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Zoning Approved for Brandywine Expansion

The Haddonfield assisted-living facility seeks to expand by 65 percent.

After a nearly six-hour meeting, the borough zoning board unanimously approved a plan for a major expansion of a retirement home early Wednesday morning.

The approval of a preliminary and final site plan, and a use variance, ends a contentious seven-month gauntlet of land-use boards, and clears the way to demolish and reconstruct of the facility.

"Our residents will get to come home soon and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to provide services in the borough of Haddonfield," said Brenda Bacon, executive director of Brandywine Senior Living, a for-profit company that owns retirement homes in five other states, including one in Moorestown.

Bacon said the next step is to get approval for the project from the state Department of Community Affairs. She hopes to break ground in March and complete the project before the end of 2013.

The company plans to expand its aging assisted-care facility at 132 Warwick Rd. 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.

Brandywine says it needs the upgrades to demolish the existing 59-year-old structure and upgrade it with amenities such as showers in the units and widened hallways to accommodate dual wheelchairs. An existing historic home that acts as the front facade of the facility will remain unaltered.

The plan had galvanized some neighbors in opposition. About two dozen turned out Tuesday and sat through hour after hour of building professionals testifying about the project to the zoning board. After the meeting and after addressing the board to urge them not to approve the proposal, Dave Gottardi, a leader of residents against the project, said the fight is not over.

"Next, it's on to the courts," he said at the end of the marathon meeting.

Brandywine is prepared to spend up to $16 million to renovate the Warwick Road site, including underground parking. The company expects to pay $320,000 a year in taxes to Haddonfield 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 won an approval from the borough planning board after a series of contentious meetings. The process included two rejections from the borough Historic Preservation Commission, which were overruled by the planning board.

Mike McCready December 21, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Reed - It's an existing facility with lights. They are not installing new lights. And another thing, I love how Gottardi so cavalierly says "Next, it's on to the courts" and couldn't care less that all of us taxpayers now have to pay an attorney to defend this frivolous lawsuit. Dude, you lost. Twice. Just admit defeat, accept it, and move on.
Reed Rothchild December 21, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Mike, You statement couldn't be more inaccurate: "It's an existing facility with lights. They are not installing new lights." By the looks of the new proposal (picture above) the footprint and building will be completely changed and expanded. There is ZERO chance that there won't be a significant more amount of external light fixtures adjacent to and around the new (much larger) facility...most likely encroaching into the backyards of the nearby homes. I don't understand your logic? Please feel free to elaborate.
Mike McCready December 21, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Reed - Ahh maybe you're right, but it's not my backyard so I don't care!
Tax Paying Resident December 22, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Open arms and closed eyes (and ears)
I checked the facts in Haddonfield December 29, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Bottom line planning and zoning cannot vote against the codes - if they do the applicant can take legal action against our town. A case we cannot win. Therefore we spend our tax money defending a case we cannot win. A waste of our money. If you want change you must focus on changing the codes. I'm sure that brandywine legal team knew this simple fact BEFORE the advised to by the property...it's simple because they read our code. I'm sure if everyone read our code they would understand this simple fact. The little guy didn't lose - the code was enforced.

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