Historic District Ordinance to receive facelift

After 42 years, Haddonfield’s Historic District Ordinance is getting a facelift. Residents and borough representatives gathered on Monday, June 24, for a discussion, providing recommendations and concerns with the current rules and regulations.

Borough commissioners hired Carter van Dyke Associates — a Doylestown, Pa., based planning and landscape architectural firm that deals with historic preservation and revitalization — to aid in updating the ordinance.

“I think having meetings like this gives us an opportunity to try to figure out how to make the Historic District Ordinance better,” Historic Preservation Commission chairwoman Lee Albright said.

Many residents who gathered at the meeting were concerned with the current enforcement of the ordinance as well as the cost relating to proper maintenance of historic homes.

Carter van Dyke, founder of the firm, said there are three tiers the HPC looks at when a homeowner wants to update or repair his or her home.

According to van Dyke, the most preferred situation is a homeowner attempts to preserve the current condition of the home at which it was purchased. The second is the homeowner uses similar materials for replacement, while the third is the homeowner finds synthetic materials without changing the look of the building.

He said it is important to keep the structural and historic integrity of these historic buildings in Haddonfield.

“If you don’t, the costs to you become greater,” he said, adding a homeowner must apply for a permit before installing windows and siding. But a homeowner in the historic district must also meet the approval of the HPC.

“Someday, someone is going to have to maintain it,” he said.

The Historic Preservation Commission has guidelines on the borough’s website for various projects. Homeowners must also submit an application to the historic commission for approval. But residents felt there is a discrepancy pertaining to the qualifications laid out by the commission.

Another concern brought up at the meeting was with the areas bordering the historic district.

Mary Previte has been living in Haddonfield for the past 42 years. She believes the historic homes should not only be preserved, but their integrity should be protected from the surrounding area.

“Not many cities in the state are preserving their towns the way our town is trying to do so. I have been horrified in the last few years to see houses torn down almost at whim and ‘McMansions’ put in their place. They do not reflect our history at all. Maybe they are not in the historic district, but we lose something,” Previte said.

She said a “buffer zone” immediately adjacent to the historic district should be created and monitored to help preserve the “agricultural gems” in the borough.

“I think that ought to be something seriously considered. We are facing that in our neighborhood,” she said.

Albright said the reason for the meeting was to make sure all areas regarding both procedures and regulations are not missed.

According to Albright, meetings were set allowing input from the zoning board, planning board, borough commissioners and the HPC. The meeting with residents was one of the final meetings before the deadline of Aug. 30.

A survey will also be available for all residents to fill out and submit to the commission for input. Albright said the detailed survey and meeting are meant to gather input from the residents and revise the current ordinance, making it more efficient.

Educational resources and consultation, provided by HPC technical consultant Lisa Soderberg, are also available.

“Historic houses are a part of Haddonfield’s identity. We want to do our best to preserve it,” she said.

The survey is available on the borough’s website at www.haddonfieldnj.org. A paper copy is also available in Borough Hall.

For more information on the Historic Preservation Commission, visit http://www.haddonfieldnj.org/borough_boards-historic.php.