| The Urgent Problem | Photographs
What YOU Can Do
On February 24, 2004 while visiting the home of Jim
and Nancy Sery on Kings Highway at the Mount Royal/Clarksboro, N.J.line--they
own of the historic "Death of the Fox" Tavern (in
the township of East Greenwich, Gloucester County) to take a photograph of their
house for the upcoming town calendar. I was met with some shocking news (it is
MY opinion that this news was shocking)..
A local landowner
of the land abutting--the side and back of--the property where
the Death of the Fox sits, has made arrangements through a building
construction company, [Beazer
Homes] to place a development called THE ESTATES AT MOUNT
ROYAL of approximately 48-51 houses in close proximity to the
Death of the Fox tavern on Kings Highway in East Greenwich, N.J..
[at block 502, lots 41 and 44]. Preliminary plans were submitted
to the East Greenwich planning board. It is my opinion, and that
of many others, that placement of "new houses" in the
planned area will certainly destroy the historic landscape and
integrity of this old tavern forever. According to our township's
Mayor, Dave Jenkins, the East Greenwich Township committee offered
to purchase this land in order to preserve its future use; as
I understand it, the owner refused.
The news article below of February 2006 indicates
has slightly changed its original 51-home plan, first submitted
to the board in November 2003, by eliminating the lot next to
the 277-year-old Death of the Fox Inn." If this
is true, and continues to be true, then kudos to Beazer for
making the proposed changes. Only the future will say whether
they continue on this path, or change their minds yet again. What
were they thinking?
The landscape directly around this home is NO LONGER ENDANGERED,
please read below....
(most recent updates first)
Note: I have removed several links below that have become
outdated, i.e. the links to the original newspaper articles are
no longer available online, due to the articles being archived the
the respective newspapers.
October 2007 - THANK YOU TO EVERYONE who wrote, appeared
at various meetings or otherwise voiced their support!!! I have
informed by a town official that this case has been resolved
in favor of the Death of the Fox.
The owners of the property (the Botto family) and the builders,
Beazer Homes, have agreed to abide by the zoning laws of East Greenwich
Township, and will not build new new homes within 100 feet of the
boundary line of the land on which the lovely historic "Death
of the Fox" sits. This case had been THREE YEARS in the courts.
February 2007 - This case is still being appealed in court
by East Greenwich Twp.
January 2006 - Planning Board Minutes excerpt: "Beazer
Homes had appeared in June 2004 with this application and it was
denied without predjust because of our new zoning change. The Lower
Court demanded we hear this application under the old ordinance
that was in effect at the time of submission." SEE
Board Minutes of January 17, 2006 - rtf file
TWO RECENT NEWS ARTICLES:
2/20/06 Gloucester County Times (see directly
below) | 2/22/06 Courier
Article from Gloucester County Times
E. Greenwich to discuss home plan
Monday, February 20, 2006
By Allegra Tiver email@example.com
EAST GREENWICH TWP. -- Beazer Homes is expected to
return before the planning board on Tuesday to discuss its plan
to develop 50 homes between Berkeley and Whiskey Mill roads in Mount
project was tabled by the planning board at its January meeting.
has slightly changed its original 51-home plan, first submitted to the board in
November 2003, by eliminating the lot next to the 277-year-old Death of the Fox
parcel, previously a hotbed of controversy over historic integrity, could go to
the township or become part of the homeowners association, said township planner
Michael Wisnoski, of Ragan Design Group.
proposed an alternate plan -- 46 homes and a recreation field with a tot lot,
parking lot and bathrooms -- saying it could not make the project work with anything
less. This plan met with no success.
in January expressed concerns about the removal of trees and interfering with
the habitats of wildlife.
are not items that can affect our decision upon approval," said Committeeman
David Jenkins. "A lot of people in New Jersey don't understand how powerless
planning boards really are."
board pushed the hearing for the application to Feb. 21, citing traffic, stormwater
drainage and recreational space concerns.
initial application was processed at the same time the township was making zoning
changes for its new Master Plan. The new zoning ordinance, finalized in May 2004,
decreased the density of homes from three per acre to two.
the planning board grants preliminary approval before a zoning change, you're
protected from future changes," said John Falciani, counsel for landowner
Beazer Homes didn't go before the board until June 2004, at which time the township
formally denied the plans to develop the 44 acres.
and Beazer Homes filed two separate lawsuits last summer. The township filed
Court Judge John Waters found the township complied with procedure in some respects,
but contended "there wasn't proper referral by the township committee to
planning board," according to Falciani.
the Appellate Division and Superior Court remanded Beazer back to the board, to
be heard under the former zoning ordinance.
have to be realistic," Jenkins said. "If you want to prevent development,
you have to purchase the land or get it under open space protection, or else it's
eventually going to grow houses."
from the "Courier
February 22, 2006, Section: B, Page: 3B
housing plan tabled by LISA GRZYBOSKI
Reach Lisa Grzyboski at (856) 486-2401
or lgrzyboski@courierpost online.com
national homebuilder's proposal to erect 50 homes on a densely wooded property
off Kings Highway was tabled on Tuesday for the second time in as many months.
