Morristown house is moving again; planning board debates ‘iconic’ triangle building

Commercial house at 10 DeHart St. would be replaced by bowling nightclub if the town approves a liquor license transfer sought by the Walsh family. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Commercial house at 10 DeHart St. would be replaced by bowling nightclub if the town approves a liquor license transfer sought by the Walsh family. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Commercial house at 10 DeHart St. would be replaced by bowling nightclub if the town approves a liquor license transfer sought by the Walsh family. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Commercial house at 10 DeHart St. will get a new home–its third location–to make way for a restaurant. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

By Kevin Coughlin

Talk about musical chairs.  The whole house is moving. Again.

A 122-year-old house at 10 DeHart St. will be relocated a couple of blocks away, to make way for a restaurant, an attorney for the restaurant developers told the Morristown Planning Board on Thursday.

This tidbit came late in a three-hour session mostly devoted to debating a sign proposed for the triangular Fox Rothschild law office, set to open next week at Market and Bank streets as a  “Gateway to Morristown.”

Planning Board Members Joe Kane and Debbie Gottsleben compare notes. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Planning Board Members Joe Kane and Debbie Gottsleben compare notes. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

The old house will be moved to Madison Street, near Assumption Church, said attorney Brian Fahey.

Kit Godby’s gonna take it,” he said, referring to Morristown realtor Kathryn “Kit” Godby.  

It will be the third address for the four-bay, gambrel-roofed house, hauled to its present location from Pine Street on a drizzly day in 2002.

“Pretty cool, right?” said Fahey, who represents brothers David and Billy Walsh.  

They secured approval last year to expand the liquor license from the family’s Tashmoo Restaurant & Bar to the adjacent property at 10 DeHart, where the new restaurant is planned.

Details about when, and where on Madison Street, the house will be moved, and how it will be used, were not disclosed at the meeting.

David and Billy Walsh at the Morristown planning board, Feb. 23, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
David and Billy Walsh at the Morristown planning board, Feb. 23, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

The structure was a private residence from 1895 until after World War II. Later, several businesses were tenants.

Fifteen years ago, it was bought for $1 by Peter Kaphouris, owner of the London World Connection hair salon, and moved from Pine Street to make room for an expansion by the Mayo Performing Arts Center, then known as the Community Theatre.

The house has sat vacant on DeHart Street since a deli closed some time back.

HOODS AND ‘PIGSTIES’

Fahey and restaurant planner John Lyons presented revised plans on Thursday meant to quell neighbors’ concerns about noise and odors from the restaurant. 

External heating and cooling machinery will be moved, and shielded, to minimize noise, and an exhaust hood will be “94 percent efficient” in filtering kitchen smells, Lyons said.  Cupolas from earlier plans also are gone, to avoid exceeding building height restrictions.

Planning Board Member Dick Tighe, Mayor Tim Dougherty and board Attorney John Inglesino, Feb. 23, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Planning Board Member Dick Tighe, Mayor Tim Dougherty and board Attorney John Inglesino, Feb. 23, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Board member Dick Tighe pressed the Walshes about trash dumpsters.  Earlier in the day, he ventured behind Tashmoo to find “a pig sty” —   six dumpsters that “stunk.” 

“I hope you’re going to do a better job” when the new place generates even more trash, Tighe said. “There are a lot of open questions with this.”

All the dumpsters will be enclosed, David Walsh said. Neighbors asked the board to require the owners to honor a trash pickup schedule that does not rouse them from sleep. Garbage trucks now come to Tashmoo as early as 4 am, they said.

When the hearing continues on March 23, 2017, Fahey will argue that proximity to three parking facilities should make up for the absence of on-site parking. Zoning regulations call for about 200 spaces at the new restaurant.

Artist's rendition of sign proposed for Morristown's new triangle building.
Artist’s rendition of sign proposed for Morristown’s new triangle building.

TRIANGULATION

In the age of GPS navigation, are signs on buildings necessary?

The board batted around that question as Fox Rothschild attorneys sought a variance to allow the law firm’s name in big letters atop the building, on Market Street facing Maple Avenue.

Town Planner Phil Abramson fields question from resident Tim Reuther, Feb. 23, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Town Planner Phil Abramson fields question from resident Tim Reuther, Feb. 23, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“Do you think someone coming from New York would look up five stories for a sign 28 feet long?” asked Mayor Tim Dougherty, who described the triangle-shaped office as “iconic.”

That word popped up so often that board Attorney John Inglesino  deadpanned: “Iconic is in the eye of the beholder.”  

The sign would exceed the town’s size limits significantly, setting a precedent that worried some board members.

“Signs are advertising, and this is advertising,” said member Joe Kane.

