Update/March 15: The township extended the moratorium on the issuance of all new demolition permits for 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-family buildings or structures for an additional 30 days.
Montclair is responding to an outcry from residents after the demolition of two homes this week, 14 Undercliff and 172 Lloyd Road, considered by many to be historic. Acting Township Manager Timothy F. Stafford, Esq. has issued an administrative order effective immediately Friday, instituting a 30-day moratorium on the issuance of new demolition permits for 1, 2, 3 and 4 family buildings and structures in the township of Montclair.
The 30-day moratorium would prevent any additional homes from being demolished and would give the township time to address the many 1, 2, 3 and 4 family buildings and structures that are culturally, architecturally and historically significant and are currently not protected.
Montclair’s governing body can use the time to consider revisions to the township codes or implement a new “no knock down law”.
Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson strongly supports the order.
Montclair resident Ryan Smyth, who emailed town council members, manager and attorney voicing disappointment over the demolition at 14 Undercliff, encouraged others on social media to put pressure on the township to preserve its historic character.
Friday’s administrative order, effective immediately, would not affect any permit application currently pending. It would only apply to demolition permit applications for 1, 2, 3 or 4 family buildings or structures that are filed after February 15, 2019. The order would also not apply to any application to demolish any 1, 2, 3 or 4 family building or structure deemed unfit for occupancy by the Construction Official or 1, 2, 3 or 4 family building or structure that is in immediate danger of collapse.
Planning Board member Martin Schwartz has also been vocal about preserving Montclair and pushing to put in place a revised “no knock down law” for historic homes to replace what was eliminated in 2012.
Only a few homes in Montclair are currently designated historic. Schwartz has encouraged Planning Board members to consider a “light preservation zone” for the township that would protect homes 75 years or older from an automatic knockdown.
Unlike Montclair, other New Jersey municipalities, including Jersey City, have maintained their no knock down protections for older properties. Some have used designated local historic lists as the basis for a “notice” requirement to owners. Montclair could have done something similar using the list of historic homes compiled by the Junior League in 1982.
The two homes destroyed this week are expected to be replaced by an almost six-acre compound; the owner is 14 Undercliff LLC. 172 Lloyd Road sold in July 2018 for $3,400,000. The 1907 center hall colonial is situated on 2.4 acres of land bordering Eagle Rock Reservation. Taxes in 2016 were $50,069.
14 Undercliff, a single family home built as a Victorian in 1865 and then later remodeled as a Tudor in 1924, was sold in January 2018 for $3,885,000. Taxes in 2017 were $68,097 for the property situated on just over 3 acres.
Official statement from Township manager:
Based upon feedback received over the last five days, given that the Township has many 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-family buildings and structures that are culturally, architecturally and historically significant, given that it is in the Township’s best interest, and in the absence of good cause shown, I shall issue on Friday, February 15, 2019 an Administrative Order instituting a thirty (30) day moratorium on the issuance of new demolition permits for 1- 2-, 3- and 4-family buildings and structures. During this time, the Governing Body can consider any relevant amendments to the Township Code.
This Administrative Order would be effective immediately and would not affect any permit application that is currently pending but would only apply to demolition permit applications for 1-, 2-, 3- or 4-family buildings or structures that are filed after February 15, 2019. Further this Administrative Order would not apply to any application to demolish any 1-, 2-, 3- or 4-family building or structure deemed unfit for occupancy by the Construction Official or 1-, 2-, 3- or 4-family building or structure that is in immediate danger of collapse.