This letter is in support of the Town Historic Preservation Ordinance. We have lived in Westfield for more than 35 years, in a home built in 1902. We selected Westfield as the town in which to raise our two boys because we appreciate the historical character of the homes, the lovely downtown and the quality of the schools. Over the years, we have witnessed several historic homes torn down and replaced with new construction that in no way approximates the quality of what stood in its place.
I read, with concern, a letter that was written by the Republican Chair of Westfield that seemed designed to create fear amongst the residents of this town for no apparent reason. To alleviate any concern, both for myself and my neighbors, I would like to review the facts, plain and simple.
- The current ordinance is being updated to comply with the state’s municipal land use law (NJ MLUL). If we do not update this ordinance, we are not only out of compliance with state law which undermines Westfield’s efforts towards preservation, but also leaves the town open to legal challenge. Moreover, once we are in compliance, we will have access to grants and funding in order to preserve designated historic structures for future generations.
- Questions were raised regarding paint color. In fact, paint color was removed from the existing ordinance so that this will no longer be an issue.
- The definition of “historic” was brought into question. In fact, the standards are the same as the current ordinance, and they are based upon the National Register Preservation Standards.
- The letter states that a “Certificate of Appropriateness” must be obtained from a “multitude of municipal bodies.” This is clearly not true. It simply must go through the regular zoning regulations which remain unchanged.
- The current ordinance references 75% of properties need to provide consent for an historic district. The revised ordinance states that if 20% of residents object to a zoning change, then there must be a super-majority vote of the Town Council in order to make the change. This is, in fact, true in any type of zoning district, historic or not.
As a member of the Historic Preservation Commission and a long-time resident of this town, I feel strongly about supporting this ordinance. Moreover, as an attorney, I feel it is important to set the record straight.
Jacqueline E. Brevard, Esq.