Board of commissioners authorize budget for business district

Borough purchases properties to satisfy affordable-housing needs.

At its lone public session of the month, Haddonfield’s board of commissioners passed two key pieces of legislation: adopting the budget for the Partnership for Haddonfield and authorizing the purchase of a pair of properties intended to satisfy affordable-housing obligations. 

During that July 20 virtual meeting, the three-member body first unanimously passed this year’s operating budget for the organization tasked with keeping Haddonfield’s downtown core viable for a wide range of businesses. 

Due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which created an  urgent economic impact in the borough, the PFH allotment for 2020 clocked in at $251,600, a reduction of more than $107,000 from its 2019 budget. 

“I want to extend a thank you to the PFH for working with us in reducing this budget during what is a tough year for everybody,” said Commissioner Colleen Bianco Bezich. 

On the chopping block for this year were the Craft Fair and Fine Arts Festival, usually held in mid-July, as well as Night Market Food Truck events, along with $6,000 intended for tree lighting and beautification projects. 

In all, nearly $111,000 in total planned income for the year was eliminated due to the COVID-related impact. 

“They had to make some tough decisions, that’s for sure,” noted Mayor Neal Rochford. 

A detailed breakdown of the rationale for the budget cuts, as well as facts and figures behind the approved budget, can be found on the borough’s website at: https://tinyurl.com/yxdo4m2f.

Commissioners also passed a resolution authorizing an agreement for the purchase of a pair of existing residential properties to reduce the footprint of the impending Snowden affordable-housing project. 

The two locales brought into the fold are 129 Fowler Ave., purchased for $262,000 plus all applicable closing costs, and 283 Lake St., for $190,000 plus closing costs. 

Located on a parcel of less than an acre behind borough hall, the Snowden lot has been earmarked for approximately 20 to 28 affordable-housing units. But the proposed high-density imprint of the project has come under fire from residents nearby, who requested the municipality seek out other lower-density locations to satisfy its state mandate. 

“We looked at 10 properties over the last two months, made an offer on three locations, and narrowed it down to the two in question,” explained Bezich. “These are called ‘infill’ properties, which aim to reduce the imprint and density of a particular affordable-housing site.”

 

Commissioner Jeffrey Kasko stated that any funds used to purchase current or any future properties, come completely from the borough’s housing trust fund, which exists for the express purpose of paying for affordable-housing projects. 

“We’re looking forward to the project in the back (of borough hall) and we’re actively looking for other opportunities to expand our affordable-housing imprint,” Rochford added.

In other news

  • Commissioners also unanimously authorized the advertising of sealed bids for extensive concrete repair work throughout the borough, the result of damaging storms that hit the area in late June and caused a number of trees to become uprooted. The borough was required to seek bids, as the cost of repairing the damage was much higher than the established $17,500 threshold. All bids are to be received no later than 10 a.m. on Aug. 12, in Room 101 of borough hall. 
  • The anticipated next virtual public session of the three-member body is expected to be held at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 17.