FOFP propose The Pitney Farm Park and Homestead

Since the fire nearly one year ago, the Friends of Pitney Farm (FOPF) have sought a new and creative approach that allows community use of Pitney Farm, while respecting neighbors’ concerns and meeting Mendham Township’s fiscal needs.

We have listened closely to the opinions expressed on the use of Pitney Farm and considered those for and against past proposals. As a result, we have changed our original plan first presented to the Township in December 2015.

FOPF now propose, The Pitney Farm Park and Homestead. We propose to create and maintain a public park in the 7 acres of designated open space. We will also rehabilitate and restore the oldest surviving section of the farmhouse using approximately one acre at the center of the Pitney property. The remaining portion of the municipally owned area would then be available for residential use at the discretion of the Mendham Township Committee (MTC). Our new approach will:

* preserve a piece of Mendham history,

* provide limited community space, and

* protect and promote the public investment in the open space.

FOPF believes that our new plan is a significant contribution to the “win-win” solution that both MTC and township residents seek.

Mendham Township Committee Seeks win-win for Pitney Farm in 2017

FOPF sees room for hope based on the comments made by Mendham Township Mayor  Diana Orban-Brown.  In her address at the January 3, 2017 Reorganization meeting of the Mendham Township Committee, newly sworn-in mayor Diana Orban-Brown stated with regard to Pitney Farm:

“I think it is fair to say that everyone would have liked to have this resolved years ago.  But it is important that when feelings are strong and run-in so many different directions about a subject, all avenues must be explored.  The goal is to achieve the best possible solution – the win-win.  We shortly will have in our hands an appraisal and an engineering study consistent with current zoning, and this Township Committee will be making decisions that will put this situation to bed once and for all.”

Fire Guts Historic Pitney Farm

An overnight fire has badly damaged historic Pitney Farm.  The colonial-era mansion in Mendham Township was gutted in an early morning blaze Wednesday, February 24.
Firefighters responded to the unoccupied mansion on Cold Hill Road, parts of which date back to the 1720s, at about 2:37 a.m. to find the home engulfed in flames.  The cause of the blaze is under investigation by the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office.
“We’re all shocked and devastated,” said Omie Ryan, President of the Friends of Pitney Farm, on Wednesday morning.  “Until we get an understanding of exactly what survives, it is hard to speculate how we go forward. The emphasis of the Friends was to save the mansion and the character of the property.”

 

Lease to be Negotiated with Mendham Twp

The Friends of Pitney Farm presented our 86-page Business Plan  to the Mendham Township Committee on 12/14/2015.  As a result of this presentation, the Mendham Twp Committee voted on 12/22/2015 to form a sub-committee to negotiate a lease of the Pitney Farm property to the Friends of Pitney Farm.  Members of the sub-committee are Mendham Twp Committee members Diana Orban Brown and Chris Baumann, and Mendham Twp counsel John Mills, Esq.

Here is the slide presentation made on 12/14/2015 at the Mendham Twp Committee meeting:

 

December 14, 2015 was an inspiring night for the supporters of Pitney Farm’s preservation.  In a town hall packed with residents in favor of saving this remnant of our community’s last 3 centuries of history, the Mendham Twp Committee voted down proposed Ordinance 6-2015 which would have re-zoned the 5 remaining acres of Pitney Farm into as many as 6 small residential lots.  In an earlier meeting, the Mendham Twp Planning Board had unanimously voted against the proposed ordinance because it was inconsistent with the township’s Master Plan.

Following the failure of this re-zoning effort, the Mendham Township Committee received the presentation of the Business Plan developed by the Friends of Pitney Farm  for preserving and repurposing all 12 acres of Pitney Farm.  The presentation was made by professionals in the fields of architecture, engineering, public works project management, municipal planning, and finance.  All of the presenters are residents of Mendham Twp.  The presenters were:  Omie Ryan, President of the Friends of Pitney Farm, David Wisotsky from Bohler Engineering, Marc Parette from Parette Somjen Architects, Rick Blood who is Director of Public Works in Roxbury, and Teresa Finlay, Vice President of the Friends of Pitney Farm.

 

 

Pitney Farm Needs You on 12/14/15

 

The Friends of Pitney Farm have developed a detailed, sustainable Business Plan for managing and restoring all 12 acres of Pitney Farm with its grounds, gardens, and historic buildings to provide extraordinary cultural and educational benefits to the community. The Friends’ 86-page Business Plan will be presented at the December 14 Mendham Township Committee meeting.

