By Jaimie Julia Winters
Montclair officials today, March 15, extended its halt on issuing demolition permits on one, two, three and four family homes.
Officials first issued the moratorium on Feb. 15 due to public outcry following the razing of two homes on Undercliff and Lloyd roads.
The moratorium, in effect for 30 days, will allow time for the township attorney to draft a demolition-review or no-knock down ordinance.
The mayor and council rejected a demolition-review ordinance on Montclair homes by township attorney Ira Karasick on March 5, directing him to pen a stronger a no-knock down law instead.
The homes at 14 Undercliff, built in 1865, and 172 Lloyd, built in 1907, were razed in early February, after demolition permits were issued Feb. 5, but prior to zoning board review of an application to build a 60,000-square-foot home on the lots. The demolitions were also not reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission.
At the March 5 council meeting, Karasick presented the council with a draft ordinance that would require demolition oversight from either the Historic Preservation Commission or planning or zoning boards. Demolitions of homes listed in the Historic Preservation element, of which there are 4,800, and all structures in historic and potential historic districts — such as the Estate Section — would require a certificate of appropriateness triggering a review. The two houses razed in February were listed on the Historic Preservation Element and therefore would have prompted a review if an ordinance had been in place, said Karasick.
But council members agreed that the law should contain stronger language and directed the township manager to extend the moratorium while Karasick drafted another ordinance.
“Given that it is in the township’s best interest to continue to temporarily halt granting new demolition permits for all structurally sound 1-, 2-, 3- and 4- family buildings or structures throughout the township until the governing body can consider any amendments to the township code, pursuant to the authority vested in me by law, I hereby order and direct that the moratorium on the issuance of all new demolition permits for 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-family buildings or structures be extended for 30 days,” Timothy Stafford, acting township manager, wrote in a memo issued today, March 15.
The moratorium does not apply to any application to demolish structures deemed unfit for occupancy by the construction official or buildings that is in immediate danger of collapse.
According to township officials, there are currently no dwellings awaiting demolition.