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'Bayonne Box' Homes Capture Tension Between Development, Preservation

JERSEY CITY (CBSNewYork) -- A fight between New Jersey housing developers and supporters of historic preservation is heating up as Victorian homes from the 1800s are being replaced by the spread of so-called "Bayonne Box" homes.

"Where these two houses now stand used to be a Grand Victorian with a driveway that was purchase a year and a half ago for over $800,000," Paul Amatuzzo, of the Pershing Field Neighborhood Association, told CBS2's Meg Baker. "It was pushed over immediately, and now we have these two in fill houses here that completely take away from the street that we're on if you see it in context."

Now, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop has put a moratorium on demolitions until the city council can vote on a new ordinance governing tearing down old homes.

"The goal is really kind of recognizing the city's history and some of the nicer buildings there. Not every building needs to be protected, but there are some that should," he said.

"The new ordinance basically is designed so that each (developer) that applies for a demonlition permit will go before the Historic Preservation office," said Amatuzzo. "Then each house would get a fair assessment on its historic value, architectural style, it's contributing aesthetics to the neighborhood, and if it ties to any historic event or family or person."

A group of developers is fighting back with a lawsuit.

Jorge Cruz, of JC Urban Investments, said the moratorium on building hurts the economic development of Jersey City.

"It affects all trades, from subcontractors, to material suppliers, and to even homeowners, and real estate agents -- so it affects an entire industry," he said.

Cruz said the layout of an older home may be awkward to change, so he prefers to start fresh.

The city council will vote on the ordinance at a meeting on April 25.

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