Montclair Historical Preservation Commission Deliberates on Landmark Nomination for Label Street

The Montclair Historical Preservation Commission recently convened for an extensive deliberation on an array of municipal matters, with the potential designation of a Label Street historic district being at the forefront of their discussions. The meeting, held on December 14, 2023, saw debate surrounding local landmark nomination reports, resolutions, and amendments, while also including public comments and administrative matters.

The most substantial discussion revolved around the local landmark nomination report for Label Street, with a focus on the revisions made to the report and the implications of those revisions. This report had been subject to ongoing discussions, having been continued and postponed from previous meetings. The report had undergone revisions, including clarifications on the development of the property, a specified period of significance, and additional historical information. The revised report was posted on the website, and the commission was set to further discuss the report after the summary from Mar Hickey of Connolly & Hickey Historical Architects.

Hickey’s presentation highlighted the historical significance of the Label Street area. She emphasized its broad connections with the history and development of Montclair, particularly in relation to its transition from a manufacturing industry to a commuter suburb. Hickey further underscored the architectural language of the buildings and their ties to the industrial and manufacturing history of the area. These connections were also recognized by the public, with a member of the public expressing support for maintaining the area as an industrial history site, emphasizing the importance of the Crump family’s role in the industrial development of New Jersey.

Kathleen Bennett, Chair of the Historical Preservation Commission, was questioned about her nomination report and the process leading up to it. Bennett defended her work on the report, explaining that her interest in the historic significance of the Label Street manufacturing district was based on her surprise at the area’s history and the national and international significance of the Crump Label Company. She emphasized she was not personally opposed to redevelopment, but rather saw the potential for adaptive reuse of the historic buildings within a redevelopment scheme.

However, the suggestion of a Label Street historic district was not without controversy. Scott Wizor from E2 Project Management presented a detailed critique of the nomination report. Wizor challenged the claim of the district’s coherence, arguing that the buildings lacked a unifying theme or historical continuity. His detailed analysis sparked debate and deliberation among the commission members, shaping the direction of the meeting’s proceedings.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, several residents expressed support for the potential creation of a historic district for Label Street. However, other members of the public and the commission expressed skepticism about the motivations behind the nomination and the potential impact on redevelopment. These differing perspectives on the timing, motivations, and potential implications of the nomination report, as well as procedural disagreements and interruptions, added to the complexity of the meeting.

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.

Sean Spiller
Historic Preservation Commission Officials:
Kathleen Bennett, Jason Hyndman, Stephen Rooney, John Reimnitz, Michael Graham, Gerald Sweeney, Janice Talley (Assistant Secretary), Paul Burr (Attorney), Connolly & Hickey Historical Architects (HPC Consultant)

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