Township of Florence, NJ
Burlington County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents

§ 91-260 Purpose.

The purposes of this district are as follows:
A. 
To safeguard the heritage of the Township of Florence by preserving that portion which reflects elements of its cultural, social, economic and architectural history.
B. 
To maintain and develop an appropriate and harmonious setting for the architecturally significant historic buildings, structures and places within the affected portion of the Township.
C. 
To stabilize and improve upon property values.
D. 
To foster civic beauty and continuity with the historic area.
E. 
To promote the uses of the Historic District for the pleasure, education and welfare of the inhabitants of and visitors to the district.

§ 91-261 Permitted uses.

Permitted uses in the H District shall be the same uses as are allowed in those districts which comprise the Historic District; provided, however, that no building or structure shall be erected, reconstructed, substantially altered, changed or restored until the Planning Board approves site plans therefor.

§ 91-262 Intent.

A. 
In adopting this Article, it is the intention of the Township Council to create a Historic Preservation Commission to serve in an advisory capacity for certain matters before the Township Planning Board affecting the Historic District of the Township and to assist the Township Zoning Board of Adjustment in a reviewing/adjudicatory capacity for certain matters concerning regulation of construction and land use in the Historic District of the Township.
B. 
With respect to applications before the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment, which applications relate to new construction, land use or demolition of structures or the construction, alteration or relocation of a sign, within the Historic Preservation Zone, the applications shall be initially referred to the Historic Preservation Commission as required by the Municipal Land Use Law[1] and this chapter. In considering such applications, the Commission and the Boards shall be guided by the documents referred to and the standards set forth herein.
[1]
Editor's Note: See N.J.S.A. 40:55D-1 et seq.

§ 91-263 Historic Preservation Commission.

