The mad rush for final approval of the borough’s first affordable housing project before the May 11 election appears to be over.
Despite enormous pressure from the borough and the project developer, on April 21, the Haddonfield Preservation Commission tabled the developer’s application to build 20 affordable units in the parking lot behind borough hall until its next regular meeting, May 19.
Armed with a team of lawyers and land-use professionals, Community Investment Strategies of Lawrenceville, badgered HPC at its April 21 virtual meeting, so it could seek final approval from the Planning Board on May 4, seven days before the municipal election. HPC had no legal counsel that night to help clarify some of the complex issues. HPC declined to vote citing an incomplete application and an unclear vision of what precisely the developer planned to do within the historic district.
Any attempt by the borough to bypass the HPC and go directly to the Planning Board before the election in order to lock down one of its largest and most significant housing projects in decades, in my opinion, would be a grave abuse of power.
Why have an historic commission if you ignore it? Why waste the enormous time volunteer board members invest in each application? Perhaps, it should be disbanded, if it is nothing but window dressing.
Should the commission decide to bypass the HPC, it should be done by public vote, so voters know which of the two incumbents running for re-election voted in favor.
Should they follow the rules — signaling that they, not the developer, are in charge — they should be congratulated for their judgment.