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Old Mill Inn Could be Rehabbed

An architect inquired about Hatboro's historic designations related to a potential restoration of the Old Mill Inn.

The new owner of the Old Mill Inn is reportedly looking to rehab the property. Credit: Theresa Katalinas
The new owner of the Old Mill Inn is reportedly looking to rehab the property. Credit: Theresa Katalinas
Saying "we're going to restore it," a Willow Grove architect confirmed that the Old Mill Inn may see a new life.

Arthur Hall Adams of Arthur Hall Adams and Company, told Patch Tuesday morning that his company is "actively pursuing the idea" of rehabilitating the nearly 300-year-old building. 

"We’re going to restore it," Adams said. "There’s still bits and pieces of it inside the building from when it was originally built ... You can actually see construction leftover from when it was used as a mill."

Adams said he has "no idea" of the cost associated with undertaking the restoration.

"That’s part of what we’re doing right now," he said. 

When reached Tuesday, Linda Clauser of Aspen Mill LLC, whose company purchased the Old Mill Inn said, "I really don’t have any comment at this point."

Hatboro officials were made aware of the new owners' intention to restore the property when Adams sent a letter inquiring about local ordinances related to rehabbing the former grist mill and more recently, shuttered restaurant.

Hatboro does not have an ordinance in place to designate certain properties as historic. But, officials may consider implementing zoning specific to historic preservation after hearing from Adams.

Borough solicitor Christen Pionzio said during Monday night's council meeting that as the Millbrook Society compiles a list of historic properties, the governing body could enact an ordinance to help further rehabilitation of the Old Mill Inn, which was purchased by the owner of properties at 332 S. York Road in August.  

"Once we get an ordinance in place we can always add properties," Pionzio said, noting that the governing body could "get something in place that would assist the Old Mill."

Council President John Zygmont asked what historic designation means and what the borough’s responsibilities are when it designates properties as such.

"I don’t know what the benefit is for the applicant," Pionzio said, adding that zoning ordinances often offer "benefits to the property owner" in the way of incentives to renovate such as density bonuses, tax credits and the like.

The council took no action on Monday. Pionzio said she'd be in touch with the architect to find out more specifics of the rehabilitation project and what was requested of the borough.