A. 
Responsibilities. There is hereby created a Historic Preservation Commission in order to carry out the responsibilities set forth in this Historic District Preservation Ordinance and N.J.S.A. 40:55D-107 through 40:55D-111, inclusive.
B. 
Membership. The Commission shall consist of seven regular members and two alternate members. The members shall be divided into three classes as follows:
(1) 
Class A: A person who is knowledgeable in building design and construction or architectural history and who may reside outside of Florence Township.
(2) 
Class B: A person who is knowledgeable or with a demonstrated interest in local history and who may reside outside of Florence Township.
(3) 
Class C: Citizens of Florence Township who shall hold no other municipal office, position or employment except that they may have membership on the Township's Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment.
C. 
Appointment and terms.
(1) 
The members of the Commission shall serve without compensation. Of the regular members, a total of at least three shall be of Classes A and B and there shall be at least one Class A and one Class B member. Those regular members who are not designated as Class A or B shall be designated as Class C. Alternate members shall meet the qualifications of Class C members. The Mayor shall appoint all members of the Commission and shall designate at the time of appointment the regular members by Class and the alternate members as "Alternate No. 1" and "Alternate No. 2". The Mayor, prior to making the appointment of seven members to the Commission, shall elicit recommendations for membership from the Roebling Historical Society and the Florence Township Historical Society, provided that these organizations exist, the general public and other interested individuals or groups. At least two of the seven members shall be property owners in the Historic District.
(2) 
The terms of the members first appointed under this subsection shall be so determined that, to the greatest practicable extent, the expiration of the terms shall be distributed, in the case of regular members, evenly over the first four years after their appointment and, in the case of alternate members, evenly over the first two years after their appointment, provided that the initial term of no regular member shall exceed four years and that initial term of no alternate member shall exceed two years. Thereafter, the term of a regular member shall be four years, and the term of an alternate member shall be two years. A vacancy occurring other than by expiration of term shall be filled for the unexpired term only. A term of a Planning Board member or a Zoning Board member shall coincide with the term of such member on the Planning Board or Zoning Board. Vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment and shall be only for the balance of the unexpired term.
(3) 
Alternate members may participate in discussions of the proceedings but may not vote except in the absence or disqualification of a regular member. A vote shall not be delayed in order that a regular member may vote instead of an alternate member. In the event that a choice must be made as to which alternate member is to vote, Alternate No. 1 shall vote.
D. 
Conflicts of interest and removal.
(1) 
No member may act on any matter in which the member has any personal or financial interest, either directly or indirectly.
(2) 
A member may be removed by the Township Council for cause. Prior to such removal, the Township Council shall conduct a hearing if so requested, in writing, by the member within 10 days of notice of intention to remove.
E. 
Officers, staff and expenditures.
(1) 
The Commission shall elect a Chairperson and Vice Chairperson from its members and select a Secretary, who may or may not be a member of the commission or a municipal employee, to keep a record of the proceedings before the Commission, which shall include the voting records of the members, their attendance, resolutions acted upon by the Commission and any of its findings, determinations and decisions.
(2) 
At least four members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of its business.
(3) 
The Commission shall adopt rules for the transaction of its business, which rules shall provide for the time and place of holding regular meetings and for the calling of special meetings by the Chairperson or at least three members of the Commission. All meetings of the Commission shall be governed by the New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act.[1] Any matter not covered by the Commission's adopted rules or by statute shall be governed by Robert's Rules of Order.
[1]
Editor's Note: N.J.S.A. 10:4-1 et seq.
(4) 
The Township Council shall provide for a Commission in its budget and shall appropriate such funds for the expenses of the Commission as the Township Council, in its sole discretion shall determine, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:55D-108. The Commission may employ, contract for and fix the compensation of experts and other staff and services as it shall deem necessary, except that the Commission shall obtain its legal counsel from the Township Solicitor at the hourly rate of compensation set forth in the Township Solicitor's contract with the municipality. Expenditures pursuant to this subsection shall not exceed, exclusive of gifts or grants, the amount appropriated by the Township Council for the Commission's use.
F. 
Powers of the Commission. In addition to powers established in N.J.S.A. 40:55D-109, the Commission shall have the power to:
(1) 
Make recommendations to the appropriate individuals and/or reviewing boards on pending development applications involving new construction, demolition of structures or the construction, alteration, relocation or demolition of signs which affect landmarks or historic sites through the issuance or denial of certificate of appropriateness, pursuant to Subsection F.
(2) 
Recommend, as circumstances warrant, amendments to the list of landmarks specified in the community facility plan, amendments to the Historic District Map or the creation of new historic districts to the appropriate governmental body charged with the responsibility of implementing those recommendations.
(3) 
Report at least annually to the Planning Board and the Township Council on the state of historic preservation in Florence and make recommendations to improve it.
(4) 
Prepare and distribute material on the importance of historic preservation and techniques for achieving same and purpose of the Historic Preservation Commission.
(5) 
Advise all Township agencies regarding goals and techniques of historic preservation.
(6) 
Adopt and promulgate such regulations and procedures, not inconsistent with this chapter, as are necessary and proper for the effective and efficient performance of the duties expressed herein.
(7) 
Promulgate guidelines for financial assistance eligibility for those persons who voluntarily participate in the Historic Preservation Program.

§ 91-264 Activities requiring certificates of appropriateness.

A certificate of appropriateness, issued by the Commission, shall be required before (1) action on any development approval by the Planning Board or the Zoning Board of Adjustment on an application for development involving new construction, demolition of structures or the construction, alteration, relocation or demolition of signs in the Historic District or affecting a Historic Site or landmark, which requires the issuance of a building, demolition or sign permit, before the commencing of work at a historic site, where the permit or work involves any of the following activities:
A. 
Demolition or relocation involving a historic site.
B. 
An addition or alteration to a historic site which changes its appearance.
C. 
New construction of any building or structure at an historic site.
D. 
Erection, alteration, location, relocation, construction, reconstruction, maintenance or change to any sign located on a historic site.

§ 91-265 Application procedures; approval or denial.

