HADDONFIELD CONSENTS TO BANCROFT REDEVELOPMENT
ZONE SUIT DISMISSAL
At their February 13, 2007 public meeting, the Haddonfield Borough Commissioners approved a resolution consenting to the dismissal of the suit brought by Bancroft Neurohealth, Inc. which challenged the Borough’s designation of the Bancroft campus as a redevelopment area. The terms of the dismissal allows Bancroft to re-file the suit at a later time, after the Borough enacts a redevelopment plan for the site.
“This action will save us substantial legal fees now and will keep us focused on the merits of a plan for the Bancroft site, rather than being distracted by litigation,” said Mayor Tish Colombi.
The resolution authorizes Borough Solicitor Mario Iavicoli to sign a consent order which dismisses the suit without prejudice and provides that, after the Borough adopts a redevelopment plan for the site and if Bancroft re-files its suit, “the Court shall consider the challenge to the plan and the challenge to the redevelopment designation as having been filed within the time frame required under the applicable Court Rule.” Bancroft must re-file within 45 days of adoption of the plan.
“This action preserves all of Haddonfield’s rights with respect to redevelopment of the Bancroft site,” said Commissioner Ed Borden, who is also a member of the Borough’s Planning Board. “The advantage of this step is that we avoid legal fees now and can litigate any challenge to the redevelopment designation and the plan at one time.”
Commissioner Neal Rochford also voted for the resolution, saying, “This seems to be a common sense way to avoid duplicative litigation at a time when the final plan had not been formulated.”
END OF RELEASE
For further information, the press may contact Borough Administrator Richard Schwab at 429-4700 ext. 215.
February 13, 2007
Authorization to Sign Order and Stipulation of Dismissal –
Bancroft Redevelopment Zone Appeal
WHEREAS the parties in the law suit captioned, Bancroft NeuroHealth v. Borough of Haddonfield, et al, have agreed to dismiss without prejudice the pending law suit regarding the designation of Bancroft’s Haddonfield property to be an area in need of redevelopment; and
WHEREAS in the dismissal Order and Stipulation of Dismissal, Bancroft has a right to re-institute the law suit no later than 45 days after Haddonfield adopts a redevelopment plan for the site.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Mario A. Iavicoli, Solicitor for the Borough of Haddonfield, is hereby authorized to sign the Order and Stipulation of Dismissal which will dismiss the suit without prejudice.
Fiscal Impact Analysis and Open Space Feasibility Study for the Bancroft Site
The Borough is sponsored a public information meeting on Monday, November 27th at 7:30 pm in the Borough Hall Auditorium, for Borough Planners Heyer, Gruel & Associates to present their “Fiscal Impact Study of Alternative Options for the Bancroft Site.
This was an opportunity for those attending to ask his/her questions about the study's methodology, data and analysis. The results of this study arean important element in making decisions about future potential uses of the Bancroft property if the current use is discontinued. Click below to access the report. It is also available for purchase for $7 at the Borough Hall, Room 101 or may be read at the Borough Hall or the Borough Library during normal business hours.
“Public Meeting was held June 26th at 7:30 p.m. in the Borough Hall Auditorium. The Borough scheduled this meeting to be conducted by Heyer, Gruel & Associates to present key issues and a preliminary list of key objectives and recommendations for the “reuse” of the Bancroft site. By the end of the meeting they narrowed a list of options to two or three scenarios for further study, in addition to the possibility of acquisition for open space.
