By Elaine Van Develde
Fair Haven’s reorganization day may have come and gone, but a few appointments had yet to be made.
So, that business was completed at the Jan. 29 meeting with an appointment to the borough Planning Board, Memorial Park Advisory Committee and Historic Preservation Committee.
Alfred Conhagen III — who Mayor Ben Lucarelli said is well-known in the area, has a professional background in real estate and has lived in the borough for more than a decade — was appointed as the Planning Board’s alternate #2 member.
Carolyn Ferguson, a member of the Fair Haven Business Association who handles a lot of the group’s public relations and event coordination, has been appointed to the Memorial Park Advisory Committee.
What’s that? According to the mayor, the group of roughly 15 people acts as a collective “gate-keeper to the park” at the corner of River and Fair Haven roads.
The park houses both the war and 9/11 memorials. Veterans and Memorial Day commemorative events are held at the park in keeping with its purpose.
The borough’s annual Christmas tree and Hanukkah menorah lightings are also held there.
“This group keeps all activities appropriate to the park’s original intent and they handle anything else in an advisory capacity concerning its function,” Lucarelli said. “For instance, there have been people who have wanted to have weddings there. They advised that it would not be appropriate, considering the solemnity of the purpose as a memorial park.”
Concerning Ferguson’s appointment, considering the fact that the park borders on the borough’s business district, “we wanted to have a member of the business association on the committee. Carolyn volunteered.”
An appointment, or shared responsibilities of two, was, in effect, made to the Historic Preservation Commission as well.
“I hadn’t realized that Councilwoman Susan Sorensen was the council liaison to the commission when we decided to appoint (the newest) Councilwoman Aimee Humphreys,” the mayor said. “So we’ve left it up to the two of them to toss a coin and work it out between the two of them. They’ll decide which one or both, in a sharing capacity, will do the job.”
The Historic Preservation Commission is what Lucarelli referred to as a “toothless” advisory group.
That means that the members can only advise what may or may not be aesthetically suitable for the area concerning development and/or rehab consistent with the historic character of what has been deemed a historic district in the borough — the area off River Road to the river from Fair Haven Road to Gillespie Avenue.
When applications and/or permits for that area hit borough hall or zoning or planning board, the applicant seeks out the commission’s opinion and unofficial approval and advice on what “fits in.”
There was a major rift dating back more than 10 years ago over the constitutionality of a historic preservation ordinance. Such an ordinance would have governed how and what history-appropriate changes could be made to homes in the district on private property.
It was nixed and the advisory commission took hold as a compromise.