Anne Ward of Ehrlich, Petriello, Gudin, Plaza & Reed, Attorneys at Law has recently had an article published on the website for the Property Owners Association (POA) of New Jersey entitled "Practicing Before A Historic Preservation Commission." In this in-depth article, Attorney Ward looks into practicing before the History Preservation Commissions that are created and authorized underneath the Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL).
Per her article, these Commissions were created to help with the general belief that we should make an effort to preserve the "visual impact of the past" by retaining the exteriors of historical buildings or buildings located in historic areas. In addition, the Commissions were created with the intention of ensuring that any new development is compatible with the older aesthetics. One example that Attorney Ward brings up is that of a store owner in a historic district who wants to have a bright sign. A lawyer who represents a client in this scenario before the Commission would need to promote cooperation between their client (in this case, the store owner) and the Commission to ensure that the store owner's rights as a private property owner are not overridden, while also working with the Commission to "maintain the tone of the neighborhood"
As Attorney Ward notes in her article, these are the type of issues that a lawyer will face when practicing before a Commission, with hearings that are much less formal and more focusing on collaboration. Such proceedings are determined to be "quasi-judicial," with the Commission's power being largely limited by the MLUL's belief that the Commission should fill an "advisory" role. Therefore, such proceedings are not focused on meeting rules of procedure and are, as Attorney Ward writes, "more collaborative in "nature."
If you would like to learn about practicing before a Historic Preservation Committee, and how this may affect your case, visit the POA website to read her article. You can also read it by clicking here!