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Lakewood Township's Planning Board recently denied an application to build houses at the busy James Street and Sunset Road intersection.

No, this was not an application for 200 units, or even 20 units. This was an application for 2 units. Actually, just 1 single new family home.

The applicant, Franklin Shapiro, sought Minor Subdivision approval to subdivide the rear yard of 30 Independence Court into a second lot which would have a driveway on the north side of James Street, just west of its signalized intersection with Sunset Road. This driveway would not require any backing in or out, as they would provide an oversized driveway with a hammer-head turn-around.

Both the existing home and the proposed home are single family homes.

The site is situated within the R-10 Single-Family Residential Zone. Single-family dwellings are permitted use in this zone, on lots of at least 10,000 sq feet each.

The application was represented by Attorney Adam Pfeffer and Engineer Brian Flannery. They testified that the application has already received favorable consideration from the Ocean County Planning Board.

The existing parcel is irregular shaped and contains 21,812 sq feet or 0.501 acres, so there is more than enough space for each newly created lot to be greater than 10,000 sq feet in area.

However, the Subdivision did require some variances which are existing non-conformities.

The existing tract which contains a two-story single-family frame dwelling with a second story deck was to be known as New Lot 8.01.

No variances were requested for the proposed new home, however, to make room for the Subdivision, this lot proposed a Minimum Rear Yard Setback Variance of 7 feet for the second-floor deck, where 20 feet is required.

Mr. Flannery testified that this Minimum Rear Yard Setback Variance is an existing non-conformity because this house built before the Township Committee amended the ordinances to require all decks to be built outside the setbacks.

The existing home also requires a parking variance as the house now requires 4 off-street parking spaces and the existing driveway only contains 2 off- street parking spaces. This is also an existing non-conformity as this house was built prior to enactment of the State's Residential Site Improvements Standards which now require additional parking for new residential homes.

The application was originally submitted with a parking variance request to keep the 2 parking spaces as is with no new parking spaces. However, Mr. Flannery testified that if the Board preferred, they would install additional parking spaces to eliminate this variance.

The application also sought a design waiver from providing sufficient landscaping.

Screening type vegetation exists along the James Street and Sunset Road frontages. However, No street trees currently exist along the Independence Court frontage of the project and none were proposed. The application sought a design waiver from providing street trees along the road frontages. The Township's Shade Tree Commission requested a Landscaping Plan that proposes street trees, buffer plantings, and foundation plantings. The Board Engineer concurred that the Board should require street trees as a condition of any approval.

All utilities are located nearby, however, the applicant did not provide a stormwater management. That would have been required to be addressed with the plot plan submission if granted Board approval.

Mr. Flannery further testified that the plans propose a 2 foot wide right-of-way dedication to Ocean County as well as an 8 foot wide right-of-way easement to Ocean County along the project’s County Highway frontages, and that this would permit the county to widen James Street to provide for a new, right turning lane onto Sunset Road.

To satisfy the requirements of the criteria of the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law which is required to be granted the variances, Mr. Flannery testified that the Township's 2017 Master Plan notes the continued population growth in Lakewood and calls for an increase of housing to meet the housing needs of this population growth, and, that by granting the deviation from the zoning ordinance requirements required for this Subdivision, the purposes of the MLUL would be advanced, as, the MLUL states "it is the intent and purpose of this act; a. To encourage municipal action to guide the appropriate use or development of all lands in this State, in a manner which will promote the public health, safety, morals, and general welfare; e. To promote the establishment of appropriate population densities and concentrations that will contribute to the well-being of persons, neighborhoods, communities and regions and preservation of the environment;" and the benefits of the deviation (which would fulfill the Township Master Plan mandate to increase housing) would substantially outweigh any detriment which would be minimal and that such relief can be granted without substantial detriment to the public good and will not substantially impair the intent and the purpose of the zone plan and zoning ordinance.

The Planning Board was not too impressed with this presentation. They were more concerned with the new driveway directly onto James Street, which would sought to permit left turns into and off from James Street, just west of the busy signalized intersection. Board members opined how dangerous left turns here are.

Several neighbors spoke up in opposition to the application, citing drainage concerns on their own property due to the loss of trees on the applicant's property, and other concerns.

Seeing as they were about to get denied, the applicant's professionals attempted to request that the Board table the application so they could redraw the plans to eliminate the driveway from James Street and instead provide a driveway easement through the existing driveway on Independence Court.

The Board denied the request to table, and instead voted to deny the application. Attorney Adam Pfeffer tried to interject that "this is a fully conforming application which the Board does not have the authority to deny". Board Member Eli Rennert retorted that there was an existing setback variance which the application sought to affirm and the Board certainly does have the legal authority to deny affirmation of a variance. Board Chairman Moshe Neiman noted that, as previously reported here on FAA News, the Board recently denied a "fully conforming" application on Fourteenth Street, citing safety concerns, and here as well there certainly is a safety concern.

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Anonymous said...

Finally the Planning Board is standing up to developers and pushing back to benefit ALL of Lakewood. Not just the few and powerful. Its been a long time coming but it looks like the tide is beginning to turn! The new (and returning) Chairman- Moshe Neimann is showing hes got what it takes !

Anonymous said...

The chairman is not strong at all. I’ve been keeping a close eye at what he’s been pushing through, and I’m very disappointed.