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At their upcoming public hearing on Monday, September 12th, Lakewood Township's Zoning Board is scheduled to continue hearing Appeal #4235 for Chestnut Holdings which seeks approval to construct 14 duplex structures (28 homes plus basements) on a new cul-de-sac off Chestnut Street across from Evergreen Avenue.

The application was submitted by Jacob Lipshitz and Hersh Eissenberg of Chestnut Holdings NJ LLC.

As previously reported here on FAA News (, back in July the Board was forced to table that application after neighbors - who were notified via FAA's exposure - testified to the Board that the application proposed duplexes in a zone where they are not permitted and therefore a Use Variance - which had not been advertised for - was required for the application.

The application has now been re-noticed for a Use Variance.

According to the Site Plan drawn up by NewLines Engineering, the engineer for this application as well as a vast majority of Lakewood land use board applications, the 4.65 acre site is located mainly in the HD-7 zone, but the backyards of one side of the proposed homes are in the R-12 zone.

The HD-7 zone conditionally permits duplexes on lot sizes of a minimum of 8,500 square feet and 60 feet wide, up to 8 duplex dwelling units and associated roadways per acre, as long as no homes are built within 200 feet of Route 9. Most of the proposed duplexes do indeed conform to this conditionally permitted use ordinance. 

However, the R-12 zone only permits Single Family Houses on 12,000 sq feet each. Duplexes are not a permitted use in the zone. As such, a Use Variance is required for all the duplexes that cross into the R-12 zone.

Under the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law, a Zoning Board may only grant a Use Variance "in particular cases for special reasons", which the applicant must prove. This is much different from a "standard" planning board application where it's a permitted use but there is a bulk variance (such as for lot size); in that case the applicant only needs to prove that "the benefits of the deviation would substantially outweigh any detriment". In that case every applicant states that Lakewood's Master Plan states that we have an insatiable need for more housing and this benefit substantially outweighs the detriment of increased traffic congestion. In this case, this testimony would not suffice. The applicant also can not testify that duplexes would fit with the character of the neighborhood because actually, there are no other duplexes on this section of Chestnut Street.

There is an additional major problem with this application.

All 28 of the new duplex houses are proposed to be accessed from one single cul-de-sac. The New Jersey Residential Site Improvements Standard (RSIS) does not permit more than 24 single family or duplex units on a cul-de-sac unless there is also an additional secondary access road.

It appears that the application seems to be trying to "work around this issue" by widening the cartway width to 40 feet wide and installing a boulevard at the intersection. RSIS permits more homes on a block as long as you widen the cartway width to 40 feet wide and install a boulevard at the intersection. The purpose of the boulevard is to maintain access for vehicles even if there is a vehicle crash at the only roadway access (the boulevard will keep vehicles from rolling over the width of the entire roadway).

The issue with is that RSIS defines a "Multifamily development" as "a development other than one-or two-family detached dwellings where the dwellings are arranged so that there are more than two units attached, regardless of the presence of lot lines." 

In other words, "Multifamily developments" - which are permitted to have more than 24 houses if you have a boulevard and widened roadway - is only for developments of "other than one-or two-family detached dwellings where the dwellings are arranged so that there are more than two units attached". Duplexes are not permitted to use this loophole to squeeze more houses onto the cul-de-sac road.

The applicant may attempt to "work around this issue" by rebranding their "duplexes" into "Multi-Family Housing", however, that won't work for 2 reasons:

1) RSIS clearly eliminates duplexes from the definition of a Multi-Family development.

2) Neither the HD-7 or the R-12 zone permit Multi-Family Housing. Therefore, to permit Multi-Family Housing, a use variance would be required for every single duplex, whether it is in the HD-7 zone or the R-12 zone.

As such, the applicant's method of simply adding a boulevard and widened the roadway width did not solve anything.

Originally, this applicant tried pretending that the application was by-right with no Use Variance required. Even worse, the Board Engineer appeared to be playing a blind eye to the major extent of the issues.

See our full coverage of the original issue here at

Thanks to our exposure, neighbors presented this glaring, jurisdictional issue at the Zoning Board hearing in July and the Board tabled the application so the applicant could re-notice properly.

As previously reported here on the FAA News (, the Zoning Board is also scheduled to hear Appeal #4229a for SGS Development Project, LLC, approval to construct 3 duplex structures (6 homes) and 4 undersized single family homes for a total of 10 units off Chestnut Street where only single family homes on 20,000 sq feet size lots are permitted. 

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Anonymous said...

What sort of lawyer takes on application like this??

Anonymous said...

Soon Chestnut will be full of duplex developments..