CAN LAKEWOOD GET WIDER ROADS? A RESPONSE FOR MAYOR COLES


A question was recently posted on The Lakewood Scoop's "Ask The Mayor" column requesting a new law that all new roads in Lakewood be made wider than the width of current roads.


Mayor Ray Coles did not respond to this specific question, so we will address this topic here so residents and the mayor can understand what the state law is and what Lakewood Township can do to make our roads wider.


Certain standards of new roads, such as cartway width, cul-de-sac length, and basic parking requirements are actually governed by a state law known as the New Jersey Residential Site Improvement Standard (RSIS).


Use of a property (such as, where duplexes, single family houses, schools, and retail and office buildings are permitted to be built), and density and lot size requirements (meaning the minimum size lot required per house) is determined by individual municipalities.


Therefore, the state determines how wide a road needs to be and how long a dead-end road can be before a developer can be required to install a cul-de-sac or provide a secondary access road, and the township committee determines how many houses can be built on those roads.


So, proper building is a shared responsibility. The state does not tell the township how many homes can be built, however the state does limit how wide of a road the township can require a developer to pave.


How wide of a road can the township currently demand and is there anything the township can do to request that the state permit the township to require developers to pave wider roads?


The short answers are, typically 30 feet, and yes!


Neighborhood roads which have up to 1,500 "average daily trips", (which the state defines as "the number of vehicles per day that pass over a given point") can be required to have a 30 foot wide road, to accommodate 2-8 foot wide travel lanes and 2-7 foot wide parking lanes.


How is average daily trips (ADT) calculated? Single family homes and duplex units are considered to have 10.2 ADT's. Townhouses are considered to have 5.9 ADT's.


Lakewood Township's Planning and Zoning Boards - under the guidance of the Township Committee - actually currently exceed this maximum requirement and require cartway widths of new roads to be 32 feet wide. The Township operates this requirement under the assumption that no developer will complain to the state about the additional 2 feet.


So what can the Township do to help the situation even more?


As stated earlier, the use and density of lots are determined by the Township. So, the Township can simply modify the existing ordinances which permit for many houses to be built on each road. This would mean less houses on each road, leading to less congestion for school buses, emergency vehicles, and garbage trucks.


There is also another thing that the Township Committee can do if they want to truly Make Lakewood Great (Again?).


The RSIS actually provides for municipalities, in connection with a specific development, to request a waiver of any site improvement standard.


Did you read that last paragraph clearly?


Yup!


The state does have a maximum cartway width and the township can not just require developers to pave wider roads. However, the state does permit municipalities to request waivers from this standard.


A number of municipalities have requested, and have been granted waivers. To our knowledge, Lakewood Township has never submitted any such waiver request to the state. They can argue "it's not worth us trying", however, factually 1) they have never bothered to try, and 2) other municipalities have in fact been granted waivers.


By the way, for the curious minded, the intent and purpose of the RSIS rules are:


1. To reduce the multiplicity of standards for residential subdivisions and site improvements which currently exists in this State in order to eliminate unnecessary increases in the cost of housing where there are noncommensurate gains in the protection of public health and safety;  


2. To avoid unnecessary cost in the construction process, and to provide site improvement standards that are both sound and cost effective;  


3. To ensure predictability in the site improvement standards applicable to residential construction; 


4. To provide for development reviews of residential projects that are based, to the greatest extent possible, upon sound objective site improvement standards rather than upon discretionary design standards;  


5. To streamline the development approval process and improve the efficiency of the application process by providing a uniform set of technical site improvement standards for land development.



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