A Community by the River

Borough of Brielle, NJ

February 10, 2009

March 25 2009

February, 10, 2009



The Regular meeting of the Brielle Planning Board was held on Tuesday, February 10, 2009 at 7:30 pm in the Brielle Borough Hall, 601 Union Lane. After a moment of silent prayer and a salute to the flag, roll call was taken:

Present Mayor Thomas B. Nicol, Thomas Condon, James Harman
Thomas Heavey, James Langenberger, Tim Sigler, James

Absent Councilman Frank A. Garruzzo, Charles Sarnasi, Terre Vitale

Also present were Michael Rubino, Board Attorney, Melissa Rusnak of Birdsall Engineering and Karen S. Brisben, Recording Secretary. There were approximately 12 people in the audience.

Chairman Condon then called the meeting to order and declared a quorum. He announced that, in compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act, notice of this Body’s meeting had been sent to the official newspapers of the Board fixing the time and place of all hearings. He also announced to the audience that the continued hearing scheduled for Block 48.01, lots 10 & 10.01, 314 ½ Fisk Avenue, owned by Michael Vesuvio, was postponed until the March 10, 2009 meeting of the Planning Board.

New Board member James Stenson was sworn in as Alternate Member No. 1 through December 31, 2009 and the Board welcomed him.

The Minutes of the January 13th, 2009 meeting were approved on a motion by Mr. Langenberger, seconded by Mr. Heavey and approved unanimously by voice vote, all aye.


The Board all received a letter of resignation from Susan S. Brady, which was received with regret. Mrs. Brady had been a valuable asset to the Board and she will be greatly missed; Mrs. Brisben would be writing her a letter accepting her resignation and wishing her well.

The Board had received a copy of a letter from Board attorney Michael Rubino to Attorney Michael Landis regarding informal hearings for variances. Mr. Rubino explained that Mr. Landis had contacted him for a client wanting to put in a scooter business which is not allowed in the Commercial Zone and he wanted an informal hearing to discuss this with the Board. Mr. Rubino said he was reluctant to do this as a Board of Adjustment cannot hear an informal hearing but a Planning Board can; as this is a combined board he did not feel comfortable with an informal hearing procedure.

The last item was a letter requesting another extension of time for the filing of a minor subdivision for Block 22.01, Lot 1, 110 South Street, owned by Liam Boland, this hearing was held last May and one extension for filing had already been granted. As Mr. Boland’s letter said they were ready to get this done, the Board felt that granting another 60 days should be more than enough time to get this subdivision perfected and no further extensions will be granted. Mrs. Brisben was instructed to write a letter to Mr. Boland granting him the 60-day extension.


As the announcement had been given regarding the postponement of the hearing for 314 ½ Fisk Avenue, the Board turned to a revised application for a subdivision for Block 25.01, Lots 6 & 7, 522, 528 & 528 ½ Longstreet Avenue, owned by Richard & Myra Strucek. Two plans have been submitted, one for a 3-lot subdivision and one for a 4-lot subdivision.

Mr. C. Keith Henderson, Esq. came forward to represent the Struceks. He reminded the Board that, at the last meeting, they had some concerns about the creation of a flag lot so they went back to the drawing board and redesigned the project. They have now gone from 5 lots to 4 lots and have re-noticed both the property owners and newspapers so all was in order to proceed and this was accepted by the Board.

Mr. Rubino said there is a question of whether this is a new application or a carry-over of the old application. He felt it could be considered as a new one so the new member, Mr. Stenson, can vote; re-notice was done which would back this opinion up. The Board then all agreed that this can be considered a new application.

Mr. Henderson explained this is a simple subdivision to create 4 lots, however, these are bad times and the Struceks want to create 3 lots now and then finalize this subdivision in the future; the purpose of this is there are 2 homes on the one lot and they do not want to have to raze them at this time but will do so in the future.

There is a question of a Use Variance for the preliminary minor site plan. He suggested bonding the cost of the demolition of the existing rear home; to make this a condition will stop the need for a Use Variance and this application can proceed. If there is a Use Variance the Mayor would have to step down as he cannot hear it.

Mr. Condon asked if this is being done as the house in the rear is being rented and the answer is yes. Mr. Rubino wanted to know how comfortable the Board was with this if there is a guarantee that the house will come down the Board can okay this procedure with the bonding, however, if they are not comfortable they have the right to not allow it. Mayor Nicol asked what will happen if someone is still in that house at the end of 3 years and Mr. Henderson said this is what the cash bond will be for, to cover this. Mr. Rubino told the Board that the town may have to take the responsibility to take the house down if the applicant walks away; Mr. Henderson countered with stating this is done all the time, this type of bonding.