The Borough, by a resolution passed at the May 23, 2006 Commissioner Meeting, authorized Heyer, Gruel & Associates to put together the plan for the site under the Redevelopment Zone Regulations and will be holding a public meeting on the subject on June 26, 2006 at 7:30 p.m. in the Borough Hall Auditorium
April 25, 2006
RESOLUTION OF THE BOROUGH OF HADDONFIELD, IN THE COUNTY OF CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY ACKNOWLEDGING AND ACCEPTING THE RECOMMENDATION OF THE HADDONFIELD PLANNING BOARD TO THE BOROUGH TO DETERMINE THAT THE BANCROFT SITE REFERENCED IN THE REDEVELOPMENT AREA DETERMINATION REPORT - BANCROFT SITE REDEVELOPMENT AREA DATED OCTOBER, 2005 PREPARED BY HEYER, GRUEL AND ASSOCIATES CONSTITUTES AN AREA IN NEED OF REDEVELOPMENT AS SUCH TERM IS DEFINED IN THE LOCAL REDEVELOPMENT AND HOUSING LAW
WHEREAS, the Commissioners of the Borough of Haddonfield (the “Borough”) by Resolution #2005-08-09-161 adopted August 9, 2005 pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-6(a) authorized and directed the Haddonfield Planning Board (the “Planning Board”) to undertake a preliminary investigation to determine if a specific area located in the Borough, commonly known as the Bancroft School or Bancroft Site and consisting of two parcels, namely Block 13, Lot 25, which is a 6.1 acre site located on the west side of Hopkins Lane, adjacent to Haddonfield Memorial High School, and Block 14, Lot 2, which is a 12.6 acre site located on the east side of Hopkins Lane, adjacent to county parkland to the north and east (hereinafter referred to as the “Bancroft Site”), constitutes an area in need of redevelopment and/or rehabilitation according to the criteria set forth in the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law (N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-1 et seq.) (the “Redevelopment Law”); and
WHEREAS, the Planning Board after providing appropriate notice of a public hearing to consider the preliminary investigation and the report prepared by Heyer Gruel entitled, “Redevelopment Area Determination Report – Bancroft Site Redevelopment Area”, dated October, 2005 (the “Report”) conducted a public hearing on April 11, 2006 to consider such investigation; and
WHEREAS, the members of the Planning Board, following its review of the Report and the comments, testimony and evidence presented at a comprehensive public hearing held on April 11, 2006 to discuss, analyze and evaluate the Report and to consider the comments and concerns of the public, adopted a resolution (the “Planning Board Resolution”) making a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners of the Borough to determine that the Bancroft Site constituted an area in need of redevelopment pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:12-1 et seq.; and
WHEREAS, the Planning Board Resolution has been filed with the Clerk of the Borough; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Commissioners of the Borough, one of who is a member of the Planning Board, after consideration of the Planning Board Resolution and based on the actions referenced in the preambles hereof, and after having attended the entire Planning Board session as members of the general public without participation or discussion, desires to determine, based on the determinations and recommendations of the Planning Board, that the Bancroft Site constitutes an area in need of redevelopment in accordance with the provisions of the Redevelopment Law cited above.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the members of the Board of Commissioners of the Borough of Haddonfield as follows:
Section 1. It is hereby determined that the Bancroft Site constitutes an area in need of redevelopment in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-5.
Section 2. Pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-6(b)(5), a certified copy of this resolution, along with the Planning Board Resolution and the Report, shall be filed with the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (the “Commissioner”) for review.
Section 3. The determination of the Borough made in this resolution shall, upon its effective date, be binding and conclusive upon all persons affected by the determination. Notice of this determination, by conformed certified copy of this resolution, shall be served, within 10 days after the determination, upon each person, if any, (as provided by the Planning Board), who filed a written objection thereto with the Planning Board and stated, in or upon the written submission, an address to which notice of the determination may be set.
Section 4. This resolution shall take effect upon the approval of the Commissioner, or, as provided in N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-6(b)(5), 30 days from receipt by the Commissioner if the Commissioner does not issue an approval or disapproval thereof within such time.