Planning Board Attorney John Inglesino and Board Chairman Joe Stanley, Feb. 23, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Planning Board Attorney John Inglesino and Board Chairman Joe Stanley, Feb. 23, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

However, the officials emphasized they are pleased to welcome the national firm to town. About 100 attorneys are scheduled to start setting up their offices over the weekend, said Fox Rothschild partner Deirdre Moore.

Attorney Michael Lavigne, representing the firm, agreed to sit with town Planner Phil Abramson to scale down the signage. The matter returns to the board on March 23.

It chewed up so much time that the board never got around to hearing more testimony about a Cambria Hotel proposed for Market Street. Board Chairman Joe Stanley scheduled a special meeting for March 16.

Artist's conception of Mt. Kemble Avenue view of Fox Rothschild triangle office. Photo courtesy of Dean Marchetto
Artist’s conception of Mt. Kemble Avenue view of Fox Rothschild triangle office. Image courtesy of Dean Marchetto
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8 COMMENTS

  1. Compared to the signs at HQ Plaza and the hospital, what is proposed here seems almost subdued, although it could easily be half the size and still be visible, The hospital even labels its garages, They advertise various individual donors, who I’m sure would not wish to gaze at other people’s name from the windows of their homes.s

  2. Many of these zoning laws and regulations appear to be just suggestions. Apply for a variance, make a good case and hopefully get your change implemented. It’s difficult for the average working stiff to make all the various board meetings to provide input as to why one is against a particular change. It almost seems that the rules are stacked in the developers favor.

  3. I LIVE ON MAPLE AVE AND ALTHOUGH I MAY MISS THE VIEW DOWN MAPLE AVE WHERE I USED TO BE ABLE TO SEE THE “ROLLING COASTER” ANN STREET, THE OVERALL SYMMETRY OF THE BUILDING AND ITS ALMOST FRANK-LOYD-WRIGHT-LIKE DESIGN IS NOT AT ALL OFFENSIVE.
    JUST TODAY WHILE WALKING IN THE AREA I FELT THAT THE BUILDING IS CERTAINLY AN IMPROVEMENT TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD. SURE THERE WILL BE GROWING PAINS, BUT I THINK WE WILL BE ABLE TO RISE TO THE CHALLENGE. AS WITH SO MANY CITIES, DEVELOPMENT IS A CHALLENGING BALANCE OF LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE WHILE BEING RESPONSIVE TO THE PAST AND PRESENT.
    I BELIEVE WE WILL ALL EVOLVE WITH THIS BUILDING AND THE LOCATION. I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD ADAPT TO THE RISE OF ALL THAT REPLACED THE EPSTEIN DEPARTMENT STORE, BUT I HAVE TO ADMIT THAT IT HAS ADDED A MUCH NEEDED VIBRANCY TO THE TOWN. I HOPE THAT THIS BUILDING’S PRESENCE WILL PROMPT THE FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF THE SURROUNDING STRUCTURES. AS I SAID, THE VIEW OF THE BUILDING, AS I WALKED NORTH ON MT. KIMBLE TOWARD IT TODAY, WAS APPEALING AND I LOOK FORWARD TO ITS BECOMING AN ASSET TO MORRISTOWN. IT DOES HAVE A WELCOMING APPEARANCE DRAWING ONE INTO THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN AND THE GREEN.

  4. How to make a growing number of streets in over-developed Morristown even more ugly?….Ignore the town’s size limits, allow the oversized building to put up what is in reality a 28 foot long “billboard” placed 5 stories high?. ……The office building is such an ICONIC building said the many folks at the meeting, including the mayor, all of whom seem to have incorrectly used the word, iconic.
    Iconic is often used to describe something or someone that is considered symbolic of something else, like spirituality, virtue, or evil and corruption. The iconic Statue of Liberty is a symbol of freedom. A gun is considered an iconic symbol of violence.” The flatiron building, in NYC has been called “one of the world’s most iconic skyscrapers and a quintessential symbol of New York City.” ….. So what’s iconic and symbolic about this office building? Its inappropriate Morristown size limits? Its triangular shape? Its total lack of parking spaces?…Maybe,the town’s willingness to welcome such a giant building? It’s been referred to as the “Gateway to Morristown.” Sad to read that some folks actually think such a building will be a great symbol of Morristown and will impress those entering our town or even most of the residents who live here.

    ….and who needs on-site parking anyway?

  5. I don’t see a problem with having a sign. It shouldn’t be too big, but it is their business and building and they should be able to have a sign that advertises them. The building will still be ‘Iconic’!

    Also, compared to what they do with Cavanaugh, the new place on DeHart is getting away with murder! Allow both places, or deny both…

    Cambria Hotel should definitely be approved. Market Street will be one of the greater streets in Morristown to shop, dine, eat and stay

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