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Historic Fair Lawn Property Considered For Development

A builder is currently in talks with the borough about developing the Vanderbeck House property.

A Wyckoff-based building company has set their eyes on Fair Lawn's Vanderbeck House property as a possible site for development.

Bob Milanese, the owner of Barrister Builders, said the company is currently in the early stages of possibly developing the property. No formal plans have been prepared yet, but they may look to build a new assisted living facility there, he said.

The original house was built in 1754, according to Jane Diepeveen, the borough historian. Another wing was built in 1785, which is the earliest potion of the house remaining today. Another addition was built in the early 20th century.

The Vanderbek House was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in the 1980s, but has recently fallen into partial disrepair. The site also borders the Naugle House property, which the borough purchased in 2011 with plans for renovations. That building's windows are currently still boarded up.

H. Michael Gelfand, a Fair Lawn native and history professor at James Madison University, said he was concerned that the Vanderbeck House might be demolished as part of the development.

The house was named among the most endangered historic sites in New Jersey last month by Preservation New Jersey, a group which advocates for maintaining historic sites.

"There are only a small number of these houses that survive," Gelfand said.

Milanese said he was in talks with borough officials and the Historic Preservation Committee to address concerns about protecting the site.

"We are looking at a number of possibilities to save both historic sites," Milanese said.

Mayor John Cosgrove noted that Barrister had previously done work on the Zabriskie House, a historic building in Wyckoff.

Gelfand asked borough officials last week to push for the home to go to a private owner who would keep it as a residence, or for someone who would use it as a medical, law or other office which would preserve the historic architecture.

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Phyllis Johnson June 25, 2013 at 04:13 AM
Looks in pretty good shape to me!
Peggy Norris June 25, 2013 at 11:15 AM
Development of the Vanderbeck house site also threatens the Naugle house (on property Fair Lawn bought with Green Acres money). There is a 40' right-of-way exempt from Green Acres restrictions that provides access from Dunkerhook Road to the Vanderbeck property. It runs within feet of the Naugle house.
Howard Mark June 25, 2013 at 03:16 PM
Their's a state law that says you can't build withen 50 feet from a top of a river bank . You might want to check out the state NJDEP website .
Jack Paul June 25, 2013 at 03:32 PM
What a disgrace that we waste resources on a borough historian. The fate of that house and the Naugle House should be left up to their owners. Its time the Boro auctions off the Naugle property. After all, we have spent more on that property then expected, and more then the council has approved. The bleeding must stop! It people feel we should save these decrepit buildings, they should do so with their money and get their hands out of the pockets of taxpayers.
Harold Vogel June 25, 2013 at 05:15 PM
What house????? It's long gone. There's nothing there but vegetation!! Maybe it's in storage like "Alexander's" Art Work..
Jane Lyle Diepeveen June 26, 2013 at 03:16 AM
Mr. Vogel may be thinking of the c. 1930 wooden house on the Naugle property that was torn down. The Vanderbeck/Vander Plaat House is hidden from the road but very much there. It needs roof repair, but "fallen into disrepair" is an exaggeration. It is still on the State and National Registers of Historic Sites.
Jane Lyle Diepeveen June 26, 2013 at 03:20 AM
The position of Borough Historian is unpaid and takes no Borough resources.
K. June 28, 2013 at 11:21 PM
Built in 1754, that's amazing. Do we have to destroy every piece of history that's left?

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