Want a house in Morristown? Here’s one for a buck

GOING, GOING... This white house, pictured in October 2012, needs a new home. Again. Or it's curtains for the place. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
GOING, GOING... This white house, pictured in October 2012, needs a new home. Again. Or it's curtains for the place. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Who says houses are expensive in Morristown? 

You can have a three-story cream puff on DeHart Street for $1. 

That’s right.  A hundred pennies. Four quarters. One buck. Cash.

Okay, it’s not move-in condition. Move-out condition is more like it. As in, move the house out of here. Immediately!

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

“If someone were to say they wanted to take the building, it would be free. Well, $1,” Brian Fahey, attorney for brothers David and Billy Walsh, said on Thursday.

If a home cannot be found for this 122-year-old home, and pronto, the Walshes are prepared to knock it down to make way for a restaurant at 10 DeHart.

They thought they had a taker in Morristown realtor Kathryn “Kit” Godby. She planned to move the vacant structure to a nearby lot on Catherine Lane, in the town’s “Little Dublin” neighborhood, and convert the house into three apartments.

Neighbors there were not too happy about that, however. The lot is zoned for single-family homes. After much back and forth, the town zoning board in October gave Godby permission for two apartments instead of three.

But after thinking it over, Godby concluded those economics would not work. Rents would be too high, explained Fahey, who also is representing Godby. Earlier this week, he withdrew her approved application from the zoning board, he said.

Finding a new taker seems “decreasingly unlikely,” said David Walsh.

So a date with the wrecking ball once again looks imminent for a house that already moved once, from Pine Street in 2002. Over the years it has been a private residence, an office building, a salon and a deli.

WHAT DID HE JUST SAY?

On Thursday, it appeared the house also might wreck plans for the restaurant.

When the town planning board approved the project back in February, Fahey told the board that the house would be relocated.

Planning Board members Joe Kane, left, and David Gilliham opposed allowing a simple modification to a restaurant approval, Dec. 7, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Planning Board members Joe Kane, left, and David Gilliham opposed allowing a simple modification to a restaurant approval, Dec. 7, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Did that statement amount to a condition of the approval?  Would failure to move the house nullify permission to build the restaurant?

By a 5-3 vote on Thursday, the planning board decided relocating the building would not be required of the Walshes.

“We never asked for it. They threw it out there,” board Chairman Joe Stanley said. The Walsh team must return next month with paperwork stipulating they are not committed to moving the house.

Planning Board Chairman Joe Stanley, right, with board Attorney John Inglesino, Dec. 7, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Planning Board Chairman Joe Stanley, right, with board Attorney John Inglesino, Dec. 7, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Joe Kane, who voted no along with fellow board members David Gilliham and Dick Tighe, served on the board when the house was moved 15 years ago.

The discrepancy over relocating the house again should have triggered new hearings on the restaurant project, he contended.

“It did not seem like an insignificant change,” Kane said. “I thought it was significant enough for them to come back and ask for an amendment to the site plan.”

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5 COMMENTS

  1. “Finding a new taker seems “decreasingly unlikely,” said David Walsh.” Shouldn’t that be “increasingly unlikely” or “decreasingly likely”?

  2. Hi Carla, try Brian Fahey, attorney for the Walshes. His office is in Far Hills. Please let me know if you reach an agreement!

  3. Short sighted Catherine Lane residents, led by a greedy neighbor have left the Walsh brothers, Kathryn Godby, owner of the Catherine Lane lot, the Planning Board and Board of Adjustment and the historic character of Morristown all suffering as the result of the petty efforts of a few, that distracted the Zoning Boards attention from the overall goals and objectives of our Master Plan and Zoning laws.

    The cost to the Town, Katherine Godby and the Walshs is significant, in both the time and the cost of the fees required to pay for all the required attorneys and experts, who represented the various parties at hearings that went on and on for well over a year, due to the scheduling practices of the Town.. Blocking this project cost far more than it benefited the neighbors concerned, about the loss of their shortcut or need to put shades on their windows, to block the views of potential new tenants and their encroachment of the Godby property lines..

    There is a need to find a way to process applications in a timely fashion in order to prevent the cost of delays, while applications take months and years of hearings to reach their conclusion.

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