A Community by the River

Borough of Brielle, NJ

September 8, 2009

October 29 2009

September 8, 2009



The Regular meeting of the Brielle Planning Board was held on Tuesday, September 8, 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, Councilman Frank A. Garruzzo,
Thomas Heavey, Charles Sarnasi, Tim Sigler, James Stenson,
Terre Vitale

Absent Thomas Condon, James Harman, James Langenberger

Also present were Michael Rubino, Board Attorney, Alan Hilla, Jr., Board Engineer and Karen S. Brisben, Recording Secretary. There were 6 people in the audience.

Vice-Chairman Heavey 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.

The Minutes of the August 11, 2009 meeting were then approved on a motion by Mr. Stenson, seconded by Mrs. Vitale and approved by voice vote, all aye.


Board members received a notice of application to DEP for 1106 Shore Drive, owned by Melchor & Jane Go Lui, Project: proposed 100’ L.F. of gabions behind the mean high water line.


The Board then turned to an application for variance for Block 93.01, Lot 4, 413 Laurel Avenue, owned by Daniel D. Girdner (applicant: Leilani Girdner), to allow construction of a 638 square foot addition to a single family dwelling. Rear Yard Setback 40 feet required, 13.5 feet proposed, 26.5 foot variance requested.

The fee of $300 was paid, taxes are paid to date and property owners within 200 feet as well as the newspaper were properly notified. Mr. Frank Lodolce, the architect in this matter, came forward to present the application and was sworn in. He said he has not testified in front of any Board but is licensed in New Jersey, a graduate of Pratt Institute of Brooklyn. The Board accepted him as an expert witness.

He testified that this is a three bedroom ranch and the applicant wants to add a master bedroom due to her disability and trouble going up stairs. Mrs. Girdner spoke and said she has CMT which is a debilitating condition for her legs and she has trouble walking.

Mr. Lodolce said they could have gone to the back of the house but this is a flag lot so they decided to go on that side, which is considered a rear yard as this property fronts on two streets, front to back. Mr. Lodolce felt this addition here will lessen the impact on the neighbors and he noted that, even though this seems like a large variance request it is due to the unique shape of this lot.

Mr. Heavey saw that this property borders both Laurel Avenue and Osborn Avenue and asked for confirmation that the address is on Laurel and the answer was yes. Mr. Sigler asked if this creates two front yard setbacks and Mr. Hilla spoke and said yes, except for the jog in the property that he is calling a “rear”.

There were two surveys submitted and Mr. Heavey said that both of them show additions on each side; Mr. Lodolce said one addition has already been done as it did not need any variance. Mr. Lodolce also had exhibits showing elevations now and proposed. A question was asked about the size of the addition and the answer was 600 square feet. Mr. Stenson asked where the house is next door to the addition and Mr. Lodolce said that house fronts Osborn Avenue, the addition is to that home’s rear.

At this time Mrs. Leilani Girdner was sworn in. She told the Board she has a condition commonly known as “foot drop” and needs to wear braces on her legs to help her walk; she has a full time attendant to help her. She needs this addition due to this ailment and also wants to put in a bathroom that is handicapped accessible with a walk-in tub and right next to the bedroom along with a walk-in closet.

Mr. Heavey noted the property is in the name of Daniel Girdner and she said that was her husband who passed away last year, she inherited the property through his will. She went on to explain that she soon will need full time help that will have to live at her house, so she wants this addition so the help can use the rest of the house and the existing bedrooms.

At there were no further questions from the Board, the meeting was opened for questions only and there was no comment so that portion was closed. The hearing was then opened for general comments and Mr. David Rodricks came forward, he lives next door. After being sworn in he explained that this side lot addition will come into their back yard by their driveway and he brought his survey to show the Board members. Mr. Rubino marked a survey dated 6/30/09 as Exhibit R-1, this survey done by Seneca Survey Co. Mr. Rodricks said they will be pinned in by 2 feet and will always be looking at this addition; he felt that, in the long term, this will hurt that section of the lot and noted that the area in question is not heavily wooded or full of shrubs. Their home faces Osborn Avenue and their back yard goes to Laurel Avenue, it is an irregular lot; he again said when he drives into driveway he will be looking straight at this addition. He felt that another place would be better, either in front of the home or behind it.

Mr. Sarnasi asked about landscaping, such as arborvitae there but Mr. Rodricks said he has that on the other side of his lot and he can still see through it. Mr. Rubino asked how far is his home from this 50 foot flag lot that juts out and Mr. Hilla said probably about 30 feet; Mr. Rubino noted this would mean about 40 feet between structures.

