Millburn Town Historical Preservation Commission Approves Renovation Applications Amid Discussions on Historical Integrity

During the recent meeting of the Millburn Town Historical Preservation Commission, two renovation applications were approved. The commission reviewed various applications that involved discussions on the balance between necessary modern improvements and the preservation of historical character. In particular, the application for a property on Forest Drive and a conceptual review application for a 1922 Sears Martha Washington were among the most noteworthy.

The first point of discussion was the application number 566 for a property on Forest Drive in the Short Hills Park District. Brendan and Juliana Culligan sought approval for a series of exterior improvements aimed at both preserving the property’s historical integrity and adding modern functionality. The renovations included the demolition of an oversized car garage and the construction of a new three-car garage with an attached storage shed and an open pergola. Architect John James provided a detailed presentation on the proposed renovations, assuring that the original structure’s key elements would remain untouched and that new additions would be oriented away from the main street to maintain the neighborhood’s character.

The Culligans emphasized their intention to integrate the new structures seamlessly with the house’s existing architecture, incorporating features like Carriage style garage doors and Norwood wood windows and doors. The addition of a loft space above the garage, designed for use as a home office, and an open-air arbor were also part of the proposal. The applicants acknowledged the need to seek further approvals from the zoning board.

Commissioners expressed general support for the Culligans’ application, noting that the proposed changes were in alignment with historic design guidelines and would not affect the main house’s original facade. The commission’s approval of the application came with a request for construction documents for permitting following the zoning board’s review.

Another application that sparked considerable discussion concerned a 1922 Sears Martha Washington property. The homeowner presented plans for an addition that would accommodate their growing family’s need for more space and the replacement of non-wood windows with materials consistent with the original design. While the commission recognized the family’s needs, they also emphasized the importance of the property’s historical significance and the impact of the improvements on its character.

The homeowner’s narrative highlighted the practical need for the addition, given the challenges of sharing limited space and one bathroom among five family members. The commission’s dialogue with the homeowner focused on ensuring that the addition would not impact the property’s historical facade and that the historical integrity would be preserved. The commission moved the application to the subcommittee for further review.

The meeting also addressed another property in the Short Hills Park District, where the owner sought approval for repairs and changes deemed critical, including the replacement of non-functional windows, a broken front door, and the restoration of brickwork. The owner’s keen interest in preserving the original architectural features was evident, as they discussed the extensive work necessary for both the exterior and interior of the house.

Discussions became particularly involved when considering the replacement of a broken glass block window and the proposed color schemes for the house and garage doors. The owner and the commission debated the appropriateness of certain design choices, with the commission insisting on adherence to historic preservation standards. The owner, expressing frustration with delays, emphasized their efforts to preserve the structure’s historic integrity while making necessary repairs.

Furthermore, the commission addressed the preservation of historic plans, recommending that the homeowner work with the historical society to ensure proper documentation, whether through physical preservation or digital means. The commission appreciated the homeowner’s dedication to the project but remained concerned about maintaining the property’s historic features.

In addition to the application reviews, the meeting included announcements about the potential introduction of a Zoom option for public comments and the appointment of Brad Jenkins as a full board member. The meeting minutes from the previous session were approved, along with consent agenda items for minor work review applications for a property on Northern Drive and Nollwood Road.

The commission also touched on the broader topic of homeowner and real estate agent awareness of the requirements and procedures for alterations to historic properties. The commission discussed strategies for improving educational outreach and resources to enhance understanding of the historic preservation process within the community.

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.

Annette Romano
Historic Preservation Commission Officials:
Alison Canfield, Elizabeth Wanga, Robert Frankel, Jessica Glatt, Karen Gaylord, Zachery Davis, Brad Jenkins, Justin Selan, Janine Bauer (Attorney), Frank Saccomandi (Township Committee Liaison), Crystal Woods (Secretary)

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