All meeting minutes posted on the township website are unofficial minutes. Official copies of minutes may be obtained from the Planning/Zoning Department.

Minutes: April 14, 2021

Call to Order

Meeting was called to order by Chairman Theobald at 7:00 p.m. Meeting held via Zoom Webinar.

Statement of Compliance

Pursuant to the Open Public Meetings Act, adequate notice of this Regular Meeting has been provided to the public and the press on January 18, 2021 by delivering to the press such notice and posting same at the Municipal Building.

Roll Call  Also Present
Mayor’s Designee Diane WexlerP Steve Tombalakian, Board Attorney
Craig WilliamsP Cory Stoner, Board Engineer
Councilmember AubergerP Jessica Caldwell, Board Planner
Martin TheobaldP Kimberley Decker, Board Secretary
Richard SpoerlP  
Willard McPeekP  
Andrea CoculaP  
Michael WhitakerP  
Kristi RapertoP  
Kelly Mitchell Alternate #1NP  
Joseph Tadrick Alternate #2NP  
Paul Mele Alternate #3P  
Mark Vizzini Alternate #4NP  

Public Hearings

LU# 2-21-1 - Evan Dolcimascolo - Block 458, Lot 92, - Bulk Variance for a front yard deck and staircase

Record reflects that Richard Spoerl stepped down from hearing the application.

Mr. Evan Dolcimascolo, applicant was sworn in and stated he and his wife Emily Ross and their families both grew up in Highland Lakes and love the community. He stated since they bought the house last year they replaced the septic system, heating system and remodeled the interior with hopes to soon start a family.

Ms. Caldwell stated the application is complete and may proceed to be heard.

Mr. Dolcimascolo displayed numerous photos of the site to explain details of application.

  • Exhibit A-1 slide #1: View of front of house
  • Exhibit A-1 slide #2: View of Highland Lake from front of house
  • Exhibit A-1 slide #3: View of front of house with existing staircase noting that proposed landing and new staircase would improve safety. Slide also shows recently improved four-season porch with new windows and siding.
  • Exhibit A-1 slide #4: plans showing proposed new deck, landing and staircase that will not be any wider than existing footprint
  • Exhibit A-1 slide #5 & 6: sketch of neighboring houses showing varying distances of 33', 39' and 49' to roadway.
  • Exhibit A-1 slide#7: View from property line of neighbor and stated proposed deck is trying to be considerate of neighbors and not impose on their view of lake.
  • Exhibit A-1 slide #8: Existing property survey with proposed deck depicted to show 21" proposed setback.

In summary, Mr. Dolcimascolo explained he and his wife have made many improvements to the 800 sq. ft cabin and want to enjoy the view of the lake by enhancing the front deck. He added the back yard backs up to Manaticut Road and RT 638 with no view of the lake.

Ms. Caldwell, per report dated March 29, 2021, stated that Bulk C variance relief is required for front yard setback and suggested a C-2 planning alternative could apply. She explained there is more useable yard space is in the front yard and the benefit outweighs the detriments with no significant impact to the neighbors. Mr. Dolcimascolo added the site is under one half acre and the house is set forward with no view of lake in back.

Mr. Whitaker questioned if any trees would be removed and will the deck be over the parking area. Mr. Dolcimascolo stated no trees will need to be removed for this application and the deck will not go over the parking area. He added that the deck would be made of pressure treated wood and stained with same color as the house for a cohesive look.

Mr. Mele stated if the existing staircase needed to be replaced, a 3 ft landing would be required per building code for safety reasons triggering a land use board application at that time.

Chairman Theobald opened the hearing to the public.

Carol Barocus questioned if the board members received the letter, she had previously sent on March 26, 2021. She stated she currently lives in Manhattan but visits her second home next door to Mr. Dolcimascolo frequently and plans to soon retire there permanently. Ms. Barocus expressed concern over size of deck increasing their footprint by 40 %, that the deck will obstruct her view of the lake and decrease her property value. Ms. Barocus opined the deck would be out of character for the neighborhood as no other homes have front decks and would be noisier and decrease privacy. Ms. Barocus stated the owners have taken down many trees and shrubs, some of which where hers without permission and replace it with a stockade fence causing decreased sunlight to her property. She added when Mr. Dolcimascolo repaired their septic system, it encroached onto her property but was only revised when she contacted the Health Department. Ms. Barocus commented that her neighbor has a large private back yard with room to expand their back deck and at same time does not diminish values of the neighborhood. She thanked board for consideration in this matter.

Mr. Dolcimascolo stated that he was guided by licensed professionals when repairing his septic system and noted disappointment that trees and shrubs were removed in the process. He showed Exhibit A-1 slides #12 & 13 depicting septic plans and fence that was installed per Township zoning code on his property. He added his home is currently 800 sq. ft with only view of lake from the front yard and hopes to expand in future to raise a family.

Carol Barocus questioned what prevents the applicant from converting the proposed deck into two bedrooms in the future as the deck is exceptionally large. She opined that because of issues with the septic, fence and removed greenery, the applicant has a lack of respect for others in the community.

Mr. Mele questioned size of back deck and how the size of front deck was planned. Mr. Dolcimascolo explained the 12' front deck allows for ample space for table and chairs with no roof or intention in future to build bedrooms.

Carol Barocus opined it will obstruct her view of the lake and a smaller deck would be better.

Chairman Theobald closed the meeting to the public.