April 11, 2006 Planning Board Resolution
RESOLUTION OF THE HADDONFIELD PLANNING BOARD MAKING A RECOMMENDATION TO THE BOROUGH COMMISSIONERS TO DETERMINE THAT THE BANCROFT SITE REFERENCED IN THE REDEVELOPMENT AREA DETERMINATION REPORT - BANCROFT SITE REDEVELOPMENT AREA DATED OCTOBER, 2005 PREPARED BY HEYER, GRUEL AND ASSOCIATES CONSTITUTES AN AREA IN NEED OF REDEVELOPMENT AS SUCH TERM IS DEFINED IN THE LOCAL REDEVELOPMENT AND HOUSING LAW
WHEREAS, the Commissioners of the Borough of Haddonfield (the “Borough”) by Resolution #2005-08-09-161 adopted August 9, 2005 pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-6(a) authorized and directed the Haddonfield Planning Board to undertake a preliminary investigation to determine if a specific area located in the Borough, commonly known as the Bancroft School or Bancroft Site and consisting of two parcels namely Block 13, Lot 25, which is a 6.1 acre site located on the west side of Hopkins Lane, adjacent to Haddonfield Memorial High School, and Block 14, Lot 2, which is a 12.6 acre site located on the east side of Hopkins Lane, adjacent to county parkland to the north and east (hereinafter referred to as the “Bancroft Site”), constitutes an area in need of redevelopment and/or rehabilitation according to the criteria set forth in the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law (N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-1 et seq.); and
WHEREAS, appropriate notice of the public hearing to consider the preliminary investigation and the report prepared by Heyer Gruel has been provided in accordance with N.J.S.A 40A:12A-6(b)(3); and
WHEREAS, the Borough obtained the services of Heyer, Gruel and Associates, certified licensed planners in the State of New Jersey and located in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to assist the Planning Board and to undertake the preliminary investigation; and
WHEREAS, Heyer Gruel has prepared a report entitled, “Redevelopment Area Determination Report – Bancroft Site Redevelopment Area”, dated October, 2005 (the “Report”) and has submitted this Report to the Planning Board for its analysis and consideration; and
WHEREAS, the members of the Planning Board have had an opportunity to review the Report and have conducted a comprehensive public hearing to discuss, analyze and evaluate the Report and to consider the testimony, comments and concerns of the public on April 11, 2006; and
WHEREAS, the Planning Board has considered the Report as well as the testimony of Heyer Gruel and others including the comments and other evidence presented by members of the public and others; and
WHEREAS, the Planning Board desires to make a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners of the Borough in connection with the Bancroft Site;
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the members of the Planning Board of the Borough of Haddonfield as follows:
Section 1. It is hereby determined based on the evidence, documents, testimony and other considerations as set forth in the preambles hereof that the Bancroft Site constitutes an area in need of redevelopment in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-5.
Section 2. The Planning Board recommends that the Borough Commissioners determine that the Bancroft Site constitutes an area in need of redevelopment pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-1 et seq., specifically N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-5.
Section 3. A certified copy of this resolution shall be filed with the Clerk of the Borough.
Section 4. This resolution shall take effect immediately.
Motion by Diane Marini, second by Nancy Martin.
Board members voting in favor of the resolution: Johnson, Bordon, Bucci, Harrison, Lieberman, Marini, Martin, Rauschenberger and Rizzuto.
I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true, accurate, and complete copy of the resolution adopted by the Planning Board at a special meeting of the board on the 11th day of April, 2006.
Steven P. Walko, Acting Secretary
Haddonfield board backs Bancroft redevelopment zone
April 13, 2006 link to Philadelphia Inquirer Article
A Message from Haddonfield’s Borough Commissioners
about the Bancroft Property and the Redevelopment Zone process
April 7, 2006
As our town’s Planning Board approaches its decision on whether on not to determine that the Bancroft parcel is “an area in need of redevelopment”, it is important that all of our citizens know what is actually under consideration and its potential impact. We need to work together as a community on this historic opportunity and to build trust in the openness of the process. A certain amount of misinformation is in circulation and we wanted to do all we can to see that all of our citizens have accurate information on what is being considered and its advantages and disadvantages.
1. The only thing that will be considered on April 11 is whether or not to recommend to the Commissioners that the Bancroft parcel be declared an area in need of redevelopment. This is the first step in declaring the Bancroft property a “redevelopment zone.” More on why this may be an advantage for the Borough below. If the Planning Board votes yes and the Commissioners concur, the next step is for all of us, working through the Planning Board, to develop a common vision of what we want there to be on the site. In NO SENSE does such a decision mean or suggest that there will be “high density development” or any other development on the site. In no sense does it mean that the property cannot become open space.
2. No Commissioner has said that they are in favor of “high density development” of the site or anything like it. In fact, none of us have expressed any settled opinion as to what is to go there. To the contrary, what we have said is that we should do everything we can to explore uses of the site that are beneficial to the whole community at the least possible cost.
3. The Redevelopment Zone mechanism has substantial advantages for our town. In fact, use of the redevelopment zone mechanism may increase our ability to gain open space at the Bancroft site. ” What are the advantages that the Borough gains by taking this action?
- We are permitted to impose the equivalent of a mini-master plan for the site. This would include the specific uses that we, as a town, decide are to be permitted on the site. This could include open space, age restricted housing, affordable housing, or whatever we think is appropriate.
