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Lakewood Township's Zoning Board is scheduled tonight to hear Application ZB 4262 for Blanche Holdings LLC, for approval to construct two duplex homes with driveways along the currently unimproved Blanche Street off of Wood Avenue, at the end of Prospect Square.

The application is being represented by Attorney Miriam Weinstein.

The entire application is only for 2 new homes and Prospect Square already has many homes. The interesting part however, is that 2 years ago, when the Zoning Board approved duplexes 2 doors down, they were assured that "this is it. There's no more vacant land here available for residential homes", and yet, somehow this new application has somehow popped up!

As shown in the photo above, as part of the application the applicant will pave the currently unimproved portion of Blanche Street from its paved intersection with Wood Avenue to the east.

Lowden Avenue, is paved to the west and currently only serves as access to the adjacent Special Children's Center. Blanche Holdings is seeking a road waiver from the Zoning Board so they do not need to pave their frontage of this road or install curb or sidewalk along it. In lieu, the application seeks to provide a temporary turnaround within the intersection of Blanche Street and Lowden Avenue.

In essence this will separate the traffic between The Center and Prospect Square with each using only their existing roads. It will also create a tighter squeeze for the existing residents of Prospect Square, especially the residents of Wood Avenue who will not be able to use Lowden Avenue for additional access.

Most of Prospect Square is located in the Township's R-M zoning district which permits high density duplex, however the section between Wood Avenue and Lowden Avenue is located in the Township's A-1 zone which is one of the Township's remaining "protected Agricultural zones" which permits only single family detached dwellings at a density of one dwelling per two acres.

The property is 13,945.06 SF, or 0.320 acres in size. In order to gain approval for a duplex on this lot in the A-1 zone, the applicant requires a Use Variance (for the use of the duplex type of housing) as well as a Density variance (for two units where only one unit per two acres is permitted).

Due to the undersized lot area, the application seeks to construct the duplexes according to the standards of the R-7.5 Zone, rather than the standards of the A-1 Zone in which the Property is located. This requires Bulk variance relief.

Despite the proposed number of residential lots being only 2, due to extension of the roadways, the application is considered to be heard as a Major Subdivision and therefore requires Preliminary and Final Major Subdivision approval.

Under the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL) the Board can grant the Bulk Variance relief as long as the applicant can testify that "the purposes of the MLUL would be advanced by the granting of the requested variances" and that "the benefits of the deviation would substantially outweigh any detriment". (Spoiler Alert: Every applicant states that Lakewood's Master Plan states that we have an insatiable need for more housing and that granting variances so houses can get built will "advance this purpose" and that "the benefit of the deviation substantially outweighs any detriment of increased traffic congestion.")

However, the MLUL also specifies that a Zoning Board may only grant a Use Variance "in particular cases for special reasons". Hm... Let's see what they come up for us with this application!

Even cooler than this is that nearly 2 years ago, on December 7, 2020, the Zoning Board heard Application ZB 4164 for Marble Arch (Block 475 Lot 1). In the map below, that application is shown in red, and the current application is shown in black.

Mrs. Weinstein and Engineer Brian Flannery represented that application as well.

At that hearing, numerous Prospect Square neighbors opposed the application, especially the fact that the proposed units faced Blanche Street which did not conform to the neighborhood. (This design was chosen in order to be able to seek a road waiver from paving the intersecting road which is the way all the other units in the neighborhood are designed).

Mrs. Weinstein and Mr. Flannery solemnly reassured the Board that "the impact of one duplex on a 12,000 sq foot lot in this area is non existent as anyways Prospect Square is duplexes on 10,000 sq feet lots".

They explained that the different home layout was simply intended to "give the future owners larger backyards".

They also represented to the Board that they won't be seeing more applications for duplexes in this A-1 zone as "a lot of the property to the south is owned by the township, and the surrounding properties are owned by the Special Childrens Center and the Cerebral Palsy of Ocean County, which won't be building any duplexes".

Magically, though, it's not even 2 full years later and yet, here we are with yet more duplexes here!

By the way, there's no need for you to think that "that was a glitch, this really is the last available duplex lot" as you can see in the map above that there is yet another lot available in between these units and the previously approved units.

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