Motion: Motion is made to approve LU#2-21-1 with variances as discussed by Ms. Cocula and was seconded by Mr. Whitaker.

ROLL CALL: WEXLER: Y; WILLIAMS: Y; AUBERGER: Y; MCPEEK: Y: COCULA: Y; WHITAKER: Y; RAPERTO: Y; MELE: Y; THEOBALD: Y.
Motion passed.

Richard Spoerl returned to meeting.

LU# 2-21-2 - Christopher Newsom - Block 263, Lot 4, - Major Site Plan with Use and Bulk Variances for a proposed 3,200 square foot pole barn

Record reflects that Diane Wexler and John Auberger stepped down from hearing the application.

Mr. Kenneth Wentink, Engineer and Christopher Newsom, applicant, came forward and were sworn in to testify. Mr. Stoner stated there were three waivers requested:

  1. Delineation of Environmentally Sensitive Areas
  2. Environmental Impact Statement
  3. Access driveway per ASHTO standards

Motion: Motion was made to approve submission waivers by Mr. Spoerl and was seconded by Mr. Williams. All members were in favor. Motion passed.

Mr. Wentink explained application is to construct a 3,200 sq. ft pole barn on existing 6.2-acre site approximately 500 ft from county roadway. Pole barn will be used as storage for trucks and any outside storage. He added the proposal will not affect the zoning plan as site is 70' lower than roadway and well hidden. Mr. Wentink stated the building will not be hooked up to existing septic system and is over 150' from wetlands transition line.

Mr. Stoner stated three variances are being requested: size of 3,200 sq, ft. (40 x 80) for an accessory structure is larger than allowed; height of 24 ft is higher and because site is a flag lot, accessory structure is not allowed in the front yard.

Mr. Wentink explained the area chosen for the pole barn was the best location to avoid the steep slopes of the site. He added the pole barn will be a steel frame barn in neutral earth-tone color.

Mr. Stoner stated that since application is before the land use board, a lot development application is not required and prior to a CO being issued, he will inspect. He noted the location of the seepage pits for drainage proposed and that they would not be visible from roadway.

Ms. Caldwell per report dated March 29, 2021, restated the three variances needed: height, size, and accessory structure in front yard. She explained the use is not permitted in the zone, but board must decide whether use is suited for property and if any negative criteria exist.

Mr. Williams questioned the elevation of the pole barn height compared to elevation at the roadway and distance from adjacent houses. Mr. Wentink explained the ridgeline elevation is a 540 ft and roadway is at 594 ft and nearest house is over 320 ft away behind heavy woods.

Chairman Theobald opened the hearing to the public. Seeing no one wishing to comment, Chairman Theobald closed hearing to the public.

Mr. Wentink asked board for approval based on testimony presented for Major Site Plan with Bulk variances for a proposed 3,200 sq, ft pole barn.

Mr. Whitaker noted size of pole barn is very large for zone and expressed concern about vacant Lots # 7 & 8 located in front of site. Attorney Tombalakian stated all property owners within 200 ft were legally noticed of right to participate but no one chose to attend. Mr. Stoner added that Lot 7 and Lot 8 are both undersized for R2 zone and Lot 7 is landlocked which will require a right of way easement if built on.

Mr. Spoerl questioned if color of roof can be an earth tone instead of silver to be more aesthetically pleasing. Board discussed color of barn and agreed to have Ms. Caldwell work with applicant to choose color. Mr. McPeek questioned what is to prevent any future owner of property to use this site for different manner that was or may be approved. Mr. Stoner explained the written land use board resolution when approved is unique to this site and enforced by the Zoning Officer for compliance. He added, this applicant testified the pole barn is not a working garage, not a business and only intended for storage and changes would require owner to come back before board for further approvals.

Motion: Motion is made to approve LU#2-21-2 by Mr. Williams as presented with requested variances and was seconded by Mr. Spoerl.

ROLL CALL: WILLIAMS: Y; SPOERL: Y; MCPEEK: Y: COCULA: N; WHITAKER: Y; RAPERTO: Y; THEOBALD: Y.
Motion passed.

Public Participation

Chairman Theobald opened the meeting to the public. Seeing no one wishing to comment, Chairman Theobald closed meeting to the public.

Land Use Board Discussion Items (Action May or May Not Be Taken)

Board members discussed returning to in person meetings at the municipal building with necessary COVID-19 restrictions of social distancing and requirement of masks beginning with first meeting in June 2021. Ms. Decker explained if number of attendees exceeds the maximum number allowed, the meeting would need to be cancelled.

ROLL CALL: WILLIAMS: Y; THEOBALD: Y; SPOERL: Y; MCPEEK: Y: COCULA: Y; WHITAKER: Y; RAPERTO: Y; MELE: Y. Motion passed.
MINUTES

March 24, 2021 - Regular Meeting Minutes (McPeek, Cocula, Whitaker, Mitchell, Tadrick, Mele, Vizzini)

Motion: Motion to approve minutes of March 24, 2021 was made by Mr. Mele and was seconded by Mr. McPeek.

ROLL CALL: MCPEEK: Y: COCULA: ABSTAIN; WHITAKER: Y; MELE: Y.
Motion passed.

Adjournment

There being no further items of business to be conducted on the agenda, a motion was made by Mr. McPeek and was seconded by Mr. Theobald. All members were in favor. Meeting adjourned at 8:33 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted
Irene Mills, Recording Secretary