WESTFIELD, NJ – Jonathan Kinney, state historic preservation specialist and certified local government coordinator of the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office, spoke during Monday’s Historic Preservation Commission speaker series to drive awareness of preservation regulations and benefits.
“Historic preservation, particularly preservation at the local level, provides tools that you, together as a community, can use to prevent the things that make your town unique and identifiable from being lost,” said Kinney, who added that local preservation programs empower residents to have a greater say in decisions that affect them all.
“Historic preservation is not the opposite of development and I think that’s important for people to understand,” he said. “It’s not intended to stop growth but it can help facilitate it and help shape it.”
During the presentation, Kinney addressed common misconceptions about register listing and how it can affect a property. According to Kinney, having a home on the national register does not prevent a homeowner from making alterations to the property, it does not increase taxes on the property or decrease property values, and it does not dictate what color a homeowner can paint his/her house.
“There are some very stubborn and very persistent myths that surround the New Jersey and National Registers,” Kinney said. “This goes back to the consistent need to educate people and to let them know what the realities of preservation work are.”
During the presentation, Kinney identified differences between national and local designations, pointing out that the New Jersey and National Register listing cannot protect a property from a private property owner, developer or builder including their right to make “insensitive alterations” and/or demolish the property.
“The fact is that local preservation programs are by far the strongest and most effective way to protect historic resources,” he said, adding that Municipal Land Use Law together with local government strengthens a community's authority over designated properties.