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)
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
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.
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
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.
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.