Groves Mansion Update

Groves Mansion Status (411 Lippincott) Part I

Groves Mansion Mar 2021-Aug 2022

Briefly, the Mansion is in peril of demolition. The Riverton Planning Board bravely voted to deny the developer’s application for a demolition permit. (The fact that it is in the local historic district means that Riverton’s demolition ordinance applies.)

The developer has now sued the Borough and the Planning Board in Superior Court, demanding (a) to be allowed to demolish it, (b) to invalidate Riverton’s demolition ordinance so that now ALL of Riverton’s historic buildings would lose their protection, and (c) to order Riverton to pay all the developer’s professional costs (attorneys, engineers, etc.) The Borough’s response to that lawsuit is due, we believe, in the week of 9/19, and we’ll see where it goes from there.

The developer knew the home was a protected historic structure when he bought it but pressed the Borough to be allowed to demolish it anyway. That forced the Borough to pay its lawyer with taxpayer money for multiple lengthy hearings. Now the developer’s appeal lawsuit will require more public funds to defend. But what’s the alternative?

We are historic Riverton. We strive to defend, protect, and preserve history.

Groves Mansion Status (411 Lippincott) Part II

The developer has allowed the Mansion to become shabbier and a significant section of the yard to become a veritable jungle. On August 16th, an overflow crowd of Rivertonians, including many HSR members (thank you all!), packed the regular Borough Council meeting. Many spoke eloquently to show their concerns that the Borough should enforce the multiple existing housing ordinances (and statewide laws) on the books that require that the Mansion be maintained so that it doesn’t look abandoned even if it sits there empty.

The Borough Solicitor cautioned everyone that because of the demolition lawsuit, it would be hard for the public officials to say anything about the property (even though the case and enforcement of codes are unrelated issues). The public in attendance and the public officials alike seemed to be frustrated by that inability to have any meaningful communication. No indication from the Borough has been forthcoming that this big turnout has resulted in any enforcement action by the Borough.

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John McCormick

Former teacher at Riverton School, amateur historian, Historical Society of Riverton Board Member, website and newsletter editor

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