Fans, foes sound off on Haddonfield's Gill Tract plan

Posted: July 03, 2014

In a hearing that at times felt more like a trial, the Haddonfield Planning Board considered a hotly contested subdivision in the Gill Tract section Tuesday night.

Attorneys and engineers for the would-be developers of 605 Warwick Rd. and their staunch resident opponents dueled over such project details as whether the application needed a traffic study.

After nearly an hour and a half, the board managed only to declare the application complete. Testimony on the merits of the application was yet to begin, making it likely the matter would be continued in August.

Local developer Mark DeFeo and his partners are seeking permission to divide 605 Warwick into three lots.

The plan also calls for tearing down a large stone house located on the property, which occupies slightly more than one acre.

Subdivision neighbors and other town residents turned out in force to oppose the project, which they have argued would be out of scale with much of the rest of the neighborhood, eroding its character. They contended that the redevelopment violated the borough's Master Plan and that it would worsen flooding and drainage problems.

Tuesday night, they packed the hearing.

Initially, the developer proposed dividing the property into four lots. In what the developer's lawyer Donald Cofsky characterized as an effort to compromise, that proposal was changed to three lots and preserved most of the existing house. That proposal was withdrawn at last month's board meeting, disappointing the many opponents who packed the hearing room.

The subdivision encountered criticism from residents beyond the stately Gill Tract who raised the issue of teardowns - partially or entirely demolishing sound houses to make way for something new that may be larger or denser than what was there before.


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