Mayor Nicol felt there could be a problem with a tenant and Mr. Henderson again stated they are trying to keep those two homes on the west lot until they are ready to take them down in the future, up to 3 years. Mr. Langenberger asked if they need to come back to this Board for another subdivision at that time and Mr. Rubino said no, this will all be considered this evening. Mr. Sigler asked if the demolition would be for both homes and not just the rear one and Mr. Henderson said yes and Mr. Gilligan will explain this through his testimony.

Mr. Condon noted they are not really changing the use of that lot until they get to the point of building a new home. Mr. Rubino said there is a problem with case law they are intensifying the use as there are two homes on one lot. By shrinking this lot to make another subdivided lot, they are making a need for a Use Variance as there will be intensification of a non-conforming use. Mr. Henderson elaborated on this as said they are trying to create equal lots and are willing to post bonding, the second home will have to be torn down.

He went on to say if they walk away form this there will be one house on this giant lot so the front house could stay. From a practical point of view, they would be crazy not to have a final subdivision in the future, but again stressed that the economy is bad now and this is not the time to do this.

At this time the experts were sworn in for testimony: Charles Gilligan, Melissa Rusnak and James Higgins all came forward and were sworn in. Mr. Gilligan proceeded to explain they have a Minor Subdivision to create 3 lots, two at 62.5 feet wide and the third will stay at 125 feet wide for now. The problem is they are taking 5,000 square feet to create a 62.5 foot wide lot next to it and this makes more use of that large lot as they are taking some of its current square footage away. At this time the 3-lot subdivision plat was marked as Exhibit A-1.

Mr. Gilligan then showed the next exhibit, which was marked as A-2 and displayed the 4 lot subdivision where the larger 40,000 square foot lot is divided and the rear house can stay until then. Mr. Condon felt this could be a nightmare as we do not know what the economy will be 3 years from now but Mr. Gilligan said you could have this problem with this lot as it stands now. Mr. Rubino disagreed and felt the town may have this problem if bonding is done. Mayor Nicol then stated he has a problem in accepting this bond; he felt it will put a burden on the town that they do not need. He agreed the chances are that it won’t but he was not in favor of this procedure and the rest of the Board agreed with him.

At this point Mr. Henderson asked for 3 minutes to confer with his client. After this short break he came back with another solution and that was to do a Minor Subdivision and create two new lots, then have a Major Subdivision for four lots that will have to be perfected within the next 3 years. Mr. Condon asked if they meant the existing house on the eastern lot would be part of this minor subdivision and the other would be part of the preliminary major subdivision and this will eliminate the other issue of the Use Variance and bonding. Mr. Rubino agreed that was how he also saw this proposal. Mr. Gilligan said it would be a preliminary and final Minor Subdivision and a preliminary Major Subdivision.

He explained that Phase 1 would be the making of a 62.5 foot lot on the eastern lot, the one with the existing home on it, and making a 60,000 square foot lot to the west of that and this will be the minor subdivision, preliminary and final; this would not include any part of existing Lot 7. The rest of the property will be combined to make one large lot and will be a preliminary major subdivision now and then finalized within 3 years.

There are variances needed one for building on a street that is 40 feet wide (the Ordinance calls for a 50 foot wide street) and one for lot width, the lots all will be 62.5 feet wide and the Ordinance calls for 75 feet wide. However, the required bulk area is 11,250 sq. ft. and these lots are almost double that. Drainage calculations will be provided and, as far as a full environmental impact statement being needed, they have the findings of the DEP report which showed the rear home cutting into the wetlands area and this is the home that will eventually be taken down to eliminate this. Right now there are 3 homes on 2 lots and, when this subdivision is completed, there will be 4 homes on 4 lots so there will be only one additional home here.

Bradley Avenue in the rear of this property is a paper street and is not accessible, it is a wetlands area and will never be built up; this also makes this property difficult to develop and the property cannot be divided front to back. Mr. Gilligan said that new lot 6.01 will have 20,661 square feet, new lot 6.02 will have 19,579 square feet, new lot 7.01 will have 20,581 square feet and new lot 7.02 will have 20,950 square feet; this equates to ½ acre each lot and the requirement is for 11,250 square feet.

Mr. Henderson asked if there should be a concern over the parking and Mr. Gilligan said these lots are very deep with enough room for garages and excessive parking. The only structure that will remain is the one on new lot 7.02 as this conforms with all setbacks and building requirements; the only deficiency here is the lot width. All the other homes on the other lots will fully comply with the zoning requirements for setbacks & height. There is no need for a traffic study as these lots will be wide enough to put in off-street parking.

