Swedish Cherry Hill master plan moves forward, with cuts

The long saga of the Swedish Health Services Cherry Hill campus expansion is drawing to a close.To recap the history:  Swedish, whose Cherry Hill campus is governed by a “major institution master plan” or MIMP, has been trying for several years to get approval of a revised version that allows for “expanding up” since there is no room to expand out.  Neighbors objected on several grounds, and the city hearing examiner’s office conducted a lengthy process to evaluate all the concerns and make a final recommendation. Swedish got a lot of what it wanted in terms of adjusted height limits and greater building density, but with a fairly long list of conditions.  The neighbors appealed the hearing examiner’s decision, which means that the City Council needed to conduct a quasi-judicial hearing on the matter. That has been going on for several weeks.

Today the Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee made two final tweaks to height limits along the western and eastern edge of campus (in addition to the several changes they made in a previous meeting) and voted their recommendation to approve the amended MIMP for the full Council to approve next week. The Council’s actions give a bit more to the neighbors by trimming down building heights to provide a more gradual transition from tall buildings in the center of campus to the shorter residential buildings in the surrounding communities. They also step up enforcement of stormwater runoff management and adherence to goals for reducing street traffic to and from the campus — goals which Swedish have consistently missed by a long shot.

The Council is aiming for a compromise; we’ll see how the two sides react. Because it’s a quasi-judicial proceeding, communication between the Council and the parties in the appeal is strictly limited until the Council takes its final vote next Monday.