Monthly Archives: April 2014

Board of Adjustment Hears Plans for New Townhouse Development

The Spring Lake Heights Board of Adjustment heard an application this evening, April 24, to grant a use variance for property located at 2307 Railroad Avenue, the site of the currently unoccupied Junior Junction day care facility. The site is zoned R-5 residential and would support 4 single-family houses, which is a use consistent with the Borough’s master plan.

The applicant proposes to build an 8-unit townhouse on the 200-foot long property, with only 10 foot side setbacks on either end. When asked how a fire truck would service the property with no entrance to the back, members of the applicant’s team seemed shocked. During testimony, the engineer noted that he had not spoken with any member of the fire company in regards to whether this was a problem or not.

The applicants made the argument that the property had been unsold since 2010 “as it is not conducive to the development of (4) single family homes as permitted under the existing R-5 zone requirements.” This was explained during testimony to mean that people with small children would not want to live near the railroad tracks, but older and retired folks would not mind. However, the units would not be age-restricted.

Units would have two bedrooms and be priced in the $575,000 range.

Several residents asked questions of the applicants, as did the Borough’s Environmental Commission.

Kat Crippen, Chair of the Commission, asked about possible environmental contamination at the site. The applicant noted that the current owners had previously addressed an issue there and removed some in-ground oil tanks. Crippen also addressed the increased noise of the trains, which are now required by NJ Transit to sound their horns long and loud at the crossing. The applicant noted they were aware of the horns and did not feel it would deter older people from living there. Drainage was also discussed, with Crippen noting that there was nothing in the site plan about drainage from the front of the buildings. The applicant noted they were planning to allow all run-off from the front to go down the driveways and into the street. They were not familiar with the ponding issue that occur on the corner of Pitney and Railroad Avenue.

Roberta Spitaletta, who lives at the corner, spoke about the drainage issues there and voiced her concern that it would become worse after building.

Melanie Knobel of Wall Road also asked about flooding. The applicant noted they were not aware of this condition, but they felt they had everything pretty well documented.

Albert Weirman asked about increased stress on the water and sewer service, in light of the many recent water main and sewer collapses the Borough had experienced. The applicant was not aware there was any issue with the pipes.

Ms. Knobel asked if she could address a question to the Board; chairman Dennis Pearsall agreed and asked her to step forward. She asked if she was understanding the process correctly, that despite whatever zoning law was on the books, that an applicant could come before the Board that night and the law would be waived for them, that the legal zoning could just be overturned “right here, tonight.” Board attorney Mark Kitrick confirmed this, but Ms. Knobel continued to question the Board members. They remained largely non-committal, but Board member John Tangeman concurred with what Ms. Knobel was saying, that yes, the existing zoning on that property can be voted out this evening.

Although the applicant’s team then called their planner to testify, Chairman Pearsall abruptly asked that the application be carried to the next meeting. He noted that it was almost 9:30 PM and there was still much to discuss. After some debate, it was agreed to carry the matter to the May 22 meeting.

Board attorney Kitrick explained to the members of the audience that, since most of them were neighbors who had been noticed on the application, that they would NOT be receiving a second notice; only one is required by law.

Members voted to adjourn. Members in attendance were Chairman Pearsall, vice-chair Brian Brendle, John Tangeman, Steve Weiss, Andy Zelenak, Owen Quinn, and Robert Cindea. Randy Maccanico and Tom Martin were absent.

Architect’s rendering of proposed townhomes:

2014 site plans 022

Site plan plat from above showing building layout:

2014 site plans 023