December 20, 2007
This letter is on behalf of the Civic Association of Cherry Hill Estates. I would believe that by now you have learned that Kevin Ryan, Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families of the State of New Jersey has decided to “phase in serving children over the next two months at the home located on Tanforan Drive” in Cherry Hill Estates. The group homes planned for the Brookfield section of Cherry Hill and for Voorhees will be phased in within the coming months.
Commissioner Ryan has said that “this process is mandated by the Federal Fair Share Housing Act which prohibits providing advance notification to the public about the development of such homes.” The lack of communication caused many rumors and misinformation to be spread through our neighborhood. After several stories in the Courier Post and a raucous meeting at the Cherry Hill Municipal building repeated requests were made to the Commissioner and his staff for information, but it was not forthcoming.
Through support from the Mayor’s office a meeting was arranged with the Commissioner and key members of his staff. The time of day for the meeting was not open for discussion and notice of this meeting was extremely short. The Commissioner indicated that he would notify our community when he had made his decision. Letters were delivered to only a few residents in close proximity to the house leaving the rest of us to learn of it through the media.
Catherine DeCheser, Director of the Community Advocacy and Planning Council will be monitoring the house and Mentor New Jersey program here. CPAC has a long history of working with social service programs in Camden County.
After lengthy conversations with Mrs. DeCheser and representatives of Mentor New Jersey I have been informed that :
The children residing in the home will be carefully selected and will not pose a safety threat to any resident of our community.
Staff of the home will be acquainted with the uniqueness of our neighborhood and its residents.
CPAC will monitor the home on a regular basis and will be available to discuss your concerns.
Every effort will be made to care for the appearance of the home.
I certainly want to thank you for communicating with Commissioner Ryan and our elected officials on this issue. It is important that we continue to communicate our concerns about our community and our west side of Cherry Hill with one another.
I am hopeful that a meeting can be arranged for January to allow for a full exchange of concerns and information.
Best wishes to you and your families for a New Year filled with health, happiness and peace.
Ruth S. Bogutz