that’s gone on in recent weeks, including a great deal of excellent consultation from knowledgeable congregation members. The range of experience and knowledge in this congregation is remarkable, involving everything from kitchen fixtures to solar and geothermal energy, to energy efficient lighting to, well, whether waterless urinals actually work (when our expert checked with fellow experts, the answer was yes.) At the risk of leaving out names – it’s hard even to keep track – we’ll let the credits roll by later. But for now, you know who you are, and please know how grateful the rest of us are.
So the question that’s on everyone’s mind, when do we break ground?
Here’s an optimistic scenario. If our application is deemed complete on August 16, we can hope for actual Township approval by September 20. With the follow-up 45-day public comment period, and other i’s to dot and t’s to cross, including one final review by the Pinelands Commission, we are still hoping for groundbreaking by December 12.
We are working with our engineer to see if we could advance that schedule a little bit. In the meantime, we have to complete the design and get our various contractors on board.
At some time soon, the Home Team will return to the congregation to lay out the costs of the building, and we will be looking for bank financing
to get the job done. And the Communications Committee is looking for ways to provide more timely dialog with the congregation about where the building design and financing is heading, including possible periodic presentations to the congregation after Sunday services.
And guess what?
We have an address!
It’s 75 S. Pomona Road.