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

Pitney Farm One of 10 Most Endangered NJ Historic Sites

Historic photo of Pitney Farm Main House

Main House 1924

The annual list of New Jersey’s 10 Most Endangered Historic Sites was announced on May 14, 2015.  Pitney Farm won the sad distinction of heading this year’s listing.  At the  event, Omie Ryan, president of the Friends of Pitney Farm, stated “The layers of history that the house represents are extraordinary, and it is almost literally at the center of our town. We would like it to remain there in perpetuity.”

Preservation NJ highlighted the Federal-style farmhouse, three barns, two cottages, ice house, and award-winning gardens. The 1760 farm remained in the Pitney family for 10 generations until the township bought it in 2009. Among the many notable Pitneys associated with the property are a Revolutionary War veteran and prominent lawyers and jurists, including Mahlon Pitney III, nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1912. Continue reading

Win-Win Solution Ignored by Mendham Twp Committee

On April 13, 2015, at the request of the Mendham Township Committee, the Friends of Pitney Farm presented their “Win-Win” preliminary proposal to save the most historic portion of the 5.1 acre property.  The remaining acreage could be sold by the Township. This proposal honours the overwhelming support from the public to save Pitney Farm in perpetuity, the many recommendations of historic preservationists, the Township’s own Master Plan and the urging of Mendham Township’s own Historic Preservation Committee to save Pitney Farm. At the same time, the Friend’s proposal that the Township sell off a portion of Pitney Farm would help the Township’s finances and reduce current commitments to the property.

Sadly, after the majority of the standing-room-only supporters of Pitney Farm left the meeting, the Mendham Township Committee disregarded public sentiment and expert recommendations.   Instead, they directed Township Attorney, John Mills, to pursue public auction of the entire 5.1 acres.

Here is the preliminary proposal made by the Friends of Pitney Farm:

If you support the saving of all or a portion of the 1722 Pitney Farm, rather than its sale to a developer who will put all the historic  structures at risk, pursue intensive development of the site, and build homes on the property, please send a Letter to the Editor, and also e-mail each one of the 5 Mendham Township Committee members right now. All the contact information you need to help save Pitney Farm can be found in our “Get Involved” section of this web site.

Township Historic Preservation Committee urges saving of Pitney Farm

All of the historic structures on Pitney Farm, dating back to pre-Revolutionary days, are in danger of being lost in developers’ pursuit of residential redevelopment, increasing Mendham’s housing density at the expense of our heritage.  The Mendham Township Committee is disregarding the recommendations of its own Historic Preservation Committee.

Please make your voice heard.  Write a Letter to the Editor, e-mail each one of the Mendham Township Committee members.  Go to the “Get Involved” section of this web site and tell the Mendham Township Committee that they cannot ignore the overwhelming public sentiment to preserve historic Pitney Farm.  The Mendham Township Committee may be focused on the money, but they were elected to carry out the will of the people — and that is to save and re-purpose Pitney Farm for the benefit of the community.

On February 24, 2015, Ray Nadaskay, Chair of Mendham Township Historic Preservation Committee, presented his committee’s plea to the Mendham Township Committee.  He urged them to be good stewards of the Pitney Farm property currently owned by the township, and to “retain, preserve, and re-purpose Pitney Farm for the benefit of present and future citizens of the Township of Mendham.” Continue reading

Pitney Recognized by NJ Preservation Dept

PitneyFarmIMG_0236

The NJ Historic Preservation Office has awarded Pitney Farm structures and property a certification of eligibility to be listed on the New Jersey and National Register of Historic Places.  Recognized as the Pitney Farm Historic District, the farm’s structures singled out by the NJHPO include:

  • the pre-Revolutionary Main House
  • the 1860 Farmer’s Cottage
  • the 1930s Chauffeur’s Cottage
  • the 1910 Cottage
  • the Main Barn
  • Garage
  • Ice House
  • rare Corn Crib
  • the display gardens
  • the working gardens
  • the 250 year old maple Alleé

These buildings and gardens were recognized by the NJ Historic Preservation Office to be eligible for listing on the New Jersey and National Registers under three of their four criteria.  They deemed Pitney Farm to be worthy of listing as an irreplaceable New Jersey historic resource. Currently, Pitney Farm has no historic protection.  Continue reading

Township Engineer proposes intensive development at expense of historic Pitney Farm

At the request of the Mendham Township Committee, the Township Engineer John Hansen presented two proposals on March 24, 2015 for the use of the historic 5.1 acres of Pitney Farm.  Both plans envision the sale of the property to a developer and the loss of every historic structure.

Proposal 1, shown below, would entail the creation of 7 lots, the loss of every existing historic structure and the construction of 7 residential homes.

Proposal 2 would entail the loss of every existing historic structure and the construction of 5 age-restricted residences on a single lot.

Map of Township Engineer's proposal

Mendham Township Engineer’s Proposal to demolish all historic structures and build 7 homes.

If the thought of losing all of the recognized historic treasures on Pitney Farm upsets you, please help save Pitney Farm. Send a Letter to the Editor, e-mail each one of the Mendham Township Committee members, or go to the “Get Involved” section of this web site.

The Township Committee is ignoring the overwhelming public support to save historic Pitney Farm.  Tell them you want the 300-year old Pitney Farm to be preserved in perpetuity — for our children, our families, and our seniors — providing needed programming and spaces to benefit the community.  Tell the Mendham Township Committee that selling to developers will lead to more intensive development of the site than the current zoning allows and therefore will increase housing density in Mendham.  That’s not why residents chose to move to Mendham.

The Allée in Autumn

The Alley at Pitney Farm Mendham NJ

The Allée at Pitney Farm in Mendham NJ

One day last fall, I hiked into Pitney Farm, leaving the concrete sidewalk with its stream of cars whizzing past.  A step beyond the white gates at One Cold Hill Road — and I was in a different space, a different world — of vine-decked trellises and formal flower beds still bright with autumn’s last blossoms.  A quick hike up the driveway, a few steps past the sparkling white clapboard front of the old homestead, and there it was:  the Allée.

That day the yellow leaves, turned golden as the sun shone through them,  dropped and drifted this way and that, through the clean, crisp air.  A shower of bright sunshine falling past my head and carpeting the lawn.  Planted in 1760, before there even was a United States of America, who had passed under these boughs?  Gentlemen in frock coats and breeches, riding off to meet with Washington’s officers at the Ford Mansion in Morristown?  Ladies in their petticoats and gowns, wearing caps trimmed in gay ribbons and carrying a parasol as they strolled leisurely down the corridor of new sapling maple trees?