Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Last week, Waterford Township repaired the sewer lateral that caused some plumbing issues for me so I was able to enjoy the holiday with visits to family in Egg Harbor Township and Sicklerville. I wanted to write more about my new home town and share additional photos before putting this blog on hiatus for December.
The Mullica River, which starts in neighboring Berlin, separates Waterford from Evesham, Medford, and Shamong to the north and northwest. The river flows into Wharton State Forest, which comprises much of the eastern portion of my township. Waterford shares a small section of Atco, its most famous unincorporated community, with Winslow Township to the south.
The entire municipality of Waterford lies within the state-designated Pinelands area and is subject to six of the nine Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) land use designations. These are the CMP designated management areas within Waterford along with their descriptions from the CMP website:
- Agricultural Production Area: “These are areas of active agricultural use, generally upland field agriculture and row crops, together with adjacent areas with soils suitable for expansion of agricultural operations. Farm-related housing on 10 acres and non-farm housing on 40 acres are allowed. Permitted non-residential uses are agricultural commercial and roadside retail within 300 feet of preexisting commercial uses.”
- Forest Area: “Similar to the Preservation Area District in terms of ecological value; this is a largely undeveloped area that is an essential element of the Pinelands environment. It contains high quality water resources and wetlands and provides suitable habitat for many threatened and endangered species. Clustered housing on one acre lots is permitted at an average residential density of one home per every 28 acres. Roadside retail within 300 feet of pre-existing commercial uses is permitted, as are low intensity recreational uses.”
- Pinelands Village: “Forty-seven small, existing, spatially discrete settlements that are appropriate for infill residential, commercial and industrial development compatible with their existing character. Most Villages are not sewered; therefore residential development is permitted on lots between one and five acres in size.”
- Preservation Area (Wharton State Forest): “This is the heart of the Pinelands environment and the most critical ecological region; a large, contiguous wilderness-like area of forest that supports diverse plant and animal communities and is home to many threatened and endangered species. No residential development is permitted, except for one-acre lots in designated infill areas and special “cultural housing” exceptions, on minimum 3.2 acre lots for property owned by families prior to 1979. Limited commercial uses are also permitted in designated infill areas, which total approximately 2,100 acres in size.”
- Regional Growth Area: “These are areas of existing growth and adjacent lands capable of accommodating regional growth influences while protecting the essential character and environment of the Pinelands. Permitted residential densities range from two to six homes per acre with sewers. Sewered commercial and industrial uses are also permitted.”
- Rural Development Area: “This is a transitional area that balances environmental and development values between conservation and growth areas. Limited, low-density residential development and roadside retail is permitted. Clustered housing on one acre lots is permitted at an average residential density of one home for every five acres. Community commercial, light industrial and active recreational uses served by septic systems are also permitted.”
Waterford’s location near the western edge of the state-designated Pinelands area puts it close to the more densely populated and heavily developed areas of Camden County. The White Horse Pike (Route 30) enters Waterford from Berlin Borough at the intersection of Route 73.
Chew Road goes through Wharton State Forest where it enters Hammonton and connects to Route 206. Jackson Road (County Road 534) enters the township close to the Mullica River, goes past the Atco Dragway, and crosses the river into Shamong.
C.W. Haines Boulevard crosses the White Horse Pike and leads to Atco Station and Route 73’s strip malls and shopping centers. The NJ Transit Atlantic City Line runs through Waterford with a stop at Atco Station, connecting the township with the Atlantic City Rail Terminal in Atlantic City and 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. As someone who grew up in Philadelphia accustomed to the convenience of public transportation, having a train station connected to Philly as well as the shore minutes from my house was definitely a plus when I made my decision to move to Waterford.
Although the train runs along C.W. Haines regularly along with the 554 bus, birds and deer make this patch of woods their home. Walking or driving along this road, I’ve encountered bluejays, cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, catbirds, wild turkeys, red-tailed hawks, and turkey vultures along with white-tailed does. At night. Intermingled with the sound of the train and its whistle, I’ve heard great horned owls hooting in the fall when their breeding season begins, peepers welcoming the spring and awoken to the dawn chorus of birds in the summer. With the natural beauty of Wharton State Forest to my east and the amenities of civilization to my west, I feel I discovered a place that offers the best of both worlds.