LAKEWOOD ZONING BOARD CHAIRMAN: THIS APPLICATION NEEDS A BUS STOP, SHUL, & PLAYGROUND

No duplexes are coming to Chestnut Street across from Evergreen Avenue - for the time being.


Lakewood Township's Zoning Board this week heard Appeal #4235 for Chestnut Holdings which seeked approval to construct 14 duplex structures (28 homes plus basement apartments) 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, and represented by Attorney Zev Brown, Engineer and Planner Brian Flannery, and Traffic Engineer Scott Kennel.


After over an hour of testimony, including support from some neighbors and opposition from some neighbors, which resulted in concerns from the Board, the applicant's attorney announced they are withdrawing their application.


As previously reported here on FAA News (https://www.faanews.com/2022/07/update-following-exposure-on-faa.html), 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.


Following this exposure, the applicant renoticed for this week's public hearing.


According to the Site Plan drawn up by NewLines Engineering, 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.


To satisfy the Use Variance criteria, Mr. Flannery testified that "all surrounding properties are already developed and this site is particularly suited for the proposed use".


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.


Board Member Moshe Ingber asked about this RSIS issue. In response, Mr. Flannery indicated that they will "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. Mr. Kennel explained that 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).


Board Chairman Abe Halberstam argued that he is concerned that the driveways of the 4 duplexes at the front of the Subdivision are very close to Chestnut Street, which will lead to too much congestion at the entranceway to the development where the boulevard will go.


Mr. Kennel presented the traffic study done by his traffic expert firm. He stated that based on current traffic counts as well as anticipated traffic from this new development, the new 4-way intersection of Chestnut Street and Evergreen Avenue / New Road will flow under acceptable traffic norms.


Mr. Kennel further testified that NJDOT has just recently begun their Route 9 intersection improvements project which will include major upgrades to the nearby Route 9 - Chestnut Street / Cross Street intersection.


Mr. Kennel also advised that Ocean County is planning to upgrade the Chestnut Street / New Hampshire Avenue intersection with a complete redesign which will include modification of the existing jug-handle as well as a new traffic signal at the intersection of Chestnut Street and the modified jug-handle. Mr. Kennel stated that the Ocean County Engineers advised him recently that they have completed the design work for this project and they are waiting for prerequisite state permits before they can bid out the project and they anticipate getting this approval and soliciting bids in the upcoming 2023 year.


Neighbors from Blue River Way then told the Board that the applicant negotiated their concerns with them in good faith and agreed to provide the buffer they requested.


Several neighbors from the Chestnut Street area then opposed the application. Aaron Hirsch noted that there was no proposed shul and the local shuls are already full. He further testified that the applicant failed to adequately address the criteria for the Use Variance.


At that point, Attorney Zev Brown told the Board that he heard concerns from the Board and the applicant wants to go back to the drawing board to redesign the front duplexes to address the Board's safety concerns with the application.


Chairman Halberstam responded that at this point, after neighbors already spent the night here and the Board spent all this time hearing the application, it's unfair to table it and come back next month.


Mr. Halberstam also stated that he wants to address the neighbors' concerns, and therefore this development - if it does come back to the Board - should eliminate the front units to make room for a proper bus stop, and also, a shul and playground should be provided.


At that point, in lieu of the Board denying the application, Mr. Brown formally withdrew the application.


If a new application is submitted, it will have to first go through the entire professional review process, and then provide new notice to the neighbors before it can be presented to the Board.


On a side note, FAA notes that it appears that this application, even with a boulevard, would still not be RSIS-compliant, as RSIS defines a "Multifamily development" (which permits more than 24 houses if you have a boulevard and widened roadway) 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, 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.


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