Prospect of Affordable Housing Still Rankles Haddon Twp. Neighbors
Mayor Randy Teague plans another meeting with neighbors in West Collingswood Extension.
Haddon Township Mayor Randy Teague said he wants to "slow down" a proposal to establish a redevelopment zone near the Black Horse Pike and Walnut Avenue.
Teague said he plans to meet with neighbors at the West Collingswood Extension Civic Association building on Lynne Avenue at 7:30 p.m. on March 20 to walk them through the proposal with township engineers and planners.
"After walking away from the last meeting, they felt so strongly about the issue and there may have been miscommunication about the process," Teague said, referring to a tense, two-hour meeting on Jan. 30. "Some folks felt we were rushing things through and they were getting screwed, this is politics and all that."
Teague stood in front of a sometimes raucous crowd of about 150 neighbors and was peppered with question about a proposal to build a 52-unit affordable housing apartment complex. The housing plan was floated by the Walters Group and would be located on the Black Horse Pike Auto Complex on the Black Horse Pike and Walnut Avenue.
The complex is in foreclosure and the Walters Group had presented a plan to Teague to buy it and build apartments. The firm also has approved plans to build market-rate apartments near the township's main business district on Haddon Avenue in Westmont. There are no plans for affordable units there, which triggered a lawsuit by a local housing advocacy group.
Teague and the two other township commissioners, John Foley and Paul Dougherty, sent a resolution to the planning board in in January to consider designating the auto complex as a redevelopment zone. That designation allows township officials to have some control over the use of the property and also allows for incentives to builders, such as a PILOT, a payment in lieu of taxes agreement.
The planning board in February assigned township engineers to do a study of the auto complex area to see if it can be declared a redevelopment zone. While that process is playing out, Teague said he wanted to reengage with the neighbors there to explain why a redevelopment zone, with or without an affordable housing complex, is a good idea.
"A redevelopment zone gives us some protection," Teague said. "If someone buys that property and puts a restaurant or a shopping center, it would draw more people into the community. Having meetings like this helps both sides. This process is not a one-way street."
Calls and emails to residents in the area were not immediately returned.