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Marylawn Application Deemed Incomplete, Demolition Permit Delayed

The issue will be on the agenda for Feb. 4

The South Orange Planning Board found the demolition permit submitted on behalf of the Convent Station-based Sisters of Christian Charity of Saint Elizabeth incomplete, delaying any decision on the property until at least February.

The Planning Board members voted unanimously that the application was incomplete at a Monday night meeting that was standing-room only. The Sisters of Christian Charity of Saint Elizabeth, and their representatives, are expected to return next month to pursue the permit.

The former Graves family estate, now the convent on the Marylawn School of the Oranges property, is located at 425 Scotland Road. According to Carlotta Budd, spokeswoman for the Sisters of Christian Charity of Saint Elizabeth, the permit sought is "strictly for demolition." The permit details the work as, "demolish the existing three story residence, backfill, re-grading, seed and hay site."

Budd said the Sisters of Christian Charity of Saint Elizabeth do not yet know what will happen to the property. However, the power has been disconnected and, said Budd, the property is ready to be demolished.

The Planning Board members, however, deemed the application incomplete, as it was necessary missing title documentation, including an affidavit of title.

Budd noted that her application included a letter of opinion from an attorney, declaring the title clear. Planning Board member Janine Bauer replied that she would look skeptically at such a letter presented by the applicant's own counsel.

Budd further argued that the property should not be considered part of the historic zone codified in December, since her application was submitted before that time.

The Planning Board declined to discuss that point, noting that Budd needed to submit a complete application before discussion of the next step.

Nearly 100 residents attended the meeting. Many were neighbors of the property who asked if they would be notified again of the application before the February meeting.

Others were members of the Montrose Park Historic District Association, who oppose the demolition. Their position, outlined in several emails, follows:

We are asking for your support to help us stop the demolition of the Graves Mansion. Not only is the mansion stunning inside, but the property is zoned for single family use. Marylawn is taking steps to remove the historic home and pave the way for a developer to build a multi-unit apartment building. In order to accommodate their wish to sell the property to a developer, the house must be torn down.

In addition to defacing the entrance to our historic district, a 100+ unit building will have a severe negative impact on traffic, tax our resources and be a major blight on our landscape. No one from the Sisters of St. Elizabeth's is a resident of Montrose Park or even South Orange.

The home was once the Graves family estate. The house and family are decribed here and here. 

, citing financial woes.

The next meeting of the Planning Board is Feb. 4, 2012, 7:30 p.m.

John R. Overall January 08, 2013 at 05:11 AM
It seems indicative of the "complete indifference" of St. Elizabeth and Ms Budd that with over 100 people there to protest the demolition of the house, she couldn't have cared less, saying that the utilities had been disconnected, and they were anxious to demolish it. They have never considered any other course than having 100 apartments built, only offering it for sale to developers, and ignoring attempts to find another solution in meetings with MPHDA (Montrose). I understand that the Sisters are a "charitable" organization, and for many years, attempted to run a high quality academy. But they're spending $100,000 of their own needed money in a hell bent attempt to destroy something of value to the neighborhood. There's a mistaken idea that some developer investing $3,000,000 and a lot of legal work in rezoning would care if there's a house to bulldoze, and what if no one comes up with a deal they want? We're left with a blighted blank lot.
Merle Benny January 08, 2013 at 01:47 PM
I am strongly opposed to the demolition but still respect the sisters, let's call them by the right name: Sister of Charity (of Saint Elizabeth).
Chris Hildebrand January 08, 2013 at 02:28 PM
The gifts of the Graves Family are being abused. Henry Graves, Jr. the brother of Edward Graves, gave his Adirondack great camp, Eagle Island, to the Girl Scouts of the Oranges and Maplewood in 1937. It was run by the scouts as a very popular camp for 70 years, always honoring the gift that was given in memory of two of the Graves sons, Henry III and George C. so that children would always enjoy this historic and beautiful island. The island camp is a National Historic Landmark. Now the Girl Scout Heart of NJ Council is attempting to sell it for $3.75 million, and there is an active organization of Friends of Eagle Island that is trying to block the sale and have the camp reopened for the purpose it was intended. childebrand@friendsofeagleisland.org . Contact us if you want to help.
JCC January 08, 2013 at 03:51 PM
I has been my experience in South Orange that the public and community do not impact decisions. Once decisions are made by board officials, whichever board they belong to, there is not much the community can do to reverse it. It is a scary state of affairs when the town officials are not interested in hearing from their constituents.
Beth Rubin January 08, 2013 at 10:56 PM
Although I no longer live in NJ, I am interested in the outcome. That greed is the prevailing mindset--in the case of the Graves property aka Marylawn, and Eagle Island Camp (a Graves bequest)--I find extremely disheartening. Sister(s) of "Charity"? Hmmm ...
Alexandra Dorian January 22, 2013 at 12:34 PM
I live in San Jose. I grew up in Maplewood. Religious charities are INFAMOUS for being hoodwinked by developers. I'm quite sure if the Historic Committe could find a matching bid (there's a lot of wealth in SO) they would accept it. Sometimes unfortunately historic value isn't enough, and money talks. Make them an offer.


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