A. 
Application. Prior to the issuance of a building, demolition or sign permit or the commencement of work involving any of the activities required under § 91-254, the person charged with the issuance of such permit shall determine whether approval by the Commission is required. If such approval is required, a property owner or an applicant for a permit shall make application to the Commission, on forms approved by it, for a certificate of appropriateness, and the property owner or applicant for a permit shall file a properly completed application and pay all appropriate fees to the Administrative Officer. The Administrative Officer shall schedule consideration of the matter at the next available Commission meeting, which shall be no earlier than 10 days nor later than 30 days after the date a complete application is submitted. Applications need not be submitted where the matter has been referred to the Historic Commission by the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment.
B. 
Contents of applications. The applicant shall submit an application form, including architectural drawings and plans prepared by a New Jersey licensed architect, photographs, sign designs and other information required to be submitted under the regulations adopted by the Commission, which regulations shall establish what documents shall be filed in order for the application to be deemed complete.
C. 
Time limitations. The Commission shall have 45 days from the date of the submission or resubmission of a complete application to act upon the application. If the Commission does not act upon the application within the time period provided, the application shall be deemed to have been approved and the certificate of appropriateness granted without condition. The time periods provided may be extended by mutual agreement between the applicant and the Commission.
D. 
Approval or denial. The Commission may either approve the application as submitted, deny the application as inconsistent with the standards contained within this chapter or approve the application with those conditions which the Commission finds are appropriate to impose in order to carry out the intent and purpose of this chapter. The action of the Commission on any application shall be done by written resolution setting forth the findings of fact and conclusions of law upon which its decision rests, and the Commission shall issue, not issue or conditionally issue the certificate of appropriateness as may be determined.
E. 
Sign application. Any person seeking a building permit to construct, alter, repair, move or demolish a sign on an historic site shall be required to receive a certificate of appropriateness from the Commission. The Administrative Officer shall review all preapplication forms involving signs with the criteria used in this section and classify them accordingly, with the same provisions applying.

§ 91-266 Standards of consideration.

A. 
It is intended that demolition of historic sites shall be discouraged, as their loss will be a common loss to the Township of Florence and the neighborhood. Moving a historic site would be encouraged only as the last resort as an alternative to demolition, if there is no other way to save the historic site.
B. 
It is also the intent of this section that the Commission shall review plans for new construction so that this construction is compatible with existing structures in the neighborhood. It is not intended that new construction be a copy of a particular historic period or style, but rather be compatible in the use of materials, scale, color, size, design and setback.
C. 
A certificate of appropriateness shall be approved if the Commission specifically finds that the applicant cannot otherwise reasonably use the property for a use permitted by Part 3 of this chapter.

§ 91-267 Demolitions.

A. 
In regard to an application involving issuance of a demolition permit affecting a historic site, the following matters shall be considered:
(1) 
Its historic, architectural and social significance.
(2) 
Its potential for use for those purposes currently permitted by Part 3 of this chapter.
(3) 
Its importance to the Township and the extent to which its historical or architectural value is such that its removal would be detrimental to the public interest.
(4) 
The extent to which it is of such old, unusual or uncommon design, craftsmanship, texture or material that it could not be reproduced or could be produced only with great difficulty.
(5) 
The extent to which its retention would promote the general welfare by maintaining and increasing real estate values; generating business; creating new jobs; attracting tourists, students, writers, historians, artists and artisans and new residents; encouraging study and interest in American history; stimulating study in architecture and design; educating citizens in American culture and heritage; and making the Township a more attractive and desirable place in which to live.
(6) 
If it is within a Historic District, the probable impact of its removal upon the ambiance of the Historic District.
(7) 
The health and safety of the public.
B. 
If a property owner shows the Commission that a historic site is capable of earning economic return on its value, as appraised by a qualified real estate appraiser, the Commission may delay issuance of the demolition permit for a period of time not to exceed six months. The Commission shall have the right to obtain its own appraisal at the expense of the applicant. Notice of the proposed demolition shall be posted on the premises of the building or structure in a location clearly visible from the street.
C. 
The purpose of this section is to further the purposes of this chapter by preserving historic buildings and to afford the Township, interested persons or historical societies or organizations the opportunity to acquire or to arrange for the preservation of such buildings. The Commission may, at any time during such delay, approve a certificate of appropriateness and, at the end of six months, must automatically approve a certificate of appropriateness, in which event a demolition permit shall be issued without further delay.