All Mendham citizens are encouraged to attend the December 14th meeting at 7:30 PM at the Town Hall in Brookside to support the preservation of this irreplaceable remnant of our pre-Revolutionary history.  The complete business plan is available for preview on the Pitney Farm web site at the Business Plan Page.  It is also available on the Mendham Township web site.

The Friends’ plan is financially sustainable and will relieve the Township of all financial obligations to maintain the grounds and buildings, and provide income to Mendham Township from annual lease payments made by the Friends.  This plan is the better alternative to rezoning and selling the Pitney Farm property because it will allow the entire community to benefit from its investment in the property through the many programs Pitney Farm can provide, the many group activities it can host, and the enhancement to Mendham Township’s standing that this facility can bring.

Mendham Township Committeeman Frank Cioppettini proposed a 99-year lease of the 5 acres of Pitney Farm to the Friends of Pitney Farm at the 7/28/2015 Mendham Township Committee meeting.  The Friends of Pitney Farm have a detailed, sound business plan for managing and restoring Pitney Farm and are ready to negotiate a lease with Mendham Township that will meet known community needs and save Pitney Farm at no cost to taxpayers.

Summary Plan Presented to Mendham Twp

The following summary business plan presentation was made to the Mendham Township Committee on September 8, 2015 by the Friends of Pitney Farm.  Our comprehensive business plan and 5-year budget, detailing a financially sustainable operation, has been developed and will be available on this web site. Through our plan, the asset value of Pitney Farm — still owned by Mendham Township — will continually increase as the Friends restore and renovate the property year after year.  The community will have the use and enjoyment of Pitney Farm without adding further to the taxpayer’s burden.

If allowed to lease the Pitney Farm property from Mendham Township, the Friends of Pitney Farm, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, will preserve and adapt Pitney Farm to meet the arts and educational needs of the community.  The Pitney farmstead exemplifies 300 years of New Jersey history.  It has changed with each generation, progressing from subsistence agriculture, through light industry, to specialized agriculture and country home.  Our plan — to transform Pitney Farm from an historic farmstead and private residence into a “Gathering Place for our Community” — represents the next step in its evolution.  Our vision preserves this community’s historic heritage while repurposing this priceless remnant of our past to meet the needs of this and future generations. Continue reading

Support Pitney Farm at 9/8 Mendham Twp Meeting

In the last few months, progress has been made in our effort to save Pitney Farm from public auction.  With your help, we may be poised for success in our effort to SAVE PITNEY FARM from demolition.

We need to pack the room one more time and show the Mendham Twp Committee that the community wants Pitney Farm to be used for the public benefit, rather than put into the hands of developers who will build yet more houses.  We urge you to come at 7:00 PM (a bit earlier than usual) on Tuesday, September 8th, to the Mendham Town Hall, 2 West Main Street, Brookside, NJ. Continue reading

Development of Pitney Farm Stalled by Planning Board

The Mendham Township Planning Board ruled unanimously on July 15, 2015 that the ordinance proposed by the Township Committee to rezone the Pitney Farm property is inconsistent with the township’s Master Plan.  The Township Committee’s  proposed Ordinance 6-2015 calls for the Pitney property at One Cold Hill Road to be rezoned from a two-acre R-2 Zone to a 20,000-square foot R Zone, which would make it more attractive to developers.  Trustees from the nonprofit Friends of Pitney Farm presented researched statements detailing the multiple grounds upon which the proposed ordinance was inconsistent with the Master Plan, including the stipulations relating to Community Character, Historic Preservation, Meeting Community Facility Needs, Land Use, Recreation and Conservation.  Members of the packed room stepped up to the mic to support the saving of Pitney Farm and its repurposing to meet community needs.

The Master Plan identifies Pitney Farm specifically as one of the historic resources that should be saved and states, regarding both State and Township Land Use policy:

The preservation and creation of Communities of Place is the central goal of the New Jersey State Development and Redevelopment Plan. Urban sprawl, especially since World War II, has greatly diminished the number of such communities in New Jersey. Mendham Township, together with the Borough, still remains such a community, a self-evident fact to residents and visitors. The Township retains its traditional historic rural character. Factors that contributed to this include the foresight of earlier Township officials establishing effective zoning controls which have been regularly updated since. The preservation of the traditional rural/historic character is the single most strongly held planning goal of Township residents. It should also be a central goal of Mendham Township’s development policies.” (pp 37-38)
Continue reading