Letter to the Editor: Eileen Stilwell

Haddonfield resident and member of business community expresses doubt on current state of Snowden project.

To the Editor,

The recent Commission Meeting revealed the following  new and disappointing aspects of Haddonfield’s approach to affordable housing:

  • Commissioners used affordable housing as a bargaining chip in a real estate deal with Bancroft developer Brian O’Neill.
  • They have not used available resources, such as the Haddonfield Preservation Commission and a traffic engineer, to vet a plan for 20 apartments in the borough hall parking lot.
  • Parking; not construction of a safe, welcoming place for new residents is a priority.  
  • The project calls for additional surface coverage, which could put historic homes on Kings Highway and Potter Street in harm’s way. No plan to manage the water is available.
  • And finally, commissioners are poised to pass major zoning changes, without releasing a site plan. 

The meeting was held to adopt multiple zoning changes, including construction of a 45-foot apartment building – more than ten feet higher than currently permitted – and to exempt the project from two stormwater management regulations.  Instead of adopting the ordinance as planned, commissioners tabled it until after the Planning Board review on March 9.  

Borough Solicitor Mario Iavicoli explained for the first time why the Bancroft campus is required to build only ten affordable units, when local ordinance requires 20 percent, or in this case, 16 units. The borough took six units off the table to reach a settlement with the Bancroft developer, he said, and assigned them to the Snowden project.  

Would the project benefit from six fewer units?  No question. Instead, 20 families and their cars, cats and dogs will be crammed into highrise living on less than an acre.  The building or buildings ( number unknown without a site plan) will rise approximately 20 feet from the front lawns of Snowden Ave. residents. 

A realtor at the meeting inquired about 76 parking spaces to be eliminated by the project.  Mayor Neil Rochford said he did not know exactly how many would go, but I suspect the borough has calculated every inch to pack 80-to- 90 people into this unlikely space.

If the borough doesn’t want to sacrifice parking, why build a community in a parking lot in the first place?

Commissioner Colleen Bianco Bezich defended the process, calling it “transparent.”

Come May, all three commissioners are up for re-election. Your vote is secret, but the collective outcome is transparent.

Eileen Stilwell

Haddonfield, N.J.