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December   6

Court Hands Plofker Win

A Superior court judge in Newark today verbally dismissed efforts by a preservationist group to save the Marlboro Inn from demolition.

Last month, the Marlboro Inn Preservation Association had won a temporary restraining order preventing developer Steve Plofker from demolishing the inn. MIPA had also named the Township of Montclair in its lawsuit, charging the town council with being arbitrary and capricious in its decision not to landmark the building. Today, the group lost its case.

"MIPA is of course disappointed that we were not able to overcome the necessary technical legal burdens in order to prove our case," said Martin Schwartz, an organizer of MIPA. "Every rational person in town knows that the Marlboro Inn is a historic building which should have been landmarked and that a 10 home sub-division is not in Montclair's best interests."

Plofker, who attended the court hearing, wouldn't comment about specific plans for taking down the inn.

"I applaud the passion and resourcefulness of Mr. Schwartz and his associates," he said afteward. "I hope they didn't spend a lot of money. And I'm sorry for their sake they didn't prevail."

December 6, 2004 in Marlboro Inn | Permalink


I applaud both the decision and the apparent grace displayed by Mr. Plofker.

Posted by: Right of Center | Dec 6, 2004 3:02:04 PM

The only way I'd applaud Mr. Plofker is if he would leave town.

Posted by: Miss Martta | Dec 6, 2004 4:44:39 PM

Speaking as someone who has been on both sides of the issue, it is next to impossible to get a court to rule a municipality "arbitrary and capricious". The burden of proof is overwhelmingly in favor of the town.

Make of this what you will.

Posted by: The Prop | Dec 6, 2004 5:09:38 PM

"it is next to impossible to get a court to rule a municipality "arbitrary and capricious".

....thank goodness!

Posted by: Right of Center | Dec 6, 2004 5:19:50 PM

that's a shame. the town is worse off for it.

Posted by: dude | Dec 6, 2004 8:33:00 PM

I happen to be somewhat left of center, and not particularly rich, but in this case I think the sensible side has won. Not all old, empty buildings are worth saving. And 10 houses on a block isn't dense at all. I'm not sure why there's so much resistance to this, but I'd guess it's mostly generated by neighbors who don't want a year of construction in their midst.

Posted by: McP | Dec 6, 2004 10:24:02 PM

I'm a rational person - and I find it offensive when others feel that they (and they alone!) know what is and is not in Montclair's best interests. I agree w/you, McP. Hey - i have an office on Trinity Place. While i applaud (finally!!) positive momentum w/the Hahnes building, demolition and construction will wreak havoc on available parking for me and my staff. Such is life.

Posted by: rhubarbd | Dec 6, 2004 11:15:52 PM

I love the quote from Schwartz, who has enjoyed posing as an even-tempered, diplomatic voice of reason on the Watercooler while maintaining undertones of disdain for anyone with a dissenting opinion on the issue of property owners' rights vs. historic preservation.

According to Schwartz, anyone in town who doesn't see this as some kind of tragic loss for the people of Montclair is not a "rational person." Really? That's a mighty broad brush you've got there, Marty. You may want to stow that before your next patronizing explanation of some arcane township issue that we proles are failing to grasp.

Irrationally yours,

Posted by: David P. Powell | Dec 7, 2004 12:13:36 AM

If your debate is anything like the one out here, there is plenty of irrationality on both sides.

The Property Rights crowd screams every time someone proposes to set up a Historic Commission, even if it only has an advisory function. They then proceed to tell everyone that the commission will take away their right to paint their house or fix their roof.

On the other hand, as mentioned in this forum, not every old building is worth preserving. The arguments can be just as strident in the other direction.

Municipalities and/or private groups can preserve buildings by buying them. The state has historic preservation grant money set aside for that purpose. The application process is similar to Green Acres funding.

You can also ask for or purchase a historic preservation easement on the exterior or facade of a building, allowing the owner to refit the interior but leaving the outside as is.

Etc etc. There are alternatives. I am not familiar enough with this case to know what might have applied.

Posted by: The Prop | Dec 7, 2004 9:36:55 AM

What is especially odd here is the sequence of events leading up to now. Does anyone know if Plofker's strange subdivision plan has approval by the town? How did that happen? 6'-0" front yard setbacks can't be permissable as-of-right. Neither can rear yards facing Watchung. Who granted him a variance-- and why?

Posted by: Richard Goldberg | Dec 7, 2004 2:21:09 PM

Well that was record time! Political loss to conspiracy in 24 hours!

Posted by: Right of Center | Dec 7, 2004 2:24:12 PM

Thank goodness that eyesore is coming down. Too bad for Mr. Schwartz - who, I dare wager, was more interested in the net effect on his own property values rather than preservation of a derelict inn.

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