NIMBY Cries Stall Proposed Rehabilitation Center in Haddonfield
“Where others see problems, O’Neill sees potential,” reads the O’Neill Properties Group mission statement. That attitude must be coming in handy for developer Brian O’Neill right about now. Per the Inquirer, Haddonfielders are putting up staunch “Not In My Back Yard” opposition to his plans of putting a rehab center at the site of the former Bancroft School.
Why the aversion to the parochial school savior’s project? For one thing, the building would be across from Haddonfield Memorial High School and just two blocks the local elementary school. This proximity has not sat well with parents and other locals: “I cannot imagine a worse site than right next to a high school,” former Mayor Jack Tarditi was quoted as saying last week.
In response to this, O’Neill appears to have opted to play it safe should the outcome be in his favor or not. Inky’s Kevin Riordan reports he’s purportedly applying for a zoning variance today, while also joining officials in shopping around for an alternate property for his proposed addiction treatment center, which would be part of his new Recovery Centers of America brand. This is the man who was told by the Dalai Lama, “If you hold it tight, you can crush it, but if you let it go, it will fly back to you,” after all.
Riordan adds that developers had made other proposals–such as housing–but that the borough is making plans to purchase the 19-acre property itself. If that will ever happen is a whole other thing, in addition to the fact that they can’t seem to decide what to do with the land:
Some residents want virtually the entire site preserved as open space. Others are suspicious of any proposal that might involve or somehow lead to the construction of affordable housing, perhaps the only thing some in Haddonfield would find scarier as a neighbor than a rehab.
Now, with a clear civic consensus against the rehab, what’s unclear is how, or how much, the borough would pay for the property.