Changes proposed to historic ordinance

Haddonfield is moving one step closer to having an updated and revised Historic District Ordinance. On Sept. 20, the Haddonfield planning board, zoning board and Historic Preservation Commission met in borough hall to review the proposed changes to the ordinance as well as give the public an opportunity to voice their concerns.

Leading the discussion on the new proposed ordinance was Carter van Dyke of Carter van Dyke Associates, a consultant hired to work beside the subcommittee on the revisions. Formed back in April, the subcommittee responsible for the new ordinance consists of members of the zoning board, planning board and the Historical Preservation Committee.

“The necessity was that the borough had matured, and through that maturity, we are challenged by a bunch of difficult topics that the ordinance of 1971 didn’t address,” planning board chair John LaProcido said about the need for a new ordinance.

LaProcido also described the revised ordinance as more “surgical.”

During the overview of the new ordinance, van Dyke explained the revision was a reflection of the goals of the subcommittee, which was to make a more “user-friendly” ordinance and to address issues that have been raised in prior years in dealing with historic landmarks and historic districts within the borough.

Some of the additions include a list of historic landmarks included in the Historic District Overlay section and adding requirements for public notice to be given to homes adjacent to any resident applying for a Certificate of Appropriateness, which was also revised to specify which projects would require a Certificate of Appropriateness.

In addition, revisions were also made to clauses on emergency repairs to a historical landmark, to grant residents the power to make immediate repairs in the event of an emergency without the prior consent of the Historic Preservation Commission.

“If a tree has fallen on their roof, they can now act to protect their property,” van Dyke said.

Concerns posed by the boards included that of zoning board chair Dave Hunt, who asked van Dyke if there was a way for an owner to “opt out” if their property was deemed historic.

While van Dyke explained that more substantial language may be applied in regard to opting out of a historic landmark designation, opting out of a historic district designation would prove to be more difficult, since the benchmark guideline currently allows for a historic district to be designated as long as there is a 60 percent compliance among owners within the district.

Later in the meeting, LaProcido urged van Dyke to include a clause giving some consideration to those opposed to a historic district designation or expansion.

Discussion also arose from the boards on the subject of whether historical properties are being identified as such at the time of property turnover and whether Realtors should be mandated to disclose such information.

Van Dyke explained that a separate ordinance would be needed to do so.

Other topics of discussion included street facades taking precedence during maintenance projects, ADA compliancy, solar panel installation as it applies to a historic property and using the context of neighboring homes as it applies to design criteria.

Following the meeting, van Dyke and the subcommittee will make final revisions to the ordinance before going back to the boards for written comment. Afterward, the planning board will be responsible for filing a report to make sure the new ordinance is consistent with the township’s master plan.

Once the report is filed, the planning board will then sponsor the ordinance as it goes before the borough commissioners, who plan to have another special meeting for public comment on the ordinance.

Following the meeting, LaProcido commended the subcommittee, which began working on the ordinance in April, working diligently to fulfill the time limits specified by the grant the township received to complete the ordinance.

LaProcido credited the subcommittee for adding value to residences in the historical district through its efforts and guidance.