§ 91-268 Historic site removals.

A. 
In regard to an application to move a historic site to a location outside the Township, the following matters shall be considered:
(1) 
The historic loss to the site of the original location and the district as a whole.
(2) 
The compelling reasons for not retaining the historic site at its present location.
(3) 
The proximity of the proposed new location in the Township,including the assessability to the residents of the Township and other citizens.
(4) 
The probability of significant damage to the historic site.
(5) 
The applicable matters listed in § 91-267.
B. 
In regard to an application to move a historic site to a new location within the Township, the following matters shall be considered, in addition to the matters listed in Subsection A above:
(1) 
The compatibility, nature and character of the current and of the proposed surrounding areas as they relate to the intent and purposes of this chapter.
(2) 
If the proposed new location remains within the Historic District, the visual compatibility factors shall follow those outlined in § 91-272B.

§ 91-269 Additional considerations.

In regard to an application for approval of other proposed changes as set forth in requiring a certificate of appropriateness, the following matters shall be considered:
A. 
The impact of the proposed change on this historic architectural character.
B. 
The extent to which there would be involvement of textures or materials that could not be reproduced only with great difficulty.
C. 
The use of any historic site is involved.

§ 91-270 Commission action.

A. 
After action either approving or disapproving an application, the Commission shall issue a certificate of appropriateness and provide the applicant and the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment, if the matter has been referred to the Commission by those Boards, otherwise, the Administrative Officer, with a certified copy of the certificate.
B. 
The Planning Board of Zoning Board of Adjustment shall consider the Historic Commission comments and approval or disapproval of the certificate of appropriateness before taking action on any application of or development in the Historic District or effecting a historic site or landmark.
C. 
The Administrative Officer shall consider the comments and approval or disapproval of the certificate of appropriateness when considering the issuance of any building demolition, new construction or sign permit. However, if the Historic Commission recommends to the Administrative Officer against the issuance of a permit and disapproves the certificate of appropriateness or recommends conditions to the permit, the Administrative Officer shall deny the issuance of the permit or include the conditions in the permit, as the case may be.
D. 
Failure of the Historic Commission to approve or disapprove a certificate of appropriateness within 45 days of the matter being submitted to the Commission shall be deemed to constitute approval of the certificate of approval.
E. 
In the event that an applicant alleges that compliance with the requirements of this section would create an unreasonable hardship and that the nature of the application is such that the change sought neither justifies the time and expense of the plenary proceeding nor will impact negatively on the public good not specifically on the historic qualities sought to be preserved, the Commission, by the affirmative vote of five of its members, may grant such relief from the requirements of this section as it deems consistent with the public good and the purposes of this section.

§ 91-271 Financial assistance.

A. 
If the cost of compliance with the requirements of this section increases the cost of the work proposed to be done, the applicant may apply to the Historic Preservation Commission for financial assistance for such excess costs. To the extent permitted by law, such financial assistance may be in the form of a grant of all or a part of the excess costs or of a no-interest or low-interest loan for all or part of such excess costs.
B. 
Factors to be considered by the Commission in granting or denying such application shall include:
(1) 
Degree of financial hardship created by the mandated improvements.
(2) 
Value of the property after completion of the originally proposed improvements and value of the property after completion of the mandated improvements.
(3) 
Relevance of the mandated improvements to the originally proposed improvements.
(4) 
Value of the mandated improvements to the originally proposed improvements.
(5) 
Availability of funds.
(6) 
Such other factors as the Commission deems appropriate.