Mr. Henderson asked if it is possible to save the existing homes and Mr. Gilligan said they tried that with the first application but the Board was not in favor of that plan. Mr. Henderson reminded the Board that there is no longer a need for a flag lot with this new plan, the only variance being asked for is lot width.

In reference to the Birdsall Engineering report, Mr. Gilligan said they will comply with all conditions other than the need for an environmental impact study. As far as submitting architectural plans, they do not have that information yet but will stipulate that they will comply with all zoning requirements and grading plans. These will be looked at on an individual basis by Birdsall Engineering when the building permits are ready to be applied for. They will get approval from Monmouth County Planning Board and Freehold Soil Conservation.

Mr. Sigler asked if the homes built here can be very large and the answer was yes, they can be up to 4,000 square feet. Mr. Sigler thought that would dwarf the other homes in the neighborhood and Mr. Gilligan said right now an 8,000 square foot home could be built on these lots as they stand if that is what the owner wants.

Mr. Condon questioned the minimum lot width, the plans show 62.5 feet each lot but the engineer’s report says lot 6.02 is only 60.63 feet wide. Mr. Gilligan said the lot width is measured at the required front setback and this lot is skewed, the setback point said 60.63 feet but at the street line it is 62.5 feet.

The Mayor and Mr. Sigler questioned the size of the homes that can be built with the Mayor noting that is why the engineer asked about the architectural plans. Mr. Sigler asked if the Board can regulate the size of the homes to be built and Mr. Rubino said the Board could have a difficult time if they did this; if the builder stays within the Ordinance requirements he can build a bigger home.

At this time the meeting was opened for questions to Mr. Gilligan. Mr. Robert Houseal of Rankin Road came forward and was sworn in, he is Chairman of the Environmental Commission. He wanted to know if there has been a discussion of what is below the ground as far as oil tanks, etc. He thought it appeared that there may have been other structures taken down. Mr. Gilligan said the house to the east is going to remain and if the homes to the west have oil tanks they will be removed, he did not know if anything in between. Mr. Houseal said the groundwater will flow to Debbie’s Creek and then to the Manasquan River and he asked that this be looked into. Mr. Gilligan said if they take the oil tank out it will be safer as they will go to natural gas. Mr. Houseal asked if this can be addressed in the subdivision requirements and Mr. Henderson said they have to do a sweep anyway with a magnometer as they can’t sell the property without this being done. They agreed to address this and do the sweep.

As there were no other public questions, that portion of the hearing was closed and Mr. James Higgins, Professional Planner, came forward to testify. He has been before this Board many times and the Board accepted him as an expert witness. He had reviewed the modified plan and this meets the requirements for the variances for the C-1 and C-2 variances. The site is very deep with going from 287 feet deep to 333 feet deep across the back from west to east; the zone requirements here are for 125 foot deep lots.

This area can hold 7 lots if it could be developed in its entirety but there are wetlands and paper streets so this can’t be done. The applicant is proposing a minor deviation and all other requirements will be complied with, as well as adequate light air and open space for all the lots. Mr. Henderson asked Mr. Higgins if the lots all conformed could larger homes be built and the answer was yes and the width of the homes would also be greater and inconsistent with the neighborhood; he noted that the lots across the street are 50 feet wide. Mr. Rubino asked if they had brought the tax map from the last meeting and they had not, but this is shown on the plan with the lots surrounding the property in question. At this time page 1 of the plan was marked as Exhibit A-3.

Mr. Higgins said on Block 24.01 lots are 150 feet deep and 50 feet wide; he did a survey of all the lots in Blocks 24.01, 25.01, 26.01, 27.01 and 28.01, all these blocks are in the R-3 zone with a total of 57 lots. Out of this total 38 of them have smaller widths than what is being proposed this evening and 40 of them, or 70%, have lots less in area, so these lots presented this evening are 2.8 to 3 times as large as the surrounding properties.

The Master Plan talks of lot area, not lot width. These lots will have no impact on the public good and this subdivision would be a better use of the land. Mr. Henderson asked about any negatives for traffic and infrastructure and Mr. Higgins said there would be none as only one additional house will be added and all the parking will be off-street.

As the Board had no questions for Mr. Higgins, the meeting was opened to the public for questions only. As there were none, that portion was closed and the meeting was open for public statements. Ms. Joan LeClerq of Longstreet Avenue came forward and was sworn in, she lives by the area to be subdivided on a 50 foot wide lot and a house that was built 45 years ago when things were different; the zoning has changed since then and her home is about 7 feet from the property line. She had no problem with the first plan as the existing home was to remain but now a new home will be built and it may be a two-story, the existing home is only one story. She felt the Board may approve the building of 3 new elephants in a row. The existing home only had two people in it and the rear home had only one, this will change. There will be a new home with windows facing her house, she has a modest home and will lose air and light with a larger home next door as well as losing the draw for the fireplace. She can’t see looking into someone’s windows next door even though she did not want to stand in anyone’s way. She would like to see the lot be subdivided with two 75 foot lots and could not believed she will have taken away her air, space and sun, this was disheartening to her.

