Letter to the Editor: Eileen Stilwell

Borough resident expresses concern over the other big housing project planned for Haddonfield.

To the Editor: 

Bancroft is not the only land-use challenge in Haddonfield.

Affordable housing, otherwise known as the Snowden Project, has been quietly advancing through channels drawing little interest for even longer than Bancroft.  And yet, this essential project remains Haddonfield’s little secret.

Unless the borough changes course after the Nov. 5 election, it will house 28 low-and-moderate income families in a tiny, isolated lot behind the Post Office and Borough Hall. This could place as many as 140 people and their cars on a footprint that is shy of an acre. Access to that lot is equally challenging – via a driveway next to borough hall – or Snowden Ave., a one-lane street with four houses that dumps onto the busiest intersection of Haddon Ave. In addition, the housing project will eat up essential public parking, and possibly endanger the historic cottage formerly occupied by Interfaith Caregivers.

We can and must do better than this. Warehousing families in an attempt to bring diversity to our community does not pass the smell test.

Recently, two candidates for commissioner have started to take notice.

Commissioner Bob Marshall says he is “willing to meet and work with residents to discuss the reexamination of the Fair Share Housing agreement” and “keep abreast” of potential changes in state law that could impact the project.

While the governing body has singularly crafted this project without input from the Tatem School district which would absorb these students, Marshall said the school district and Board of Education candidates “should be asked to state their position and plans” for the impact of the Snowden project.

Candidate Colleen Bianco Bezich says the 28-unit project is entirely too dense for the space. She, too, promises to reexamine the plan.

Talking about Bancroft, rather than affordable housing, appears easier for candidates because most of the damage was done by prior commissioners, including Mayor Neal Rochford and Jeff Kasko. Snowden, on the other hand, will require officials going forward to take ownership of the outcome.

Both projects have been named in lawsuits. Makes one wonder if a lawsuit is necessary to be heard by the occupants of Borough Hall.

As Haddonfield residents, we must hold our elected officials to a high standard.  Don’t let them take the low road with a shameful project that makes affordable housing as separate and unequal as possible.

Eileen Stilwell

Haddonfield