Plans for two, two-family homes at 13-15 Wheeler Street were presented to Montclair’s Historic Preservation Commission Thursday. (ARCHITECTURAL DRAWING BY LASOTA ARCHITECTS)

By TALIA WIENER
wiener@montclairlocal.news

Two, two-family homes are planned to replace a Wheeler Street home — the first property the Montclair Historic Preservation Commission’s ever approved for demolition.  

The development at 13-15 Wheeler St. is also slated to encompass the lot next door for a combined lot size of 5,984 square feet. 

The Historic Preservation Commission was granted the authority to approve or deny demolitions of some historic properties starting in 2019. It approved the razing of the Wheeler Street property in August

Plans for the homes presented to the commission on Thursday, Oct. 28 reflect “a modern interpretation of Greek Revival style,” architect Adam Lasota told commission members. They’re designed to be mirror images of each other, with the main difference being what side of the porch the steps are on. he said.

The commission’s role is advisory only; final plans would have to be approved by the Montclair Planning Board. 

The property is owned by Malgorzato Dolgan, who also owns 27, 47 and 68 Mission St. and 10 Washington St., according to tax records.

The intention is to keep some of the historically significant elements of the original home, Lasota said. The new homes would include features of the demolished house — two windows on the second level, a fully covered front porch and a larger window on the first floor. 

“The plans will not only complement the neighborhood, but make a vast improvement from what’s currently there,” Dolgan’s lawyer, John Veteri, said. “But we’re not trying to fake it with something that’s a restoration.”

The existing foundation stonework from the previous home would be reused around the bottom portion of the front porches, Lasota said. The exterior walls would be made of Hardiplank siding with a wood texture and would be painted blue, another nod to the previous home. An existing tree in front of the property has died and two new trees would be planted along the street, he said.

“We’re trying to incorporate something old into something new,” Lasota said. 

Plans for the two homes also include a shared driveway with parking behind the homes for four cars and turnaround space.

The houses should look different from each other, but remain within the design submitted, commission member Steve Rooney said Thursday. Changes suggested by commission members included different paint colors for the two homes, different window placements and roof styles. 

“All the houses are different in this neighborhood,” Rooney said. “It increases how the neighborhood looks.”

Commission consultant Tom Connolly of Connolly & Hickey Historical Architects went further, recommending two houses with “distinctly different architectural styles.”

“When you walk this neighborhood, they stick out like a sore thumb,” Connolly said. “They are two houses that look exactly the same.”

Connolly suggested adjustments to moldings, the removal of faux keystones above windows and a change in roof shape. 

“The consensus is if there was a difference in the façade, it would be a little bit more interesting,” commission chair Kathleen Bennett said. “This looks like it’s turning out to be a great project and a great addition to the neighborhood.” 

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