Township of Mahwah, NJ
Historic Preservation Commission  
Frequently Asked Questions  
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   Historic Preservation Commission
      - What Township ordinance established the Historical Preservation Commission?
      - How do I know if my home or other structure is "historic" and qualifies to be placed on the Township ordinance as an "historic landmark"?
      - If I want to protect my historic house, what do I need to do?
      - How do I research the history of my house?
      - What documentation do I need to prove that my house is historic?
      - What resources are available?
      - If I list my property/structure on the Historic Element of the Municipal Code as an historic site, does that mean that I cannot change anything in/on it?
      - Why should I place my home on the Historic Element of the Township Code?
      - Is there any tax incentive or financial benefit to listing my house on the ordinance?
 


    Historic Preservation Commission
          What Township ordinance established the Historical Preservation Commission?

 
Ordinance #627 was adopted on March 23, 1978 and established the Historic Sites Committee to protect, enhance and preserve districts, sites, buildings and structures of historic, cultural or architectural value or interest within the Township of Mahwah.
 
Ordinance #1062 established the  Historic Preservation Commission to safeguard its historic, architectural, archeological and cultural heritage by protecting, preserving and conserving theses historic sites, districts, structures, objects, roads, and cemeteries.
 
Ordinance #1313 amended Ordinance #1062 to work with and advise the Planning Board and the Board of Adjustment on the effect of development applications on designated historic sites and in addition to review all permit applications involving the historic sites.
 
Ordinance #1393 added the Valentine House to the list of protected properties.
 
Ordinance #1564 added the Waterman House to the list of protected properties.
 
Ordinance #1642 added the Ellis House to the list of protected properties.

Ordinance #1747 added the Erie Caboose and the the Wannamaker Shed located on 142 N. Railroad Avenue to list of protected structures. 

 


          How do I know if my home or other structure is "historic" and qualifies to be placed on the Township ordinance as an "historic landmark"?
Ordinance #1313 Section 24-18.3 Historic Designation Criteria for qualifying as "historic". Generally, these include whether the landmark has historical, cultural, social or architectural significance.  Homes from the colonial era would likely qualify as an historic landmark because of  its significance in Mahwah's early history.  But a home might qualify as an historic landmark even if it is not especially "old".  It might qualify because it is associated with a person significant to the Township's history (e.g., Joyce Kilmer's home), or because it is of a unique architectural style (e.g., American Craftsman style).  The Historic Preservation Commission can assist you in determining whether your home or structure might be eligile for inclusion in the Township Ordinance as a protected historic site.


          If I want to protect my historic house, what do I need to do?
A. First contact the Mahwah Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) by calling 201-529-5757 ext 264 (HPC secretary, Denise Storms) to advise them of your intentions or you may attend an Historic Preservation Commission meerting.  HPC Public meetings are held on the 1st Monday of each month (except September, which is the 2nd Monday), at 7:30 p.m. in the Townsihp Municipal Building, third floor, room 319, 475 Corporate Drive, Mahwah, N.J. 07430.
 
B. Write a letter to the Mayor and Council, and copy the HPC, requesting that your home be added to the list of historic protected properties on the historic preservation element of the Township Code.
 
C.  In your letter, describe the reasons for requesting this inclusion: (see FAQ #'s 1 and 3).     

   Note: you may not have been able to establish all the criteria shown, but please
            provide enough identification factors, with verification citing sources of your 
            information.
 
D. The Township will request the request be added to a Township Council agenda.  It may be a month     before it is scheduled.

E. When the request is placed on the Township Council meeting agenda, you will be notified, and it will be discussed and open to the public for comments.  A motion will be introduced to amend Chapter 24 of the Township Code Entitled "Historic Sites" to designate the property as an Historic Site in the Township of Mahwah. Township Council will add it to its next public meeting, where it will be voted on and adopted. The Amendment to the Township Ordinance is then signed by the Mayor and published.  The effective date is 20 days after publication. At that point, the house or site will be protected as per the stipulations in Township of Mahwah Ordinance #1313.