Jean Hollerbach of 600 Center Street came forward and was sworn in. She could only see this benefitting one family and could envision large homes with more children, etc. This is a beautiful area now and could not see any benefit to the town.

Judy Nealon of 521 Longstreet Avenue came forward and was sworn in. She told the Board this street is used by traffic to avoid the light at Route 71 and Union Lane; cars whizz down this street even with the 25 mph signs posted. She did not think three new homes will benefit Longstreet Avenue, there are a lot of children on this street and this will put them in jeopardy. Mr. Henderson said only one new house will be added but Ms. Nealon said the new homes will be larger houses with more children.

As there were no further comments, that portion of the hearing was closed and Mr. Henderson summed up his application. The last application had a flag lot which was a concern and they are now asking for a preliminary and minor subdivision for one side and a preliminary major subdivision to be finalized in three years for the other side which will cause a demolition of two homes. They meet the C-1 and C-2 criteria with no detriment to the public good and he believed they have addressed all the concerns.

The Board then went into discussion and Mr. Heavey wanted confirmation that there would be a net gain of only one new home and Mr. Henderson said yes. Mr. Rubino reminded Mr. Heavey that the two existing homes would be coming down. Mr. Heavey’s concern was with the flag lot the first time around but he was not really against it. Now there are four lots he would be in favor of this application.

Mr. Stenson asked if they would have to come back for the final plan and Mr. Henderson said yes, they would be back for final major subdivision approval. Mr. Stenson asked if the architectural drawings would be submitted then and Mr. Rubino said no. He explained that tonight they are going to approve the making of two new lots and leaving one large third lot for the future and this is the preliminary major subdivision that would have to be perfected at the time of final approval and this final plan would have to be consistent with the preliminary presented this evening, there will be no drawings of houses submitted. Mr. Henderson agreed and said they did not need architecturals to get subdivision approval, they just have to provide grading plans for each lot. Mr. Rubino added that these lots meet the lot area requirements so the Board does not need to see the architectural plans.

Mr. Langenberger had mixed emotions on this application, these residents have had a park-like setting for years the large homes will make the neighborhood change. He would approve this plan even though he would rather have seen three lots created, not four. Mr. Sigler was concerned that they can’t control the size of the homes to be built and he would be against this application. Mr. Harman said he would be in favor of it.

Mayor Nicol was not in favor of large homes but he felt the Board would lose if this went to Court on that basis, so he would vote for this application. Mr. Condon thought the 62.5 foot wide lots alleviate the concerns of parking. He respected the neighbors’ concern but with the lots the size they are now they can take the homes down and put up very large homes so he would be in favor of this application.

Mr. Rubino stated new plans have to be submitted showing the proper lot numbers and Mr. Henderson said these lot numbers are given out by the Assessor.

As there were no further comments, Mr. Heavey made a motion to approve this application for a Minor Subdivision for proposed Lot 7.02 of two 62.5 foot lots with the rest of the lots combined into one lot. He also included in this motion preliminary approval for a major subdivision for the other lot, to be divided into two lots within 3 years, these subdivisions approved with variances for lot width and street width.
Before the motion was seconded, Mayor Nicol asked if they can limit the height of the home by Ms. LeClerq and Mr. Rubino said if they meet the setbacks and height limitations they have a right to build this, the Board can put this in the Resolution but it could be challenged. Mr. Harman asked if the front setback can be changed and Mr. Henderson said then the houses would not line up and Mr. Rubino felt that, too, could be challenged. Mr. Henderson also commented that her house is set back and if the new house was set back, too, it would block her; he felt the front setback line is the one to use here. Mr. Condon said he could not see a 4,000 square foot house selling in this particular neighborhood.

At this time Mr. Stenson seconded the motion made by Mr. Heavey and this application was approved by the following roll call vote:

Ayes: Mayor Thomas B. Nicol, Thomas Condon, James Harman, Thomas
Heavey, James Langenberger, James Stenson

Noes: Tim Sigler

As there was no other business to come before the Board, a motion to adjourn was made by Mr. Langenberger, seconded by Mr. Harman and unanimously approved, all aye. The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 pm.

Karen S. Brisben, Recording Secretary