Until now the lack of water and sewer connections north of Route 70 made development very difficult, said Kevin Bothwell of the township's planning office. Plans are being formulated for the connections and a water tower, with construction to begin in late summer or early fall, he said.
Developers will pay most of the cost of constructing the water and sewer lines and the water tower, which will be built north of Medford Mews near Route 541, he said.
The area north of Route 70 is ripe for development because it is not protected by Pinelands legislation that inhibits growth in other sections of the 42 square-mile township, said Reed Haywood, a township planner.
Most of the approved housing developments are clustered on Hartford Road, Route 541 and Eayrestown Road. According to Bothwell, the following proposals have either been approved or are being considered by the planning board:
* "Springhouse," a 61-house development by Medford Circle Associates at the northeast corner of Route 541 and the Medford Circle, has received preliminary approval.
* "Sharps Run," 70 single-family houses by Sharps Run Associates at the
intersection of Jennings and Hartford Roads, has received final site-plan approval. The development company also has received approval for a shopping center, "Sharps Run," to be constructed on Route 70.
* "Plains at Medford," 65 single-family houses by Marlton developer Steven Samost opposite Sharps Run on Jennings and Hartford roads, has received preliminary approval.
* "Hartford Crossing," 200 condominiums by First Peoples Bank at Church and Hartford roads, has been granted preliminary approval.
* "Canterbury Lane," 126 single-family houses by Land and Marketing Technology, a North Jersey firm, at Hartford and Church Roads opposite ''Hartford Crossing," is seeking preliminary approval.
* "Medford Mews," the third section of an expansion of the condominium complex off Route 541, has received final approval. It consists of 16 townhouses, a swimming pool, tennis courts and a retention basin.
* "Medford Leas," a life-care retirement complex near Eayrestown Road, is expanding by about 75 apartments. Under construction.
* "Eayresmoor," 157 single-family houses by Marlton developer Steven Samost at Eayrestown and Church Roads, has received preliminary site-plan approval. Samost has indicated he hopes to build another development, ''Eayresmoor II."
* "Governor's Walk," 150 single-family houses by Thomas Paparone on Route 541, has received final approval.
Such plans have not escaped the attention of Medford Council, which has long proposed major improvements to the Medford Circle, scene of major bottlenecks, and other intersections along Route 70 in the township, which has a population of 22,000.
Last month, the council was informed that work would begin soon on the installation of a traffic light at the intersection of Route 70 and Eayrestown Road, and earlier this month the council was told that the state Department of Transportation plans to spend $50,000 to conduct a preliminary study on how best to relieve congestion at the circle.
"We've (the township) already done a traffic study at the circle, which the state has ignored," said Mayor Robert Hawkins at a council meeting on April 4. "The $50,000 could be better spent by bulldozing the circle."
Township officials are working on an overhaul of the township master plan, which the council hopes to review in November. Of particular interest and concern is the development of Route 70, although no changes have been announced yet.
Joseph Knazek, a township resident, is circulating a petition, asking that any changes in the master plan be approved by the voters.
"The master plan is a very important document," said Knazek, who seeks more than 1,000 signatures on his petition, "which is why I'd like to have the township seek voter approval before any changes are made in the master plan."