- We are permitted to negotiate with the owner or any developer regarding payments to be made by them to the town for increased costs that any plan might generate.
- It serves notice on any potential developer of the town’s focus on the site and of the specific uses we want to see there.
- It would allow us to specify that payments in lieu of taxes from any development on the site be used exclusively for debt service on some specific item, such as an open space purchase of another portion of the site.
- In short, it would put at our disposal the most powerful and flexible planning tool available to municipalities in New Jersey.
4. There is no free lunch. Some have “demanded” that the Commissioners devise a way to (a) purchase the entire property, (b) convert it to open space, which would involve the demolition of dozens of buildings, many of which contain asbestos and other hazardous substances, (c) construct fields, bike paths, park spaces, etc. on this site, (d) solve our COAH problem, (e) avoid any development on the property which might actually generate some tax ratables, and (f) decrease our taxes at the same time. This is simply not practical. Nobody would be happier than your commissioners if we could make this happen, but we must also be realistic if we are to be successful in maximizing the public benefit at the Bancroft site.
We have explored and will continue to explore potential non-Haddonfield sources of funding for a purchase of the property, but none to date have expressed optimism about contributing the major portion of the purchase price. The good news is that the Camden County Open Space Fund has expressed real interest in participation. This makes a great deal of sense as the Bancroft property borders the county park at Hopkins Pond and a portion of the property would be a natural addition to the park. We have spoken to members of the freeholder board and the Division of Environmental Affairs, and they have expressed a willingness to work with us.
Opportunities for other third party funding are less clear. By way of example, Commissioner Borden asked Chris Jage of the NJ Conservation Foundation at the recent Civic Association open space forum what his view was of the most likely source for outside funding. His response was the Environmental Infrastructure Trust. But the Trust provides only loans, not outright grants, which our taxpayers would have to repay, and only for purchases that will actually enhance water quality. This would probably apply to only a portion of the Bancroft property and it is that part that the county might be most likely to consider for purchase as it borders the Hopkins Pond county park. Thus, the Infrastructure Trust loan might not even be usable for this portion of the property.
Moreover, the per-acre price asked by Bancroft is enormously high. You may have seen statements in the paper to the effect that, some months ago, Bancroft sought bids for a minimum price of $1 million per acre or $19.2 million. By comparison, the NJ Conservation Foundation recently brokered an agreement to purchase 78 acres in Bedminster Township for $1.25 million or $16,025 per acre. (http://njconservation.org/html/news/BlackRiverJournal04-06.pdf). Open space funds wisely seek to save as much open space with the limited funding available and this often means that parcels with high per acre costs are not as desirable.
We will continue to pursue every opportunity for open space funding energetically. There is nothing that your Commissioners would rather see than a plan whereby third parties provide us with funds to purchase the property at little or no cost to our taxpayers. But we must be hard headed about this. In these days of shrinking state and county budgets, funding of open space purchases in places like Haddonfield is simply not the highest priority. State open space funding is decreasing. (http://www.njconservation.org/html/news/BergenRecord02-20-06.pdf). We must be conscious of the fact that the majority of the funding for a Bancroft purchase may have to come from Borough tax revenues. We may well decide that this is a good use of our resources, but we must be realistic about funding as we discuss open space plans.
5. By far the greatest challenge that our town faces in dealing with the Bancroft property is our obligation to provide opportunities for the construction of affordable housing in Haddonfield. This obligation arises from our state constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court in the Mt. Laurel cases. We are in the midst of an administrative process before a state court-like agency called the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH).
COAH has indicated that we have an “unmet need” of at least 143 residential units, as well as a “growth share” based on future residential and commercial development potential. The plan the Borough has submitted to COAH proposes to address the unmet need by requiring that any new development of five or more residential units will include 20% affordable units. It is not certain that COAH will approve our plan and it is entirely possible that COAH will make substantial additional demands on the Borough. We expect to receive COAH’s response to our plan very shortly. Because of the total lack of vacant developable land, COAH is taking a hard look at what the Borough is doing to address its unmet need. Since Bancroft has now announced that is may sell, we expect to be required to address this reality.
All of this means that the goal of converting the property to open space is in conflict with our affordable housing obligation. Were there other locations in town where we could provide for affordable housing, this tension might be less, but providing a significant number of units elsewhere obviously presents its own challenges.
