It has been more than a decade since the Haddonfield Board of Commissioners named the Bancroft site an area in need of redevelopment in 2006.
After a number of setbacks with a group of prominent residents over the years and with the developer, 2 Hopkins Lane LLC, the commissioners approved a court-ordered resolution at their May 22 meeting that seeks requests for qualifications and proposals on the property’s Block 14, Lot 2.
“The judge ordered us commissioners to take the action you see on the agenda, otherwise we face the possibility of our affordable-housing certification being revoked, because we have met all of the qualifications of our affordable-housing settlement through fair share other than the development of 10 units at Bancroft,” explained Mayor Colleen Bianco Bezich.
“That’s the reason for the action tonight.”
Borough Solicitor Salvatore Siciliano noted that 2 Hopkins Lane LLC would not be entitled to “walk-away” money because the company did not fulfill its contractual obligations.
“There is a contractual term that calls for a $600,000 payment to (the developer), but the borough’s position is that they have breached the agreement by not following it,” Siciliano noted. “So our legal position is that we do not owe him (2 Hopkins Lane) money.”
The resolution summarizes the property’s complex history with lawsuits from a prominent group of concerned residents over amendments to the redevelopment plan and a timeline of more recent developments, including the redeveloper getting a borough-issued notice of default on May 8.
For a future meeting with a judge, Siciliano said he anticipates offering specific timelines that anticipate responses from the Request for Proposals so the borough can choose a new redeveloper in the process.
Earlier in the commissioners’ meeting, the mayor addressed online misinformation about robberies in town and emphasized that residents should call the police with questions and make use of the Haddonfield Happenings app to stay informed.
“Those are your best sources for fact-based, accurate information,” she noted. “ … Unfortunately, we have seen a lot of misinformation on social media, whether it be the number of attempted burglaries or false burglaries or things that didn’t actually happen. And that often leads to more time for our officers to address and deal with.”
In other news:
- The commissioners approved introduction of a 2023 budget that includes a tax rate increase of 2.62 cents, and a tax rate of .5887.That amounts to about $137 a year for the average assessed home of $523,000. Commissioner Kevin Roche noted that the projected number for this year’s surplus is $3.1 million, slightly less than last year’s $3.11 million.
- Commissioner Frank Troy said the borough will do an inventory of trees and shrubs through a grant that will help them prioritize those that need to be pruned or taken down. The Shade Tree Commission’s Shade Tree Approved Resident Tree (START) pilot program – which allows residents without park strips or sidewalks to have a tree purchased and planted in their front yard – will continue.
- Two proclamations were read that acknowledged May as Jewish American Heritage Month and the first Friday in June as National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
There will be a public meeting regarding cell phone and smart device communication in Haddonfield on Monday, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., and a session for the public to learn about the Haddonfield Master Plan at 7 p.m. next Wednesday at borough hall.
This article was updated June 2, 2023 to correct $6,000 opt out clause to $600,000.