The Montclair Historic Preservation Commission.

BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
winters@montclairlocal.news

At the most recent Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) meeting on March 28, member Caroline Kane Levy referred to a Lackawanna suit, asking if the HPC could join it.

The attorney never answered.

“I have a sense there is a pending lawsuit that members of the public will be raising about the decision on Lackawanna,” Kane Levy said at the commission’s March 28 meeting.

After Lackawanna received planning board approval against HPC’s recommendations, the HPC is now seeking more input into the process.

At the HPC meeting, member David Greenbaum wanted to memorialize what he called his objections to a “defective process by the planning board” related to the Lackawanna application. He pointed to the developer’s last-minute introduction of supermarket tenant Lidl, which would only be 29,000 square feet.

“All along we were presented with a 49,000-square-foot tenant. At the very last meeting we are presented with a 29,000-square-foot tenant. All the parking, loading, logistics [testimony] was based on 49,000 square feet. All that testimony is moot. It’s a completely different footprint, it’s half the footprint,” he said. “And I take exceptional issue with the way the HPC has been marginalized during this entire process.”

Township prosecutor and acting HPC attorney Joseph Angelo questioned the need for the HPC resolution. “You took a position that the planning board did not agree with,” he said, noting that over the process of the Lackawanna hearings the HPC submitted three memos on the board’s position of saving the train platforms.

Board member Jason Hyndman suggested that such a resolution was premature. “The board hasn’t memorialized [its] resolution,” he said, suggesting that it wait until the HPC can address the resolution itself.

But the attorney suggested that a motion be made to vote on Greenbuam’s resolution that night. Greenbaum and Kane Levy voted for it, while Kathleen Bennett and Hydman voted against. The resolution needed a majority vote to pass.

Another resolution was approved placing on the record Greenbaum’s and Kane Levy’s comments made at the previous HPC meeting in relation to Lackawanna hearing procedures.

Greenbaum also questioned HPC and planning member Stephen Rooney’s vote to approve the Lackawanna plan.

“Shouldn’t the vote be consistent with the commission’s position,” he asked.

Rooney stated at the planning board meeting before the vote that the plan allowed for most of the historic elements to be saved. “The problem was we had to put a supermarket there,” he said at another meeting.

The attorney advised that a sitting member of both the HPC and the planning board can vote as he or she sees fit.

Rooney was not at the meeting.

Bennett said the commission is working on a procedure to have the HPC’s memos read into the record at planning board meetings as they are currently just submitted to the members.

Kane Levy did not return a request for more information on the suit.