Beazer Homes USA of Atlanta, Ga., blamed the latest delay on a letter it received
from the township planning board engineer on Tuesday, just a few hours before
the planning board meeting.
The board engineer required the company to perform more tests on the 44-acre property's
ground water condition, said Bill Ziegler, the attorney for Beazer Homes. That
forced the homebuilder to request a postponement until the March 21 meeting, he
bottom line is they've got significant water problems,"said Mayor John DeGeorge,
who sits on the planning board.
Last month, the board tabled the company's application so it could get updated
information about the project. Among other things, the board ordered Beazer Homes
to do more testing to measure the site's ground water levels, DeGeorge said.
The company didn't have the results until Thursday, the mayor said.
Analysis of the results showed that on 24 acres of the site, less than five feet
separates the surface from ground water, said board engineer Tom Cundey in his
report. This could force Beazer to redesign the project, he said.
The postponement irritated residents in attendance. While not as many as last
month, those who came expressed the same concerns -- traffic and the environment.
The forested site is a place where locals like to walk their dogs, watch wildlife
and relax. It also abuts the township's historic Death of the Fox Inn, an 18th
Century stopover for local fox hunters.
not saying, "Not in my backyard,' " said Vince Gallagher, who lives
in a subdivision next to the property. "We're saying it has to be
Gallagher and other neighbors want to see fewer homes and as much traffic as possible
directed away from Berkley Road, where traffic backs up at rush hour.
The property is now zoned for two homes per acre under the township's master plan,
but Beazer Homes argues it should be allowed to build three per acre because it
filed its application before the master plan was changed in spring 2004.
The company sued the township and a Superior Court judge in December 2005 ordered
the planning board to hear the proposal under the old zoning rules. The township
plans to appeal the judge's decision.
2005 - This lawsuit was recently mentioned in the East Greenwich Planning Board
for yourself who is still interested in continuing the lawsuit. (rtf file
from Official East Greenwich Township web site). Hopefully there will be a positive
January 2, 2005 - Happy New Year everyone! No news
yet on the outcome of this court case. I will keep you informed when I know anything
more. Please keep us in your prayers.
July 5, 2004 - According
to the Gloucester County Times, Beazer Homes is "suing the township over
a change in local zoning laws that prevented them from moving forward with the
project. Two civil complained filed in Superior Court ... ask the court to overturn
the ordinances approved by the township committee...two separate suits" (also
one by the landowners). They contend they should receive automatic approval of
their application. [NOTE: Should they be allowed to do this, their original plan
called for a new house to be built within approximately 25 feet from the historic
June, 2004 - Beazer Homes attended an East Greenwich Planning
Board meeting where they were given 3 options by the township solicitor: 1) ask
for a continuance to file variances such that they would be requesting the original
plans and asking the board to waive all the new standards of RRC (granting variances
to take them back to R-15); 2) ask for a continuance and file plans which met
the new ordinances, or 3) be denied without prejudice. They chose to be denied
May 11, 2004 - At the East Greenwich Township
Committee meeting tonight, the township's solicitor spoke at length regarding
the April 27th meeting, and the impact of the below mentioned "protest"
on that ordinance. Both he and the township's Planning Board attorney were in
agreement that the protest/petition affects only the portion of the ordinance
regarding an increase of minimum lot sizes in the RR zone, and does NOT affect
the 100-foot buffer for historic homes portion of this ordinance. There was a
unanimous vote by the East Greenwich Township Committee to recognize that Ordinance
10-04 was properly adopted in full (except for the portion increasing the minimum
acreage in the RR zone to 2 acres which will go back to the Planning Board). According
to this ordinance, all builders/developers MUST PROVIDE A 100-FOOT BUFFER BETWEEN
HISTORIC HOMES [AS LISTED IN THE TOWNSHIP'S MASTER PLAN] AND NEW DEVELOPMENT.
A 100 foot buffer from the property on which the Death of the Fox sits will
preserve its landscape for future generations.
27, 2004 - Although a majority of our township committee voted to accept the
proposed Ordinance 10-04 that would have amended Title 16 ("Land Development
Code") of East Greenwich Township, TWO of the committee members (both Democrats)
voted NOT to accept it. A "protest/petition" had been filed that evening
with the township, protesting the increase in minimum lot sizes from 1 to 2 acres
in the RR zone. The matter regarding this ordinance was referred to the Township
solicitor. I wish to
thank all of those residents who spoke last evening to support the ordinance.
I also respect all of the residents who spoke against the ordinance, as I am a
strong supporter of one's right to voice their opinions.
13, 2004- The East Greenwich Township Committee met and invited public comment
on the ordinances that were referred to them by our township's planning board.