§ 91-272 General review criteria; visual compatibility factors.

The following general review criteria and visual compatibility factors apply to demolition, new construction and signs and apply to voluntary participation in the Historic Preservation Program so as to be eligible for financial assistance. In assessing the effect of any proposed demolition or structure removal or sign application at a historic site or landmark or where persons voluntarily participate in the Historic Preservation Program in order to be eligible for financial assistance, the following general review criteria found in the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and the following visual compatibility factors shall be used to analyze the effect that the change applied for would have on the historic site and on those structures to which the historic site is visually related.
A. 
General review criteria.
(1) 
Every reasonable effort shall be made to provide a compatible use for a property which requires minimal alteration of the building, structure or site and its environment, or to use a property for its originally intended purpose.
(2) 
The distinguishing original qualities or character of a building, structure or site and its environment shall not be destroyed. The removal or alteration of any historic material or distinctive architectural features should be avoided when possible.
(3) 
All buildings, structures and sites shall be recognized as products of their own time. Alterations that have no historical basis and that seek to create an earlier or newer appearance shall be discouraged.
(4) 
Changes that may have taken place in the course of time are evidence of the history and development of a building, structure or site and its environment. These changes may have acquired significance in their own right, and this significance may be recognized.
(5) 
Distinctive stylistic features or examples of skilled craftsmanship which characterize a building, structure or site shall be treated with sensitivity.
(6) 
Deteriorated architectural features shall be repaired rather than replaced whenever possible. In the event that replacement is necessary, the new materials should match the material being repaired in design, color, texture and other visual quantities. Repair or replacement of missing architectural features should be based on accurate duplications of features, substantiated by historic, physical or pictorial evidence, rather than on conjectural designs or the availability of different architectural elements from other buildings or structures.
(7) 
The surface cleaning of structures shall be undertaken with the gentlest means possible. Sandblasting or other clearing methods that will damage the historic buildings shall not be undertaken.
(8) 
Every reasonable effort shall be made to protect and preserve archaeological resources affected by or adjacent to any project.
(9) 
Contemporary design for alterations and additions to existing properties shall not be discouraged when such alterations and additions do not destroy significant historical, architectural or cultural material and such design is compatible with the size, scale, color, materials and character of the property, neighborhood or environment.
(10) 
Whenever possible, new additions or alterations to structures shall be done in such a manner that if such additions or alterations were to be removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the structure would be unimpaired.
B. 
Visual compatibility factors.
(1) 
The height of the proposed buildings shall be visually compatible with adjacent buildings.
(2) 
Proportion of building's front facade. The relationship of the width of the building to the height of the front elevation shall be visually compatible with buildings and places to which it is visually related.
(3) 
Proportion of openings within the facility. The relationship of the width of windows to the height of windows in a building shall be visually compatible with the buildings and places to which it is visually related.
(4) 
Rhythm of solids to voids on fronting of public places. The relationship of solids to voids in such facades of a building shall be visually compatible with the buildings and places to which they are visually related.
(5) 
Rhythm of spacing of buildings on streets. The relationship of the building to the open space between it and adjoining buildings shall be visually compatible with the buildings and places to which it is visually related.
(6) 
Rhythm of entrance and/or porch projections. The relationship of entrance and porch projections to the street shall be visually compatible with the buildings and places to which it is visually related.
(7) 
Relationship of materials, texture and color of the facade and roof of a building shall be visually compatible with the predominant materials used in the buildings to which it is visually related.
(8) 
The roof shape of a building shall be visually compatible with buildings to which it is visually related.
(9) 
Appurtenances of a building such as a wall, open type fencing or evergreen landscape masses shall form cohesive walls of enclosure along a street to the extent necessary to maintain visual compatibility of the building with the buildings and places to which it is visually related.
(10) 
The size of a building, the mass of a building in relation to open spaces, the windows, door openings, porches and balconies shall be visually compatible with the buildings and places to which it is visually related.
(11) 
A building shall be visually compatible with buildings and places to which it is visually related in its directional character, whether this be vertical character, horizontal character or nondirectional character.

