Bianco Bezich officially sworn in as borough commissioner

Panel moves to change borough codes to address housing development.

 

Flanked by members of her family, Colleen Bianco Bezich (second from left) was officially sworn in as a member of the Board of Commissioners prior to its public session on Nov. 26. Administering the oath of office is former borough head Jack Tarditi (left), and holding the document upon which she affirmed the appointment is husband Anthony Bezich (third from left).

At its most recent public meeting, Haddonfield’s Board of Commissioners officially welcomed the third member of its governing team, Colleen Bianco Bezich. The 37-year-old resident and business owner was the victor in a special election on Nov. 5 which sought a candidate to finish the unexpired term of former Commissioner John Moscatelli that was set to end in May 2021. 

Bianco Bezich steps into the spot previously held by Bob Marshall, who was appointed to the board in July. She will serve as the first female member of the borough’s governing body since Tish Colombi, whose 28-year stint on the board ended in 2013. 

“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to serve as the second female commissioner in our borough’s history. I am honored to be taking the oath of office in front of many of the children in Haddonfield. I hope that at least one child or young adult in our community is at least inspired to lead a future of public service and demonstrate that everyone deserves a seat at the table,” she said.

“I’m committed to representing all of you. All of us here are neighbors. I’m committed to moving forward with you in 2020 and beyond.”

Officially certified by Borough Clerk Deanna Bennett, Bianco Bezich finished with 1,730 votes, to Marshall’s 1,363. Gregory Peltz ended up with 219 votes and 190 were cast for Kathryn Raiczyk. 

Following the ceremony, Mayor Neal Rochford announced a shift in responsibilities for the trio: Rochford will switch from Commissioner for Public Safety to Commissioner for Public Works, Bianco Bezich will take over for Rochford as Commissioner for Public Safety, and Jeff Kasko will remain in his role as Commissioner for Revenue and Finance. 

Kasko, per Rochford, will join the Planning Board while Bianco Bezich will join the Partnership for Haddonfield. 

Commissioners then approved, upon first reading, a pair of ordinances which seek to amend borough codes regarding previously-established edicts on affordable housing. The twin pieces of legislation were necessary to adjust to the impending creation of new housing developments on both the Bancroft and Snowden properties. Per current plans, 10 affordable-housing units are slated for the former, while 28 such units are intended for the latter. 

The first piece of legislation aims to repeal three sections of borough code, Chapter 63 dealing with affordable housing, Chapter 135, Section 25.1 regarding “affordable housing for any development producing five dwelling units or more” and Chapter 135, Section 25.2, “affordable housing as share of all development or redevelopment of parcels of five or more acres.”

A new Chapter 63 has been created, in which will be reflected the terms of a settlement agreement between the borough and the Fair Share Housing Center from earlier this year. The complete document comprised 38 pages of the meeting agenda. 

“This has been a very long process. While no one is ever completely satisfied with any of the requirements that are forced upon us by the state for affordable housing, we feel that we have come up with a reasonable plan that satisfies the needs of Haddonfield,” said Borough Administrator Sharon McCullough.

“We also increased other areas of potential, between this ordinance and the next ordinance, we are putting in certain regulations for an overlay that will provide density for this type of item for potential future development in our downtown district.”

The second piece of legislation further amends Chapter 135 of borough code regarding land development, creating eight different “affordable housing overlay” districts in the downtown area in the event that additional affordable units may be constructed there in the future. 

The Snowden lot, located behind Borough Hall, comprises less than an acre of land. In response to public concern regarding the high density of proposed housing units there, the borough has floated the possibility of reducing the number of units from 28 to 20 and relocating the remainder elsewhere in town. 

“We have committed to continuing to work with certain neighbors to try – after this has been adopted – and modify the size of the Snowden lot,” added McCullough.

Second reading and public comment on these ordinances is expected to take place at the board’s next public session, scheduled for Dec. 17. 

For a detailed analysis of the ordinances, visit the Board of Commissioners meetings page on the borough’s website and select the Nov. 26 agenda: http://www.haddonfieldnj.org/agendas_and_minutes/commissioners_meetings.php#revize_document_center_rz2019

In other news

  • Two members of the Haddonfield Police Department were also officially sworn in: Conor Beckas and Kristin O’Neill. William Cantiello was to be inducted into  the Auxiliary Police, but that ceremony will not be held until at least January, according to Rochford. 
  • Commissioners read a proclamation which declared November as “World War II Remembrance Month” in the borough.
  • The triumverate also passed a resolution authorizing a contract extension for Borough Solicitor Mario Iavicoli.