Morristown’s house with nine lives has used up another one.
A deadlocked planning board on Thursday temporarily blocked the Walsh family from demolishing a three-story house to make way for a restaurant at 10 DeHart St.
Last month the demolition appeared to be a mere formality. Attempts to find a taker for the 122-year-old, gambrel-roofed structure had fallen through, and the board voted 5-3 to authorize attorneys to prepare a resolution lifting the Walshes’ requirement to move the house.
But several board members were absent for Thursday’s vote on that resolution and the 3-3 result meant that the condition remains in place.
Members Joe Kane, David Gilliham and Dick Tighe voted to keep the requirement; board Chairman Joe Stanley, Councilman Stefan Armington and Susan Glover supported waiving it to allow demolition.
Mayor Tim Dougherty and fellow board member Tim Murphy arrived after the vote (Murphy noted that meetings now start a half hour earlier than they did last year); members Mark Gandy and Debra Gottsleben were absent.
Moving the house was among the board’s conditions when it approved the restaurant plans last February. David Walsh’s attorney had suggested the move.
Kane indicated on Thursday he might not have supported the restaurant if he knew the house was destined for demolition.
“We’d like to see more effort made for moving the house and saving it,” Tighe added on Friday. “It’s somewhat historic. It’s from a period in town that was interesting. It already was moved once. It seems a shame to go through all that to have it torn down.”
The house was moved from Pine Street in 2002.
Stanley saw things differently. “It’s basically just a shell of a building,” the board chairman said.
“They have a right under normal zoning to demolish the building,” said Armington. “There was a good faith effort to move the building. I don’t think it’s reasonable to say the entire project is null and void if they don’t move it.”
David Walsh could not be reached for comment on Friday. According to Stanley, Walsh told the board he intends to file an amendment to the original site plan, allowing demolition.
“We don’t have to re-hear the whole application. But they must simply give justification why that condition [to move the house] should be stricken,” Stanley said.
Over the years, the structure has filled many roles: Private residence, office building, salon, deli.
Morristown realtor Kathryn “Kit” Godby obtained approvals last year to move the house to nearby Catherine Lane and convert it to apartments. But she concluded zoning requirements made the project infeasible, and she backed out.
A woman in the audience Thursday voiced interest in moving the house to Maple Avenue. Does this building have one more life?