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Borough solves land use dispute by agreeing to by property

This blog has written previously about the conflict in Haddonfield Township that resulted when a private developer put forth a plan to purchase the campus of a private school and convert the property into a drug and alcohol treatment center. The neighbors organized into vociferous opposition and brought the project to a halt. What appeared to be an intractable real estate dispute, pitting neighbors against the developer and the borough, may now be resolved by the borough's agreement to buy the land and devote it to public use and private housing.

At its meeting on Jan. 14, 2016, the Haddonfield Board of Commissioners voted to approve two agreements-in-principle that would ultimately transfer the Bancroft School property to the borough for a variety of public uses. The first agreement is scheduled close on June 30 and will result in the sale of the developer's interest in the school property to the borough. The school will be able to rent the campus until it completes its move to a new campus in Mount Laurel.

The second agreement calls for the sale by the school to the borough for a price of $12.9 million. The original developer will retain an option to buy 8.2 acres for $5.5 million to develop market-rate housing for persons older than 55. The agreement contains a number of other contingencies that allow the developer to waive its option for a $600,000 payment from the borough.

The various parties seem pleased by this solution. The borough has resolved a long-standing dispute, the school will be able to move its campus and the developer will have the option to build housing on the land. The complexity of the two agreements shows how the services of an experienced real estate attorney can assist in creating a solution for such disputes. A knowledgeable real estate lawyer can use detailed knowledge of Pennsylvania's real estate laws to structuring purchase agreements, draft option contracts and suggest other transactional details that can satisfy the interests of all of the parties.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, "A new plan underway for Haddonfield's Bancroft property," Rita Giordano, Jan. 14, 2016

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