§ 91-273 Sign review criteria; maintenance.

A. 
The Commission will review sign applications with the requirements and review standards applicable to signs in Article XIX of this chapter of the Code of the Township of Florence and with the following sign-review criteria:
(1) 
Compatibility. The size, shape and character of the sign shall be in keeping with the historic character of the Historic District and of the historic site on which the sign is located. Good signage should create an effective depiction of goods, items or services and should relate to its surroundings in an inoffensive and constructive way.
(2) 
Visual quality.
(a) 
The signage for a particular building or shop should be reduced to the fewest separate panels or statements as possible.
(b) 
Most buildings are designed with a definite panel or framed zone for the sign mounting. This should be used with the sign taking a complementary shape.
(c) 
Signs on buildings should not obliterate or obscure the architecture of the building. A sign on a building should be compatible or integral with it.
(d) 
Obsolete signage from defunct activities should be removed unless it is an integral part of the building's original architecture.
(e) 
Each business, office or shop should rely on one, or at the most two, letter styles to enhance readability, as well as to create a more dependable logo for the business.
(f) 
The usage of self-illuminated signs shall be restricted, as such signs are less appropriate to the basic architectural and historical character of Florence's Historic District.
(g) 
Signs shall be installed so as to be flush with the exterior wall of the historic site.
B. 
Sign maintenance. To bring signage within the Historic District into a complementary and unified format, the maintenance of a sign within the Historic District, whether existing prior to the effective date of this section or otherwise, shall require the issuance of a certificate of appropriateness under the standards of this section. Owners of signs in existence on the effective date of this section shall apply for and obtain a certificate of appropriateness for their respective signs within two years of the effective date of this section, or their right to continue maintenance of the sign shall terminate.
C. 
Interior signs. Interior signs which are intended to be viewed from the outside of the building or structure shall conform to the requirements of this section insofar as they are applicable.

§ 91-274 Issuance of certificate of appropriateness.

The issuance of a certificate of appropriateness shall be binding upon the person charged with the issuing of the building, demolition or sign permit in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:55D-111.

§ 91-275 Appeals.

A. 
When a matter is referred to the Historic Commission by the Administrative Officer, the grant, grant with conditions or denial of a certificate of appropriateness and the consequent determination of the person charged with the issuance of the building, demolition or sign permit may be appealed to the Zoning Board of Adjustment of the Township of Florence on the record produced before the Commission in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:55D-72. In such appeal, the Zoning Board shall make independent findings of fact and may affirm, modify or reverse the decision of the Commission. If the Zoning Board desires, it can take additional testimony, consider additional evidence or remand the matter to the Commission for further deliberation.
B. 
Nothing herein shall be deemed to limit the right of judicial review of the Zoning Board's actions after an appeal is concluded by the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

§ 91-276 Violations and penalties.

A. 
Any person who undertakes an activity regulated by this Article without first having obtained a certificate of appropriateness shall be in violation of this Article. Prior to prosecution of such a violation, the Zoning Officer shall serve upon the owner a notice of the violation, describing in detail its nature and the action which the owner must take to abate the violation. If the owner cannot be personally served with the notice, a copy shall be posted on the site, and a copy shall be sent, certified mail, return receipt requested, to the owner at his last known address as it appears on the Township tax rolls. In the event that the violation described within the notice is not abated within the time provided within such notice, the owner shall be deemed in violation of this Article and shall be subject to prosecution before the Municipal Court of the Township of Florence.
B. 
Any person who violates the provisions of this Article shall be punishable as provided in § 91-16. Each day that a violation of this Article occurs or continues after the time period for abatement has run shall be a separate violation under this Article. In addition, the Township of Florence may apply to the Superior Court of New Jersey for injunctive relief to prohibit a violation of this Article.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code; see Chapter 1, General Provisions, Art. I.