HPC Shoots Down Brandywine Nursing Home Expansion Again
The Haddonfield Historic Preservation Commission decides against nursing home in split vote.
The borough Historic Preservation Commission on Wednesday denied a request for a certificate of historical appropriateness for a proposed nursing home expansion for the second time in four months.
The 3-2 vote mirrored a HPC decision in May against a proposal by Brandywine Senior Living to expand the size of its facility at 132 Warwick Road.
HPC members William Bisirri, Toni Bonnette and Chairwoman Lee Albright all voted against the project. Susan Reintzel and Cynthia Byers voted in favor of granting a certificate of appropriateness to Brandywine. They all voted the same way in May.
The HPC is an advisory board to the borough planning board, which has the final say on the project. Brandywine is scheduled to appear there on Oct. 2.
Brandywine wants to expand the size of its two-story facility from 23,378 square feet to 35,569, about a 65 percent increase. The footprint of the building will grow from 9,880 square feet to 15,151, a nearly 63 percent increase. These dimensions were reduced by several hundred feet from the proposal presented to the planning board last month on this 2.46-acre property.
The planning board decided to send the application back to the HPC in July because Brandywine officials scaled back designs for rebuilding its facility between the time it was denied by the HPC in May and when they appeared before the planning board. In August, the HPC tabled a vote on the proposal because some members wanted to visit the site.
Albright praised Brandywine Wednesday for finally presenting a "thorough, complete" application, but still decided against it.
"At the end of the day, we felt a commercial building is not compatible with the neighborhood and would adversely affect the neighborhood," she said.
A nursing home has been on the site since 1952, but Albright said the proposed expansion will be increasing the size of a commercial building in a residential neighborhood in the borough historic district.
Brandywine is prepared to spend up to $16 million to renovate the Warwick Road site. It has other facilities in New Jersey, including Moorestown, and five other states. The for-profit company expects to pay $320,000 a year in taxes to Haddonfield yearly if the project is approved. The previous owner of the facility, formerly known as the Haddonfield Home, was a nonprofit company and paid no municipal taxes.
Brandywine CEO Brenda Bacon did not attend the hearing Wednesday. Last month when the HPC tabled the proposal, she told them she would be out of town for a previously scheduled business trip on Sept. 19. She vowed then to continue on after the HPC vote.
"Any delay delays the ability of our residents who were living in that building to return home," Bacon said. "Any delay prevents us from providing those services. We have to build, we have the winter coming on and the delay is unfortunate. But we remain committed to doing everything that the borough asks of us."
A small contingent of about a dozen neighbors near the site attended the meeting Wednesday, including David Gottardi, a former HPC chairman who led the fight against the facility. He praised the HPC decision on Wednesday as he had after its first ruling in May.
"They protected streetscapes and neighborhoods and green space," Gottardi said in May. "They protected a historic property from being gobbled up by a giant, oversized addition."