Plainfield, New Jersey 07060

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Chief McGhie

Caroline Ruffin and Clarence McGhie hosted the cooking club on October 25th. Clarence prepared turkey and chicken cutlets with four tasty seasoned crusts to try out.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

An Old Fashioned Christmas House Tour

Sunday, December 9, 2007.
2:00pm to 7:00pm
Tickets: $25.00 per person
Prepare for a jolly time on Sunday, December 9th! The house tour committee is finalizing a roster of homes spanning two hundred years of architectural styles from 1750' to the 1950's. Homeowners will be decking the halls and the sights, aromas, and sounds of Christmas will greet you at each door. More about the house tour will follow here on our blog, including directions and advance ticket sale locations.
Anyone wishing to help by joining in on the planning will be welcome and appreciated! Next tour committee meeting: September 17, 8:00pm, 915 Madison Avenue.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Abbott Manor Court Case Update

On July 26, 2007, Union Countiy's Judge Barisonek ruled in our favor in the case brought to challenge Board of Adjustment approval of the the expansion of the Abbott Manor Nursing home. The judge gave a 1 hour and 40 minute oral decision in which he thoroughly went over the issues brought out in the transcripts of the hearings. It was obvious that he read the transcripts cover to cover. He quoted numerous statements by the expert witnesses of both sides, citing page numbers, as well as quoting from both the 2002 and 2005 Board of Adjustment’s resolutions. The Board of Adjustment's 2002 denial of the nursing home expansion will be reinstated.
Excerpts of Bill Michelson’s Summary of Judge Barisonek’s Decision
In evaluating the impact which the project would have on the historic district, I think two things influenced the Judge greatly. One is that he examined the model which showed clearly how massive it would be, as compared with surrounding properties. The other is that the other intrusions into the district (notably the 1950s-style apartments across the street), including the old Abbott Manor addition, all pre-dated the creation of the district in 1982.

The Judge believes that the Board was so overwhelmed by the federal court settlement, and Rother's threat of further litigation, that it simply lost sight of all the proper criteria for deciding the case. He blamed part of this expressly on Rother's planner, Peter Steck, who… told the Board what its obligations to the handicapped supposedly were, under the Fair Housing Act Amendments of 1988. This is because he found Mr. Steck's analysis to be utterly wrong. He therefore adopted my most basic complaint, which was that the 2005 Board members seemed to think that rejecting the project was simply not an option allowed to them, and that they had contorted their reasoning to reach an approval.

Turning then to the FHAA test under Lapid-Laurel, he found that the statute does not give the handicapped in nursing homes a right to live at a particular location, but to be able to live somewhere in town. Since Plainfield allows nursing homes and assisted living in several other zones, he found it preposterous that they should insist on a particular location that presents real problems. He found false Rother's statement that no other site in town was available, and seemed angry at it. I believe he agreed with me that the 2005 Board's citation to Hovsons but not Lapid-Laurel (those who have followed this will understand) was nothing short of intellectually dishonest. He agreed with me also that the whole point of Lapid-Laurel is that the FHAA does not trump state and local zoning law, but should be viewed in harmony with it.

The parallel issue in state zoning law is called "inherently beneficial use", and the case everyone cites is Sica. He went our way on the most basic legal point I have advanced: that since we now have historic preservation laws, being in a historic district becomes one of the "negative criteria" for applications like this, and a very big one at that. In other words, for the first time, a New Jersey court has declared the validity and importance of historic districts, and described what their effect should be on land-use applications. He even said that letting this project in would cause a "domino effect" that has to be prohibited, and stated that the Board was wrong to give so little heed to the three reports from the Historic Preservation Commission, which advised solidly against the project even as improved. In fact, the Judge went further than I did on one point: that an "inherently beneficial" use may cease to be so, at the wrong location. He therefore suggested that the Board need never have applied the four-prong Sica test or the two-part Lapid-Laurel test, as it could have ruled at the outset that the project was completely unacceptable at this location. In fact, he summed up by saying that, aside from the desirability of nursing homes, every piece of evidence and piece of testimony in the whole case was negative to CPR's application. He will enter an Order vacating the 2005 Resolution, which will have the effect of reinstating the one from 2002.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cooking Club News

Lobster Roast
The club decided unanimously that it was Arne's turn to cook. One of his specialties is a clam & lobster roast done over an open pit fire. It will take place in the back yard of the Pillars at 922 Central Avenue on Sunday, July 22nd. More details and the cost to attend will follow in the blog and at the July 16th general meeting. We will need to know if you're coming by Wednesday, July 18th. Call Arne at 908-756-5036 or email him at to reserve your place.

Silk Road Restaurant Outing
Sixteen district members joined the VWB Cooking Club on June 28th for an outing to Silk Road, an Afgan restaurant in Warren, -orange and saffron rice, butternut squash dumplings, veal and lamb rubbed with spices, and scallion and herb stuffed steamed dumplings were sampled from the menu. Don Sobieski has become a regular customer...his recommendation: go for lunch and avoid Saturday night lines to get in. It has been observed by some that the cooking club has morphed into an eating club....

Sunday, May 6, 2007

"In Praise of Porches"

How Porches Influenced Life In Plainfield In the Victorian Era
Sponsored By: The Historical Society of Plainfield
When: Sunday, June 3rd
Time: 2:00 PM
Starting Point: The Pillars, 922 Central Avenue
A walking tour to several homes in the Van Wyck Brooks Historic District with distinctive porches. Meet the present owners and learn about their homes and how they use their
porches now. Refreshments will be served at the end of the tour at the Pillars.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

"An Architectural Walking Tour"

Sponsored By: The Historical Society of Plainfield
When: Sunday May 20th
Time: 2:00PM to 4:00PM
Starting Point: The Pillars, 922 Central Avenue
Tickets: $5/ Person, $10/ Family
Available day of event at Pillars at 1:00PM
Off Street Parking: DuCret School of Art, 1030 Central Ave. and Black United Fund, 403 W. 7th St.

An architectural walking tour through the Van Wyck Brooks Historic District. Participants will receive a booklet giving architectural descriptions of houses in the district dating from 1803 through the 1930s. Tour guides will highlights homes in the district that feature such architectural elements as patterned wood shingles, stone, terra cotta tile, turrets, towers, dragon-back ridge, half-timbering, medieval chimneys and Tudor arches. Participants will learn about the architectural styles popular during the period, such as Shingle, Victorian Vernacular, Queen Anne, Italianate, Jacobethan and French Revival.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

VWBHD Booth At Plainfield Pride Picnic

  • Sunday, June 10th, 12:00 Noon to 6:00PM
  • Leland Avenue Park
  • Our district has reserved a booth to distribute information
  • Volunteers needed to man booth