Village Center Listing on the National and State Historic Registers FAQ

What is this FAQ all about?

In 2019, the Maplewood Historic Commission (MHPC) received a grant to fund the preparation of an draft nomination to have the Maplewood Commercial Historic District listed on the National and New Jersey Registers of Historic Places. This builds upon an intensive-level architectural survey of the Maplewood Village Center that was performed under the direction of the MHPC in 2012.

Does listing on the State and National Registers restrict the rights of private property owners?

Listing on the New Jersey and National Registers does not place restrictions on private property owner rights. Within the limits of local municipal zoning laws, private property owners can do anything they wish with their property, provided no federal or state license, permit, or funding is involved. See also The Difference Between National, State and Local Registries.

What public meetings will discuss the nomination and process?

Besides the open public meetings that the Historic Preservation Commission holds monthly, there are two, key meetings in March 2020 regarding the nomination:

    • CANCELLED. THIS EVENT WILL BE RESCHEDULED FOR A FUTURE DATE. On March 18, 2020 at 7pm at the Maplewood Municipal Building, representatives from the State Historic Preservation Office and Connolly & Hickey Historical Architects (the firm that wrote the application) will give a presentation to residents about the process and significance of being listed on the Registers.
    • CANCELLED. THIS EVENT WILL BE RESCHEDULED FOR A FUTURE DATE. On March 26, 2020 at the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, Public Meeting Room, first floor at 401 E. State Street, Trenton, NJ 08625 the nomination will be considered for inclusion on the registers. The agenda and draft nomination are available on the NJ Historic Preservation Office website.

What are the borders of the proposed Historic District?

This is best visualized in a map from the draft nomination:

Why does the MHPC want to list the Village Center on the Registers?

The Township of Maplewood has a rich history and an abundance of historic buildings that reflect its more than two centuries of existence. The overriding goal of the MHPC is to foster ongoing appreciation, preservation, protection and enhancement of the historic buildings, structures and character of Maplewood. The Village Center is a social and commercial hub, that reflects the development of the town as it grew from a small, rural community to a vibrant, railroad suburb.

Listing on the Registers provides recognition of our community’s historic importance, makes private property owners eligible for certain tax credits (see below for more information on
tax credits).. The MHPC feels that the listings will be positive for residents, private property owners and the Township.

What is the National Register?

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the nation’s historic resources worthy of preservation. The first historical registry was established by Congress in 1935 through the passing of the Historic Sites Act. This act directed the Secretary of the Interior to designate properties of national importance as National Historic Landmarks. The 1966 National Historic Preservation Act (80 Stat. 915, as amended) established a National Register of Historic Places to include significant districts, sites, structures, buildings, and objects of local, state, and national interest. The 1966 act instructed the governor of each state to appoint a State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) to work in partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Register Office. For New Jersey, the SHPO is the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection. The Historic Preservation Office

What is the New Jersey Register?

The New Jersey Register of Historic Places is the official list of New Jersey’s historic resources of local, state, and national interest. Created by the New Jersey Register of Historic Places Act of 1970 (N.J.S.A. 13:1B-15.128 et seq.), the New Jersey Register is closely modeled after the National Register Program. Both Registers have the same criteria for eligibility, nomination form, and review process. Virtually every municipality in New Jersey has properties significant in architecture, history, archaeology, engineering and/or culture that are eligible for the New Jersey and National Registers.

What benefits does inclusion on the New Jersey & National Registers offer?

The New Jersey and National Registers provide a degree of review and protection from public encroachment. Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended, provides for review of any federally licensed, financed or assisted undertaking for properties listed on, or eligible for listing on, the National Register. The New Jersey Register law requires review of any state, county or municipal undertaking involving properties listed on the New Jersey Register. These reviews are designed to prevent destruction or damage of historic resources by public agencies.

Inclusion on the National Register enables the owner of a property to take advantage of several financial benefits. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 permits owners and some lessees of historic buildings to take a 20% income tax credit on the cost of rehabilitating such buildings for industrial, commercial or rental residential purposes. The rehabilitated building must be a certified historic structure that is subject to depreciation, and the rehabilitation must be certified as meeting standards established by the National Park Service. Furthermore, Historic Preservation Bond Fund matching grants and low interest loans for rehabilitation and restoration are available to state, county and municipal agencies and non-profit organizations with properties listed on the New Jersey Register.

Property owners and county and local officials are notified and given an opportunity to comment, and a public meeting is held for historic districts. Applications are then presented to the New Jersey State Review Board for Historic Sites, which is made up of professionals in the fields of architecture, history, architectural history, and archaeology. If passed by the State Review Board, the application is prepared for the SHPO’s signature. Once signed by the SHPO, the property is listed on the New Jersey Register and simultaneously recommended for the National Register. The nomination is then sent to Washington for consideration for the National Register

What if an owner objects to a property being listed?

Listing on the New Jersey and National Registers does not place restrictions on private property owner rights. Within the limits of local municipal zoning laws, private property owners can do anything they wish with their property, provided no federal or state license, permit, or funding is involved.

If a private property owner (or a majority of private property owners in a historic district) objects to National Register listing by notarized letter to the SHPO, the nomination is sent to the National Register Office for a Determination of Eligibility, but the property is not listed on the National Register. A Determination of Eligibility provides for review of federally sponsored encroachments as detailed previously, but tax benefits will not apply unless the property is actually listed on the National Register.

If a private property owner (or a majority of owners in a historic district) objects to New Jersey Register listing by notarized letter to the SHPO, the property may still be listed on the New Jersey Register. However, the owner’s objections will be given thorough consideration by the SHPO before making any decision.

Are there any other ways to protect historic buildings in New Jersey?

In addition to inclusion on the New Jersey and National Registers, preservation of New Jersey’s historic properties may be accomplished through local historic preservation ordinances. Over 90 municipalities have enacted some kind of local historic preservation ordinance. These ordinances vary from municipality to municipality. Some ordinances provide strong regulatory provisions including architectural review of alterations, demolition, and new construction within the designated historic areas. Locally designated historic districts may be certified by the Secretary of the Interior for federal tax advantages.

Local landmarks and historic district regulations that may affect private property owner actions are completely separate from New Jersey and National Register regulations. The New Jersey and National Registers provide a degree of review and protection from public actions only.

What are other resources I can look at to learn more?