Next to come forward to speak was Ted Birkenhauer who also lives on Osborn Avenue. After being sworn in he told the Board he was concerned about this sensitive area, he is seeing homes either being demolished or renovated; there is development in this neighborhood. He felt the setbacks should be adhered to so the area does not become “cluttered”, the streets are narrow and the homes are already close together, he was concerned about how the town has pieced everything together with building.

As there were no further comments, this portion of the hearing was closed and the Board went into discussion. Mr. Sarnasi agreed this was a unique piece of property and he didn’t think the addition will impact negatively; this is a wide lot and this addition is on the corner at an angle. To satisfy the neighbors he recommended arborvitaes be put in and commented this is just a bedroom and bathroom, not a living area; he was okay with this application. Mr. Lodolce agreed with Mr. Sarnasi that this can be buffered and he did not see any detriment to this.

Mayor Nicol also felt vegetation can solve this concern of the neighbors and he wanted a mandate to be put in the Resolution stating this requirement. Mr. Stenson asked the architect if this addition can be flipped around and Mr. Lodolce said they looked at different plans but the house is symmetrical and the bedrooms are on that side of the house with the kitchen on the other side. If they put this addition in the front it will create a lopsided house and if they put it in the rear it will be a greater concern to the neighbors. They can go 12 feet all the way down the side of the house which will eliminate the variance need but this will put all the weight on one side of the home which will be closer to the neighbors that are concerned.

Mr. Stenson asked if they just put it in the front and Mr. Lodolce said again that this will make this house lopsided, to put the addition closer to the road and it will dominate the front of the home. He said this can be done but it may still need a variance, he didn’t know.

He can also go out the back to the Osborn Avenue side but this will run the whole distance of the home and will hurt the Osborn Avenue side elevations. Mr. Rubino asked if he can put the addition on the Osborn Avenue side and the answer was yes, it would increase the house for the length for the addition and he would then have to flip the other bedroom on the other side. He felt this would then poke out to Osborn Avenue and will end up being closer to the neighbor’s driveway. He explained they explored many options and felt this was the best one even though it needed a variance. He also noted this addition will keep the existing roof lines.

Mr. Heavey asked if he thought this would be more visually intrusive to the neighbors if this is done and Mr. Ladolce said yes, in his opinion, but they would not need any variances then. Mr. Heavey commented that the Board has to take into account the disability of the applicant but the Ordinance does not address this. Mr. Stenson asked if he could make this addition flush and the answer was yes but they would still need a variance.

Mr. Sigler agreed that it this addition were put in the back of the home it would be worse for the neighbors, but felt if they go the other way down the side of the home they can put in a second floor and create a much larger addition. The way the application is presented a variance is needed and they can only put in a one story addition.

Mrs. Vitale agreed with the rest of the Board and felt Mrs. Girdner can be a good neighbor and put in the proper landscaping; Mr. Hilla agreed with Mr. Sarnasi that arborvitae is best and Mr. Rubino thought they should be 8 foot high, 2 rows staggered with 6 feet on center. Councilman Garruzzo wanted the Resolution to stipulate no second story unless they come back before the Board for another variance.

One final comment from Mr. Hilla for the Board and the audience was that the applicant could put in a detached garage here that could be two-stories and this can be done without a variance.

As there were no further comments or discussion, Mrs. Vitale made a motion to accept the application with the stipulations regarding planting of arborvitae and no second story, this motion seconded by Councilman Garruzzo and approved by the following roll call vote:

Ayes: Mayor Thomas Nicol, Councilman Frank Garruzzo, Thomas Heavey,
Charles Sarnasi, Tim Sigler, James Stenson, Terre Vitale

Noes: None

Mr. Rubino then told the Board of the conversation he had with Mrs. Brisben regarding putting a time limit on Resolutions, this question being brought up by the applicant last week. Mr. Fitzsimmons, the previous attorney, had always put a three year time limit on getting building permits for approved Resolutions and Mr. Rubino had not been putting any time limit in his Resolutions.

The Board then had a brief discussion on this and decided that keeping the 3 year time period was in order and that was enough time to get a building permit; this will not be in all future Resolutions presented to the Board.

As there was no other business to come before the Board, a motion to adjourn was made by Mrs. Vitale, seconded by Councilman Garruzzo and unanimously approved, all aye. The meeting was adjourned at 8:10 pm.

Karen S. Brisben, Recording Secretary