New HPC Rules Grow Out of Cemetery Fence Scrum
Haddonfield commissioners agree on new rules for the Historic Preservation Commission in the wake of a lawsuit.
Mary Ann Campling is convinced that if new rules borough commissioners are considering for the Historic Preservation Commission were in place several months ago she wouldn't be suing Haddonfield today.
Borough commissioners approved an ordinance with changes to HPC guidelines this week on first reading. The changes will add more details to what constitutes a major change in a property and when that needs to be reviewed by the full HPC.
The changes come in the wake of a lawsuit against the borough planning board, which overruled an HPC recommendation to deny a request by the Haddonfield United Methodist Church to replace an aging metal, cyclone-type fence with a 6-foot, wood panel fence at its cemetery on Kings Highway East. The fence was not deemed to be a major change on the more than a century old property and was approved by the planning board over the protest of neighbors on Lee Avenue, whose small, rear yards bordered the cemetery.
Neighbors complained that the new fence eliminated a sight line that had been present for years through the cyclone-type fence and affected their quality of life by hemming in their tiny yards. They also claimed the new fence did not extend as far as the old one did and left gaps between properties that allowed pets to escape.
"Now it's very clearly cut defined what can and can't be done," Campling said this week after a commissioner's meeting. "I don't know that the new rules will affect my suit. So, I guess the only thing I can do, though I took one for the team, is to make sure what happened to us won't happen to other Haddonfield residents."
Campling is suing the borough in Superior Court for approving the fence. The commissioners this week appointed borough Solicitor Mario Iacovoli to represent them in the suit because the Pete Lundgren, the planning board solicitor, is a member of the United Methodist Church and thus has a conflict of interest. Lundgren did not participate in the fence ruling before the planning board.
Iacovoli, who is paid a flat fee as solicitor, will make $125 hourly for his work on the fence lawsuit.