al October 15, 2013 at 09:41 AM
hmmmm...so the "zygmont led council"are open to developement of historic property in the boro.i'm curious to hear the people who constantly look to jump all over the current council.
Terri October 15, 2013 at 10:37 AM
I think this is awesome news. I really hope Hatboro takes the preservation of its rich history more seriously. From what I have been reading regarding the vision of the candidates it sounds like our town is in heading in the right direction. Let's just hope everything sticks to keeping their promises. I know revitalization and preservation doesn't happen overnight however if we keep taking these steps we will be on the path to a bright future.
Jolene October 15, 2013 at 10:37 AM
I would say that if Z and the council still don't have ordinances in place to protect/develop historic properties after all the rumpus about superwawa, then they've missed the boat (I'm trying to be niice here) and this letter that suddenly appears seems peculiarly "timely" and "convenient" for Z to play on the emotions of residents who truly care -- in advance on an election.
James Kephart Jr. October 15, 2013 at 10:47 AM
Too funny! Pionzio said, noting that the governing body could "get something in place that would assist the Old Mill." Assist them? Really? "officials may consider implementing zoning specific to historic preservation" and that is going to help the new owner. Can't wait to see what they come up with to "assist".
Tori October 15, 2013 at 11:13 AM
Note to Z and company: You are a day late and a dollar short! Now that it is election time preservation becomes a concern for you? Your transparency is quite apparent on this one.
Theresa Katalinas (Editor) October 15, 2013 at 11:31 AM
I reached out to John Zygmont last night about the possibility of developing a historic preservation ordinance. Here is his response, which he sent after the story was posted: "The process of developing a historical preservation ordinance has been in the Zoning and Historic Preservation Committee for a while. It is currently at the Zoning Subcommittee level. My understanding is that they are on hold with acting on it while awaiting the list of properties that would be considered in developing the ordinance. Bill Tompkins would need to confirm this. Council has been looking for the Zoning Committee to report back with a proposed ordinance for consideration. There is not a Historic Preservation Ordinance on the books at the current time. We understand the importance of having such an Ordinance, but need information to make an informed decision. In addition to the list of properties to consider in such an ordinance, it's important that we also (Council and the public) understand what the Borough's responsibilities would be under such an ordinance. That is why I asked the solicitor to brief all of Council and the audience on what the Borough's responsibilities might be under such and ordinance. I further added, the question that "If we were currently to declare this a Historic Property what would the benefit be to the property owner?" If we have no ordinance, does that mean that there is no benefit to the declaration. Further, in that case, would it be more beneficial to get some other entity, (i.e., the state or federal government), to certify the property while we work through things at the borough level for the property. Of course the Borough would benefit from the restoration of the Old Mill, we need to find the right avenues to help make it happen and to make sure that the project accomplishes the goals of historic preservation."
Peter W. Brunner October 15, 2013 at 12:52 PM
After the approval of the PHMC as to the District itself, Act 167 can be implemented. Local ordinances can be used if they are equal to or stronger than Act 167. PHMC will not approve anything lesser. Sample ordinances can be found in use from surrounding Townships. The Conservancy has a list of all Districts in both Bucks and now Montgomery Counties. Historic distracting is an "overlay" to existing zoning. All the above can be found including samples and procedures to impalement via the internet through the PHMC.
Peter W. Brunner October 15, 2013 at 01:28 PM
Just a thought here: If more information on this subject is needed or questions need to be asked as to implementation I would suggest a public meeting. A representative of the PHMC can be found at Graeme Park and the Bucks County Heritage Conservancy in Doylestown that now represents both Bucks and Montgomery Counties could be asked to attend. This is a subject that they are very well versed in. Hatbore may consider two Districts each falling under separate criteria.
Mary Cummings October 15, 2013 at 08:33 PM
Folks, the Millbrook society has been working closely with the PHMC and its representatives to create an "Historic District" in Hatboro. Last winter, the PHMC held a presentation for Millbrook and the HRA to outline the procedures for how this is to be done. The first and most daunting task is to survey all the properties to determine their historic value. Members of Millbrook alongside a few dedicated HRA members have been doing this very detailed work. The goal is to designate the Historic District and to help create that overlay. Certain buildings can be deemed historic and have certain restrictions applied to them, but that is also a daunting task. Since Wawa threatened to remove some of the last historic buildings in town, the residents of this town and its historical society have been working to preserve them. It's nice to see council jumping on board>?????
Peter W. Brunner October 15, 2013 at 09:53 PM
Don't lose sight of the forest for all the trees. Start small and with that that you know the most about. The center of town is now a hodgepodge spanning three centuries and the associated houses though nice and old need to fit a criteria that the PHMC can consider. Where to start and where to end can take forever. But, the Mill and associated buildings next to it already come with providence, histories well recorded and the interest is there now. There's no reason why Hatboro can't have two or three Historic Districts.
Toni Kistner October 15, 2013 at 10:36 PM
We need a buyer who will restore and protect the Miller House next to Miller Meadow..it is down to around $400k now, last I heard. Telll your friends, before a developer scoops it up!!
Jolene October 16, 2013 at 07:36 PM
I'm afraid that this excitement about the Mill, which even Wawa was willing to save, will draw attention away from the 2 properties that are really at risk -- the Mill house and the White Billet. What's the news on that?
Rick Martin October 18, 2013 at 10:11 AM
Hatboro will never have an Historic District, why after all these years of tearing down its older buildings should it be interested in preserving history all of a sudden. When & If Burdicks ever closes, it will be the last of the old Hatboro. Sad ? Yes but its 2013 and time to look to future
Rick Martin October 18, 2013 at 10:35 AM
Preserving history takes lots of money. Miller house is down to 400,000 for a reason, anybody that really knows that property knows what it will take to preserve. Lets get real for 1 minute, Hatboro is fixing a clock in a historic building yet build rental units just feet away from the Loller Building and the Clock. Someone needs to step up and decide what Hatboro really needs the most. History or Future, this little 1 square mile is out of room for both. History has already been written, it is not going anywhere.

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