Some would urge that we simply rezone the entire property for open space. But this may be expensive and ultimately not successful. While the authority of a municipality to take such an action is broad, courts sometimes award money damages to property owners subject to such zoning changes for the diminution in the value of their property. Were this to happen, it would have to be paid out of Borough tax revenues. But even more important, it is not at all certain that COAH or the courts would uphold such an action. If they did not, Haddonfield would have lost its authority to plan for the site and be at the mercy of those who do not think first of the best interests of our town. It is for this reason that use of the redevelopment zone process may maximize the power of our town to control the future of the site.
6. The Commissioners have not been “negotiating in secret” with Bancroft. As you would expect of us, your borough government has been in contact with Bancroft’s management since Bancroft first expressed an interest in selling the property last spring. Early on, the Commissioners agreed that our designated point person for contact with Bancroft would be Mayor Colombi, and she has had about a half dozen conversations with Bancroft’s management since the spring. None have risen to the level of negotiations and no offers have been made by either side. Bancroft has not requested any concessions or accommodations from the Borough except that we delay the redevelopment process for a period of time while they considered whether they still intended to attempt to sell the property, to which we agreed. Now that Bancroft has said that it intends to renew its attempts to market the property, we have renewed that redevelopment process. Depending upon the results of the redevelopment process, the borough may later initiate discussions with Bancroft.
We have had a number of closed sessions with our lawyers and planners, and we may have some in the future. These have focused on strategies that the borough should follow in responding to Bancroft’s actions, including possible purchase of the property. They were closed sessions because we were receiving legal advice and because Bancroft and potential developers of the property would benefit from knowing the details of these strategies.
7. Other than through the use of eminent domain, we cannot make Bancroft sell to the Borough or sell for any particular price. Bancroft owns the property in the same way each of us owns our home. They can sell it to whoever they want for whatever price they want. There is no requirement that they give the Borough the first crack at the property and there is no way we can dictate the price. The only potential exception to this is our authority to condemn the property for a public purpose. Some have suggested that we do this, but we do not believe this is appropriate. As frustrated as we are with some of the things Bancroft has done, we are not and will not be in favor of using that power to force a school for disabled individuals out of our town so that we can have a park. Certainly, if Bancroft were to enter into an agreement with some developer, this would present an entirely different situation and the redevelopment zone designation would actually put us in an even stronger position to use eminent domain if we chose to do so.
8. It would be both foolish and potentially illegal to determine what the plan for the site will be before we decide whether it is an area in need of redevelopment. Our special counsel for this issue has advised us that there may be legal reasons not to combine the “area in need of redevelopment” designation with the formulation of the plan. But even more important is a very practical reason for separating the two. The formulation of the plan itself is likely to be the most expensive part of the process and the one that involves the most public input. It would be a waste of a great deal of money and public discussion if we thereafter decided that the property is not an area in need of redevelopment and therefore does not qualify to be a redevelopment zone. And, simply because we declare the property to be an “area in need” does not mean anything about what we will do in the plan.
9. Yes, we are certainly aware of the potential impact of development on our schools. Of course we know that substantial market rate development will put pressure on our schools and, as a result, our taxes. Of course we are doing everything we can to ameliorate this. This is another advantage of the redevelopment process in that this vehicle allows us greater flexibility and power in dealing with any potential development (if there is any such development at all) to prevent this impact by, for example, emphasizing age restricted housing or requiring greater contributions by the owner or developer to offset increased costs to our taxpayers.
10. Some development of some part of the site may occur. We must be honest with each other in saying that if we are not able to raise adequate funds from third parties or borough taxes to purchase the property and if we cannot address our COAH obligations in another way, there may be some limited development on the property. The goal in that situation must be to maximize the public benefit that is gained – both in tax revenues and in public use of the property -- and minimize the cost to our taxpayers. Before any such plan was approved, there would be full public discussion and broad opportunities for input.
We urge all who are interested in this important issue to let us know of your views. You can send an email to all of the Commissioners at http://www.haddonfieldnj.org/borough_email.php#commissioners.
Let’s all continue to work together to do what is best for all of our citizens at this historic time.
CLICK HERE to download The Bancroft Site Redevelopment Study. This is an extremely large file (5MB, 53 pages) and will take a while to download in its entirety.
CLICK HERE to see an aerial view of the Bancroft Site. This is a large, printable file and will take a while to load.