Tuckerton Passes Historic Preservation Ordinance

Aug 22, 2018
Photo by: Pat Johnson The existing Tuckerton Historic district is shaded in light orange on the zoning map included in the master plan.

In order to be able to apply for preservation grants and to keep the fabric of Tuckerton borough’s streetscape and village intact, the borough council passed an ordinance Monday night creating a Historic Preservation Advisory Commission.

During the Aug. 20 municipal meeting, Councilman Keith Vreeland explained the ordinance allows the borough to become a CLG (certified local government) under federal and state preservation guidelines. Only between 40 and 50 municipalities in New Jersey are CLGs.

For many years, Tuckerton has had a historic district delineated on its master plan zoning map, and the Tuckerton Landmarks Commission has had the ability to suggest the general look of the district and commercial signage. This ordinance repeals the Landmarks Commission and replaces it with the Historic Preservation Advisory Commission, which has more authority under the town’s land use board.

The HPAC consists of a five-member board plus two alternates. Vreeland said the same people who served on Landmarks are now on the HPAC.

According to the ordinance, “The Borough of Tuckerton recognizes that it has areas, places and structures of historic, archaeological and architectural significance. It is in the interest of the general welfare to preserve these areas, places and structures to insure that new development is compatible and relevant with these areas, places and structures.”

One of the first tasks of the HPAC is to conduct a building-by-building inventory of the historic district and town and indicate the historic structures, areas of interest and established visual features. This process may take up to two years and require a certified preservationist, but in the meantime the borough’s zoning map of the historical district remains in place – and no structures can receive permission to be demolished within a year of enactment of the ordinance.

“We can hold up demolition for up to a year; this will help to preserve what’s here,” said Vreeland.

Besides the commission itself, anyone can nominate a building or historic landmark for inclusion in the historic district. There is a process in the ordinance whereby the owner of a historic building or landmark would be notified and a public hearing held.

Vreeland said the Landmarks Commission had looked at similar historic preservation ordinances, including Beach Haven’s, but unlike Beach Haven, where most of the buildings were built in the Victorian period, Tuckerton’s history stretches back to the early 1700s and has multiple time periods represented.

Vreeland has offered his services as an architect pro bono to the board until the town does receive CLG status. Then the town will be able to apply for preservation grants and also help individuals with preservation of their buildings through grants or tax incentives.

The borough council adopted the ordinance unanimously.

The council also approved an ordinance that limits the time period for parking recreational vehicles, motor homes and trailers on public streets to 72 hours. Parking of these vehicles on private property must be within the zoning area setbacks; for example, in Tuckerton Beach the side setbacks are 15 feet in total.

Boats are not considered recreational vehicles; there is a separate section for the regulation of the storage of boats, said Vreeland.

Mayor Sue Marshall said she would like the public to be respectful during municipal meetings as the last meeting had gotten out of hand during discussions about Heron Road. Heron Road is being torn up for water and sewer line replacements, and water service has been interrupted three times by water main breaks and also low water pressure. A reply to comments on the borough’s Facebook page stated, “The contractors did not break anything, the old ductile iron pipe is weak and could break at any moment … that is why we are replacing it.”

Marshall said some people had expressed concerns that a fire engine would not be able to negotiate Heron Road if it was needed, and Fire Chief Lee Eggert Jr. had obliged the mayor by taking a fire truck down the road to the end and back again without any problem.

“We have been monitoring Heron Road,” she said.

Tax bills have been arriving in the mail. Marshall explained the increase of $289 for the average home worth $215,800 is mostly due to an increase in the regional school tax to Pinelands Regional. Pinelands Regional is 67.6 percent of the increase, Tuckerton 17.3 percent; Tuckerton Elementary School District is 16.5 percent. The county tax actually went down 1.8 percent.

Also on the agenda, the borough will put a $34,000 Community Block Development Grant toward rebuilding sidewalks with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act ) improvements along Marine and Clay streets, a walking route that elementary-school children take to visit the Tuckerton Seaport on field trips.

Councilman Mike Santo read the addresses of six properties that have had property maintenance liens varying from $300 up to $1,300, depending on the work that needed to be done on the properties. “Just so the public realizes, we have guidelines for how much to charge per piece of equipment and man hours. We are not making these figures up out of our heads.”

During the public comment portion of the meeting, John Zimnic, a new member of the Waterways Committee, asked liaison Councilman John Schwartz if he could have an answer to three motions the committee made at its last meeting.

Schwartz said the committee secretary has to send a letter in writing to the mayor and council with the request and hasn’t done that yet; however, he could answer informally. Yes, a member of the waterways could sit in on the next meeting with the state Department of Environmental Protection about the shoreline restoration and lagoon dredging and yes, someone from the council would be at the next Waterways Commission meeting. But the final request, for the commission to hire an independent engineer, would have to be denied since the commission has a small budget, only large enough to cover its secretary fees. Administrator Jenny Gleghorn said even if they had a large enough budget, they could not spend public funds without first requesting authorization from her and a certificate of available funds being issued.

Owen and Little are the engineers for the borough, and the Waterways Commission would have access to them, but not without first checking with her and Chief Financial Officer Garrett Loesch to see if there are funds available.

A resident of Tuckerton Beach, Betsy Clifford, said she had tried to give the NJDEP a letter regarding the shoreline restoration project planned for South Green Street but had missed the deadline for public comment by a day. She asked the council to reject the project to add beach sand to the cove across the street from her house because, in her words, it would become an “attractive nuisance.” She also said the lights on the planned breakwater to keep boats form running into it would degrade her view at night.

“People are already using this private property for dog training, and I take on the responsibility for keeping it clean. … People in the Tuckerton Beach Association are looking to have a beach in Tuckerton Beach and I don’t want a public beach across the street from my house, plus there are no plans for a lifeguard. My husband and I have been trying to buy that property for our own protection. It’s unbuildable, and it should be preserved for our enjoyment.”

She also said South Green Street is a county road and has never eroded.

Schwartz said the area is not a public beach and the current owner of the property can put up no-trespassing signs if he is concerned with the public using it.

— Pat Johnson

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

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