PLAINFIELD, NJ — A number of residents hoping to resolve home improvement issues appeared before Plainfield's Historic Preservation Commission at its regularly scheduled monthly meeting Tuesday evening. One particular agenda item drawing public interest, a presentation from the Nishuane Group on planned amendments to the North Avenue Historic District, was moved to a later date.
First up before the board was homeowner Lynn Nolte, who suffered an almost complete loss of her home due to a fire. TAPinto Plainfield reported on the fire in the Netherwood Heights historic district back in November 2017.
According to the filed application, Nolte is seeking to reconfigure the original living room window, add new window installation, roof and siding installation, and construct a crawl space addition on the first floor. She emotionally stated that she had been out of the home for over two years, and this would be the third Christmas that her son would not be able to be at home. After confirmation that the windows would be the same as those that existed before the fire, HPC commissioners moved to quickly approve the application.
Replacement of an existing slate roof was the focus of another applicant whose home is located in the Putnam/Watchung Heights Historic District. Owner Anthony Maya and his roofing contractor laid out the argument for using a synthetic slate called “Ecostar’ which, they said, seems to be gaining some popularity in the industry; they provided a sample for commissioners to view.
HPC Chairman Bill Michelson acknowledged that while they hated to lose another slate roof, the commission had been allowing alternatives due to the high cost of the material. Resident Rich Sudol added his support for the choice of the synthetic product, saying he learned it was one of the best affordable products at a recent industry trade show.
Maya stated emphatically that he loved his house, but if forced to use an inferior product, he would rather walk away from it. All members of the commission voted in favor of the applicant.
The final agenda item was an informational meeting with homeowners LaQuita and Cleveland Jewett about their house in the Van Wyck Brooks Historic District. The homeowners had previously appeared before the commission, and were seeking additional clarification on several proposed improvements in light of notices of violations they recently received from the city’s Division of Inspections. Some improvements include an extensive porch restoration, including roof, columns, balustrades, soffit lights and Yankee gutters.
HPC Vice Chair Larry Quirk expressed concern over work that was already completed, and recommended that the best course of action would be for the owners to file a formal application with the Historic Preservation Commission to be placed on an upcoming meeting agenda.
According to the city’s website, “The Historic Preservation Commission serves to identify and protect Plainfield’s historic homes, religious and commercial buildings, historic sites and entire districts throughout the city. Historic preservation helps in strengthening the sense of connection to the community's past and creating a distinctive environment and sense of place for our community. The Commission intends to foster civic pride in the accomplishments of Plainfield’s past, promote the use of historic districts and landmarks for the educational, cultural, and recreational welfare of its residents, and help to insure the harmonious and efficient growth of the City.”
The Historic Preservation Commission meets monthly, typically on the fourth Tuesday of the month. Meetings start at 7:30 p.m., and are held in City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Ave. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 17.
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