Tuckerton Introduces Historic Commission Ordinance

Aug 08, 2018

There’s no question that Tuckerton has quite a lot of history behind it. In 1699, it was settled by two brothers, Edward and Mordecai Andrews, along Tuckerton Creek. A year earlier, surveyor and Indian interpreter Henry Jacob Falkinburg had established a homestead on Osborn Island. Populations expanded enough that by 1704, Edward Andrews erected the first Quaker meeting house along the lake. In Colonial times, Tuckerton was a well-known and populous port with its own customs house. During the Revolutionary War, it was a center for boat building – and privateers, leading the British to destroy the salt works at Bass River and threaten the town. But they were thwarted in their ultimate aim by Polish Count Casimir Pulaski, who was fighting on the side of independence with George Washington.

From 1871 to 1940, the Tuckerton Railroad brought tourists and linked commerce with Whiting and from there to Philadelphia and New York. Clams, oysters, fish, ducks, salt hay and timber were products sold from the shores of Tuckerton and Little Egg Harbor.

After the interstate Route 9 was paved in the 1920s using the Old Shore Road, it served as a stop for those traveling to the new, glittering resort of Atlantic City. But the town became a sleepy byway when the Garden State Parkway was completed in the 1950s.

Still, there is much history in the homes and buildings in the center of town, and this is what the Tuckerton Historic Commission is looking to preserve. Tuckerton Councilman Keith Vreeland introduced an ordinance during the Aug. 6 Tuckerton municipal meeting that repeals the town’s Landmarks Commission and replaces it with a Historic Preservation Advisory Commission. The reason, explained Vreeland, is the Landmarks Commission had no real authority, and the Historic Preservation Advisory Commission will be under the authority of the land use board.

But “people are afraid,” said Vreeland. “Are they going to tell me what color to paint my house? No.”

The ordinance is required by the state Department of Environmental Protection Parks and Forestry’s Historic Preservation Office, a step toward becoming a certified local government, which would allow the borough to apply annually for grants from the state’s Historic Preservation Fund, Vreeland explained.

“We can then hire a historic preservation specialist who will be able to better define our historic district and places with structures worth preserving,” he said.

The ordinance makes provisions for the borough to grant special tax incentives to people needing financial help to preserve a historic building or landmark, and new construction within the district would adhere to the nature and esthetics of the district.

Vreeland also offered his services as an architect to the commission until it can get a grant to hire a professional preservationist.

The public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for the Aug. 20 borough council meeting. —P.J.

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