 


          How do I research the history of my house?
The New Jersey Historic Preservation Office has a brief quide on "How to Research the History of a House." www.nj.gov/dep/hpo/4sustain/houseresearch.pdf 

The following are questions to keep in mind when researching the history of your property/structure:
  • What is the name of the structure?
  • What is the location and address of the property?
  • What is the date it was built?
  • Who were the architect, designer and supplier of material for the structure?
  • What alterations and additions (with dates, name of architect, builder, etc.) have been made to the house?
  • What is the name of the original owner and of all subsequent owners?
  • What additions to, or sale of, the property were made by the owners?
  • What historical events and/or persons are associated with the structure?
The following list of primary (archival & original) and secondary sources of documentation will assist in your property history search:
  1. Interview former owners & older neighbors
  2. Building permits, block and lot numbers
  3. Deeds (names of owners, dates of ownership)
  4. Estate Records/Wills
  5. Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS)
  6. Census Records (Federal and New Jersey)
  7. Tax Appraisal Records (Municipal)
  8. Maps and Aerial Photographs
  9. Newspapers and books
    • Plot Boods (volumes of large-scale maps showing plots and buildings on each block)
    • Local, municipal, and/or county histories
    • Real Estate listings
  10. Historic Resource Surveys and Registers of Historic Places
  11. Architectural/Construction Drawings


          What documentation do I need to prove that my house is historic?
On order to determine if a property/structure can be considered for local historic designation, the property/structure must meet the Historic Designation Criteria under the Township of Mahwah Municipal Code Section 24.18.3 Ordiance #1313. 


          What resources are available?
  • New Jersey Historic Presservation Office http://www.nj.gov/gep/hpo/
  • New Jersey State Archives http://www.state.nj.us/state/archives/ or email: njarchives@sos.state.nj.us
  • Rutgers University Library www.libraries.rutgers.edu/
  • Bergen County Justice Center
  • Bergen County Division of Cultural & Historic Affairs http://www.co.bergen.nj.us/index.aspx?nid=600
  • Bergen County Historical Society www.bergencountyhistory.org
  • Mahwah Museum Society www.mahwahmuseum.org
  • Township of Mahwah Building Department (Department of Inspections) http://www.mahwahtwp.org
  • Mahwah Library www.mahwahlibrary.org
    • From Pioneer Settlement to Suburban A History of Mahwah New Jersey, 1700-1976, Henry Bischoff and Mitchell Kahn
    • Ramapough Chronicles Images of American:Mahwah, Carole W. Greene


          If I list my property/structure on the Historic Element of the Municipal Code as an historic site, does that mean that I cannot change anything in/on it?
If a property/structure is added to the Historic Element of the Municipal Code as an historic site it does not necessarily mean that anything on the outside or inside of the property/structure cannot be changed. What it does mean is that the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) will over see changes under certain conditions. If the house is under 10,000 square feet, the Commission has no jurisdiction on interior changes.  However, the Commission is happy to advise the owner in regards to any work to be done, to keep the historic integrity of the structure.

Emergency and ordinary repairs (including painting) of doors, roofs, windows, siding, and other outside strucutures, which do not change the architectural integrity of the structure, and which use in kind materials, do not require Commission review.  Any work to change the outside of the structure which requires a permit will be subject to review by the HPC.  The Commission will review the permit and provide a written report as to the historical preservation provisions to the changes proposed in the permit application. The Commission can recommend approval of the permit, approval with condtions, or recommend that the permit be denied. The Commission recommends that homeowners come to a Commission meeting prior to any application for a permit to speak to the members about any changes they would like to make.


          Why should I place my home on the Historic Element of the Township Code?
It is an acknowledgement from the Township that your property/struture is valued by the Township.  It helps tell the story of our community, as it represents an architectural style, historic time period or event. There is a good feeling to restorying and preserving the property for future generations.  If you purchased an historic home, you understand the uniqueness of your home and the importance of carrying this piece of the past forward into our future.  Just 50 years ago, Mahwah was largely a rural farming community.  Today, it is a busy, growing suburb with only vestiges of its rural past existing in small pockets around the Township. Placement of your home on the Historic Element of the Township Code ensures its historic character will be preserved for future generations.  Years from now, it is likely that only those homes that were placed on the ordinance will remain much the same as they are today. 


          Is there any tax incentive or financial benefit to listing my house on the ordinance?
There are not currently many direct financial benefits for the owner of a private historic residence.  Although its inclusion on the Ordinance could make it eligible for grants.  There is currently little assistance available presently for private residences, future legislation may broaden eligibility for economic grants.  


 



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