Cranbury HPC Debates Main Street Revitalization

The most recent meeting of the Cranbury Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) was notable for its in-depth discussions on the revitalization of Main Street, addressing several significant proposals including the replacement of a fire-damaged building, enhancement of West Park Place, and the potential construction of a new structure. The conversation also touched on the transformative impact of these changes on the town, including the integration of shared outdoor spaces and the intention to maintain the number of parking spots while improving accessibility.

The commission reviewed the application for the replacement of siding on North Main Street, where the applicant proposed using either Hardy Plank or vinyl siding. The commission emphasized the importance of assessing the existing wood’s condition before proceeding. Similarly, the commission requested additional information on the proposed project at the old Cranbury Pizza property at 61-63 North Main Street after examining historical images and discussing the site’s complex history.

The presentation on the Main Street streetscape improvements was comprehensive, with detailed descriptions and visual aids. It included plans for the new structure, modifications to a Victorian corner building, and creation of communal outdoor spaces. The relocation and buffering of the parking area from Main Street views were also topics. The commission probed into the specifics of the design, inquiring about the types of businesses to occupy the ground floor retail spaces and the use of other buildings for residential or office purposes.

The commission discussed the mixed-use status of the buildings on the site, noting that the middle building had previously been a garden store. They acknowledged the need to clarify the numbering of the buildings and discussed the legal aspects of site consolidation. Questions arose about the covered entrance on the Victorian building on North Main and the intention to remove solid walls to open up views. The commission also inquired about the building materials for the main building and rooftop equipment, emphasizing underground utilities. There was a debate on the historical significance of the buildings, with some members expressing that the buildings were not contributing to the district and would never be within the period of significance.

The commission addressed the need to make a video recording of a survey presentation by Richard Grubb & Associates available to the public, with suggestions to use YouTube for broader access. The topic of Township signage was also discussed, with plans to preserve and update existing signs. During the meeting, the members engaged in discussions showing a strong willingness to take on tasks to advance preservation efforts in the town, despite the challenges of obtaining certifications and grants.

The allocation of funds for new Gateway signs and the inclusion of the 1713 East Jersey Cottage in the list of historic sites was debated. The commission deliberated public outreach strategies, including representation at a state conference and encouraging youth involvement by potentially including a junior HPC member. They also discussed the creation of a trifold flyer for realtor offices and hardware stores.

Additionally, the commission considered outreach efforts for Cranberry Day, developing a software tool for property reports, and clarified objectives for upcoming historic tours organized by Preservation New Jersey. Updates were provided on the Revolution New Jersey committee and the distribution of new homeowner letters. The meeting also acknowledged the temporary absence of the Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) for 2024 and the necessity of presenting the annual report to the Township Committee.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Eman El-Badawi
Historic Preservation Commission Officials:
Susan Ryan, Brendan Houle, Bobbie Marlowe, Jennifer Suttmeier, Gerard “Guy” Geier, David Szabo, Sarah Sawant, Lisa Knierim (Committee Liaison), Robin Tillou (Administrative Officer/Secretary)

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