To the Editor: Haddonfield Commissoners Must Re-Examine Snowden Commons Affordable Housing Project


A Haddonfield resident worries that the proposed, 28-unit, Snowden Commons affordable housing project ‘doesn’t pass the smell test.’

October 28, 2019

Statue of Margaret Bancroft. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Bancroft is not the only land-use challenge in Haddonfield.

Affordable housing, otherwise known as Snowden Commons, has been quietly advancing through channels drawing little interest for even longer than Bancroft.

And yet, this essential project remains Haddonfield’s little secret.

Unless the borough changes course after the Nov. 5 election, it will house 28 low-and-moderate income families in a tiny, isolated lot behind the post office and borough hall. This could place as many as 140 people and their cars on a footprint that is shy of an acre.

Access to that lot is equally challenging: via a driveway next to Borough Hall, or Snowden Ave., a one-lane street with four houses that dumps onto the busiest intersection on Haddon Ave. In addition, the housing project will eat essential public parking, and possibly endanger the historic cottage formerly occupied by Interfaith Caregivers.

We can and must do better than this. Warehousing families in an attempt to bring diversity to our community does not pass the smell test.

Recently, two candidates for commissioner have started to take notice.

Commissioner Bob Marshall, who is running to keep his interim seat having been appointed in July, says he is “willing to meet and work with residents to discuss the reexamination of the Fair Share Housing agreement” and “keep abreast” of potential changes in state law that could impact the project.

While the governing body has singularly crafted this project without input from the Tatem School district, which would absorb these students, Marshall said the school district and Board of Education candidates “should be asked to state their position and plans” for the impact of the Snowden project.

Proposed area of redevelopment in Haddonfield. The red-bordered area describes the potential location of Snowden Commons. Credit: Borough of Haddonfield.

Newcomer candidate Colleen Bianco Bezich says the 28-unit project is entirely too dense for the space. She, too, promises to reexamine the plan.

Talking about Bancroft, rather than affordable housing, appears easier for candidates because most of the damage was done by prior commissioners, including Mayor Neal Rochford and Jeff Kasko, who currently serve [on the governing body].

Snowden on the other hand, will require officials going forward to take ownership of the outcome.

Both projects have been named in lawsuits.

Makes one wonder if a lawsuit is necessary to be heard by the occupants of Borough Hall.

As Haddonfield residents, we must hold our elected officials to a high standard. Don’t let them take the low road with a shameful project that makes affordable housing as separate and unequal as possible.

—Eileen Stilwell
Potter Street, Haddonfield

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