Resident: Haddonfield Zoning Board doesn’t file annual reports

Resident: Haddonfield Zoning Board doesn’t file annual reports

For many years, the Haddonfield Zoning Board has not filed annual reports with the commissioners or the planning board.

These reports are required by the state’s land-use law and typically include a review of variance requests, observations of changes in the type of requests and recommendations for revisions or amendments to local zoning ordinances.

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As far back as 2000, the planning board, recognizing inappropriate and undesirable development in the borough, adopted a well-researched and documented master plan, introduced an ordinance amending and supplemented the Land Development Ordinance to deal with the problem. The ordinance itself was never passed.

No action was taken either by the Haddonfield Planning Board or the commissioners when these annual reports stopped coming.

Residents now, however, are becoming increasingly aware of the same development problems described in the master plan.

Those vibrant blue port-a-potties are everywhere and houses are becoming closer and closer together. One cannot help but see the loss of open/green space and mature trees.

Housing and population diversity is disappearing, there is overcrowding at Tatem School and there is general agreement that flooding and drainage problems are on the rise.

The Beechwood/Bryn Mawr/Maple Avenue neighborhood has become a microcosm of the growing concern in the community, exemplified by neighbors’ recent public opposition to a variance granted to a builder/owner at 645 Maple Ave. Moderately priced houses have been razed; their replacements “mansionized” and new houses that are out of scale with surrounding homes are destroying the character of the neighborhood.

Neighbors hope, for example, that alterations to the house at 645 Maple Ave. will be on a scale commensurate with other homes in the neighborhood and in character with the area.

The New Jersey Supreme Court has observed, “the preservation of the character of the neighborhood and conservation of neighborhood values are still proper zoning purposes.”

Residents of the Beechwood/Bryn Mawr/Maple Avenue neighborhood recommend the following: Commissioners review and update with the planning board and other interested parties the ordinance dropped in 2002 and present it for adoption; and the zoning board provide information missing because of lack of past annual reports; include a “public comment” session in all future meetings and a short, concise statement regarding variance requests in all future agendas; work closely with the planning board to meet goals and objectives of the master plan; and, insofar as possible, follow the Land Development Ordinance in granting variances when the proven benefits outweigh the deficits of a proposed project.

Maryanne Shay on behalf of the Beechwood/Bryn Mawr/Maple Avenue Committee

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