Boxwood Hall redevelopment plans approved at board of commissioners meeting

Plans to move forward with the reconfiguration and rehabilitation of the Boxwood Hall site moved a step closer to completion at the most recent board of commissioners meeting. 

A second reading of the ordinance relating to the adoption of the Boxwood plans, as proposed by developer Clarke Caton Hintz in early March, was scheduled to take place at the April 9 session, but was instead tabled until the commissioners met on May 14. 

The ordinance had been unanimously approved upon its first reading, back on March 26. It was set to be reviewed by the borough’s planning board in early April, but the planning board instead decided to submit the Boxwood material to the Historic Preservation Commission for its own review, before the planning board itself reviewed the plans during its May session. 

The HPC issued its opinion on the Boxwood matter, and according to Mayor Neal Rochford, it gave the borough its “blessing” to proceed with the plans without any major concerns or alterations. Commissioners then held a final public comment session and vote upon second reading, approving the measure unanimously. 

“The plan is similar to and kind of the baby brother of the redevelopment plan that we did for Bancroft, in that it has been declared an area in need of rehabilitation,” explained Commissioner John Moscatelli. 

“What that means is, we are going to be able to go out and solicit proposals that are consistent with (the plans), and the commissioners will look at those proposals and pick not just based on who is making the greatest financial offer, but who we think is offering the best package in total for that site.” 

In addition to Boxwood Hall itself, there is a 1950s vintage carriage house that is not historically protected – and could be saved or removed depending on who purchases the site and what the buyer wants to do with it – along with open space at the rear of the parcel intended for public park usage. 

A full description of the Boxwood redevelopment plan, which was distributed on paper at the meeting, will be found online shortly at the borough’s website: www.haddonfieldnj.org.

Another piece of legislation whose second reading was delayed from early April, was an ordinance to amend a section of borough zoning code to address changes in language relating to size, dimensions and other physical attributes of homes located within the borough. The planning board did not address the ordinance at a marathon session on April 2, but did so at a special meeting on April 17. 

Commissioners then held a public information session on the matter on May 1, where proposed changes and ramifications to language alterations were discussed. The result was the creation of a subcommittee, called Haddonfield Neighborhood Character and Zoning Initiative. 

This new committee will be tasked with addressing borough residents’ concerns over new residential projects (like Bancroft and Snowden) which – according to public comment – seem to be larger than necessary or out-of-character with current properties. 

“Most in the people in Haddonfield are trying to look for ways to make sure that it stays the kind of community and that the homes in their neighborhoods are similar in terms of the nature and the scale,” Mayor Neal Rochford said. 

Public opposition came in the person of Linda Checchio, whose property on Washington Avenue would be one of only four in the borough that would be affected by the zoning change. Cecchio disagreed with the proposed alterations, citing the possibility of decreased property value. 

Moscatelli countered, saying, “all zoning takes away someone’s rights to do something. We need to find zoning which is in the best interest for all neighborhoods in the community as a whole.” 

More information on concerns surrounding the zoning issue can be found at: http://www.haddonfieldnj.org/boards_and_committees/planning_board/planning_board_land_use_sub-comittee.php.

In addition, the commissioners approved a resolution pertaining to the introduction of the municipal budget for 2019. 

Per Commissioner for Revenue and Finance Jeffrey S. Kasko, the total budget for the current year is expected to be $18,988,031.74, of which $7,028,273.47 would arrive from anticipated revenue and the remaining $11,959,758.27 would come via the local purpose tax. At 52.30 cents per $100 of assessed property valuation, a home with an average borough home value of $488,481 would see an increase of $90 in taxes over last year. 

“The major expenditures are $2.24 million for cash as well as some capital fund balance to fund our road reconstruction and design program for this year. Our debt service on the Bancroft property is increasing to over a half-million dollars. And then we have other significant increases for employee pension costs and for trash and recycling,” Kasko revealed. 

Copies of the 2019 budget will be available in the borough clerk’s office as well as online for public perusal in the near future.

According to Kasko, a hearing on the Budget and Tax Resolution will be held at Borough Hall on June 11 at 7:30 p.m. where the public can voice any objections to the resolution.

In other news

  • Commissioners approved, upon second reading, an ordinance that amended a portion of the borough’s tobacco sale code to prohibit the sale of any tobacco-related product or electronic smoking device to citizens under the age of 21. This ordinance was introduced to bring Haddonfield’s code in line with state regulations, which raised the legal limit on tobacco and tobacco-related purchases from 18 to 21 in 2017.
  • A resolution that granted authorization for the Partnership for Haddonfield to hold its summer Night Market on June 13 throughout the downtown area was also passed.
  • Ameet Shah and Devora Lapidot were appointed to positions in the borough’s auxiliary police department for terms expiring in December.