FAIR HAVEN: PLAN FOR CHURCH SITE WINS OK

fh church 100809 2The Episcopal Diocese plans to repurpose the windows of the church, which was built by volunteers in 1967. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

fh-churchA plan to demolish Fair Haven’s Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion won unanimous planning board approval Wednesday night.

The authorization, with no objections from the audience of about 10 onlookers, clears Kolarsick Builders of Rumson to raze the 48-year-old River Road church and two other structures and replace them with three homes.

“We understand it’s a landmark property,” said company principal Noah Kolarsick, who grew up in a house with a view of the church and still lives in town. But the church is “severely deteriorated,” and because it has no on-site parking, is impractical for use as a house of worship, he told redbankgreen Thursday.

fh kolarsick plan 031215The site plan for the proposed homes, with River Road at left and Church Street below. (Click to enlarge.)

No variances were required for the Kolarsick plan, which would take down the church, a former nursery school building and a Cape Cod used as the church vestry. All three buildings have remained unused since the church congregation held its final mass there in October, 2009.

A respresentative of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey told the board that the ashes of 45 deceased parishoners interred in the church’s memorial garden were relocated to a portion of the cemetery at All Saints Episcopal Church in the Navesink section of Middletown in April, 2014. The diocese plans to salvage the stained glass windows of the church for use elsewhere, she said.

Kolarsick said that despite their impressiveness, the exposed trusses inside the church have no real value and would be prohibitively expensive to salvage because a crane would be needed to remove them from the half-acre lot.

The proposal calls for reducing the amount of impervious coverage on the site, said Kolarsick. Poor drainage there has contributed to the deterioration of the church, he said.

When finished, the new project “won’t feel all that different, but of course, it won’t have a steeple anymore,” he said.