I voiced my support of the historic property ordinance requiring a 100 foot buffer
between new development and historic properties. No one voiced opposition at this
8, 2004 - The East Greenwich Planning Board met and, following public comment,
voted to refer a number of ordinances to the East Greenwich Township Committee.
One of those ordinances included a historic ordinance that reads: " A minimum
100 foot buffer must be provided adjacent to all lots on which historically significant
structures are located as identified under Known and Potential Historic
Sites in East Greenwich in the Historic Preservation Element of the Townships
Master Plan." Upon inquiry, the planning board indicated that additional
historic properties may be added to the "Known and Potential Historic Sites..."
by presenting them to the township's planning board. I approve 100% of this ordinance,
as it will protect our township's historic structures and places.
26, 2004 - The East Greenwich Township's Master Plan meeting was held last
night. It was "standing room only" and many residents spoke to support
the historic component of the plan (there was discussion on other parts of the
master plan also). The Planning Board voted to ACCEPT the Master Plan! Our next
step was to press for an ordinance to be written to extend the distance between
new housing and historic properties to 100 feet minimum, and to attend the planning
board meeting when this ordinance is presented to the public for comment.
19, 2004 - The East Greenwich NJ
MASTER PLAN [click on the scrolling "Master Plan" text] is online
in PDF format. Please read it! Local residents of East Greenwich, NJ (Clarksboro,
Mount Royal and Mickleton) attended the Master Planning meeting on March 26th,
and voiced their support of the historic preservation segment. Thank you everyone!
NOTE: THIS VERSION OF THE MASTER PLAN DOES NOT INCLUDE THE MOST RECENT UPDATES/CHANGES.
with the East Greenwich Township Clerk for the most recent edition.
March 17, 2004 - MANY supporters of preserving the landscape of the Death
of the Fox Inn attended the East Greenwich Planning Board meeting. For an hour,
residents came forward and voiced their support of preserving the land surrounding
this historic tavern.READ
my presentation to the Township's planning board on March 16th. It was an
open invitation to Beazer homes to act as stewards with us to save Death of the
Fox [PDF document].
13, 2004 - The Courier Post article about the "Death of the Fox, "Landscape
Needs Preserving Too."
Historic places are among our greatest treasures. These are the places that
shape our communities, tell our stories, and keep our history alive. The Death
of the Fox can be associated with significant historic events. It celebrates our
towns history and identity. Above all, it reflects the East Greenwich and
Southern New Jersey experience, instills pride in our achievements, and could
potentially attract visitors from across the country and the world. We owe it
to future generations of New Jerseyans to cherish, protect and preserve this rich
legacy. Our town's character is built upon the Death of the Fox and other historic
buildings that have unique characteristics--they differentiate our town from others
in South Jersey.
integrity is the authenticity of a property's historic identity, evidenced by
the survival of physical characteristics that existed during the property's prehistoric
or historic period. Historic integrity enables a property to illustrate significant
aspects of its past.
a nutshell, by drastically changing the physical attributes of the land surrounding
this house (i.e. building NEW houses so close that the Death of the Fox will seem
out of place, rather than the other way around), the historic integrity of this
building WILL BE LOST FOREVER--not just for a while--FOREVER! This issue is not
one affecting only one property--it will continue to be a serious problem for
all historic properties in East Greenwich until our township residents work to
the past I urged you to contact the development company who have proposed building
the ESTATES AT MOUNT ROYAL namely Beazer
Homes. YOUR LETTERS HELPED!
SEE THE UPDATES about this development
1000 Abernathy Road
Atlanta, GA 30328
Homes Officers | Beazer
Homes Board of Directors
read the history of this house! It is an important part of not only
East Greenwich, N.J.'s history, but has historical significance beyond our township.
THAT TELL THE STORY
of Death of Fox showing house lot. The Sery's property ends on the right side
to 2 feet beyond their current driveway (where the vehicle is shown parked); it
extends to the white outbuilding/garage (shown in other photo); it extends to
the left a short distance beyond the photo to the railroad track, and on the left
back side to just inside the tree line shown. The photographs does not do justice
to the extremely short distance from the house to the proposed new buildings.
photograph shows the driveway (on the right) where the property ends, then a small
wooded lot with trees and brush which will be cleared for the house and driveway
proposed to sit by the white outbuilding/garage.
This photograph shows
the location of the white outbuilding, as it relates to the house itself. One
of the proposed new home sites is within 10 feet of this white outbuilding/garage,
and will have a driveway out to Kings Highway.
photograph shows the condition (February 2004) of the small lot next to the Sery
house (Death of the Fox).
Can You Do?
issue has been resolved, there is no need for you to do anything.
But let us learn a lesson from this. It is up to you to discover
what laws and ordinances are protecting (or not) historic properties
in your own township. Work with your township officials to protect
such homes and properties BEFORE a crisis happens.
Just because a home is historic does not mean that individual
property owners or home construction developers will work toward