Home Haddonfield News ‘We get it’: Bancroft informational meeting results in disruptions

‘We get it’: Bancroft informational meeting results in disruptions

Residents question legality of vote and protest the impact more housing will have on the school systems

Emily Liu/The Sun
More than 60 people in person and on Zoom attended the public input meeting to hear from the Woodmont Property developers their plans to develop the Bancroft property.

On Monday, June 17, Stephen Santola, executive vice president and general counsel for Woodmont Properties, prepared to give an overview on the 120 new luxury apartments to be developed at the historic Bancroft property on Hopkins Lane.

He was met with a full house of community members. Woodmont Properties was appointed as the conditional developers of the property. Of the 120, 18 are slated to be “affordable housing.”

The proposed apartments are what Woodmont Properties specializes in: luxury amenity rental units. These include features like having nine-foot ceilings, dual sinks in the bathrooms, and walk-in closets. Along with having an outdoor pool, a fitness center, game room, and golf simulators available to residents 24/7, as described by Santola.

The third aspect of the project is having good management.

In spite of the prospects of the project, the meeting was rife with tension as many of the residents saw the development as a poor use of the space citing they did not want more housing in Haddonfield.

The borough has several other housing projects already in place, such as The Place at Snowden, which will bring 20-units affordable housing, 18 units of housing at 118 and 122 Ellis St., with three units being affordable housing.

School officals at a recent board of education meeting discussed the potential impact of overcrowding the school districts. Many classes are already at capacity.

Prior to the meeting, residents from Haddonfield Encouraging Responsible Development were handing out flyers that advocated for keeping the Bancroft property as a green space and using it as a park to alleviate the potential strain to the school district. The flyers also questioned the legality of the vote claiming former Commissioner Kevin Roche allegedly sold his house prior to the vote–meaning he was potentially ineligible to hold office according to a state statute.

Neither Borough Solicitor Salvatore Siciliano nor Roche were available to comment during the meeting. Siciliano has not responded to the request for comment by The Sun.

To appease the crowd who repeatedly interrupted the presentation with questions and jeering, Santola changed the format to a question-and-answer session.

“The bottom line is that we’ve built in lots of great towns with great school districts,” Santola said. “We get it. I live in a town with a great school district. I get it. But at some point, this conversation has to be data-driven. It can’t be, ‘You don’t understand Haddonfield, it’s different here.’

“I had the same conversation at West Windsor.”

Santola noted that as many people were concerned with the potential influx of kids coming into the town and into the school districts. He cited a Rutgers study that found that “for every 17 market-value apartments, you typically get one school-aged kid, but you get one school-aged kid for around every 1.3 affordable apartments.”

He emphasized that whether it is at Bancroft or anywhere else that the borough places the 18 units of required affordable housing, the town will likely see an influx of kids due to this requirement.

“A wide share of the student population is coming from the affordable apartment homes, which are coming no matter what,” Santola explained. “And it’s not just your problem. I deal with this problem across the state and I deal with it in my own hometown, but that is the reality.”

The proposed units will be 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments, with only the affordable units having some 3-bedroom units because it is required by law that 20% of the affordable housing will be 3-bedroom and 20% would be 1-bedroom, with the rest being 2-bedroom apartments.

Emily Liu/The Sun
Stephen Santola tries to speak above the crowd’s questions during the public input meeting on the Bancroft parcel on June 17.

Other concerns raised by residents were the Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program, the need to verify the traffic impact, and the environmental impact.

Residents proposed having age-restricted housing to alleviate the potential influx of children but Santola emphasized that within the affordable housing, they were limited in how many of the homes could be age-restricted.

Santola said they have only been listed as the conditional redeveloper and at this stage of the planning process, they did not even have the architectural renderings. The purpose of the meeting was primarily to inform and get feedback from the town.

Exit mobile version