A Community by the River

Borough of Brielle, NJ

December 11, 2012

January 17 2013

December 11, 2012



The Regular meeting of the Brielle Planning Board was held on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 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 Nicol, James Langenberger, Gina Murdoch, John O’Donnell, Tim Sigler, Nicholas Stango, James Stenson

Absent Councilman Frank Garruzzo, Thomas Condon, James Harman, Charles Sarnasi, Terre Vitale

Also present was Karen S. Brisben, Recording Secretary, Steven Pardes, Alternate Board Attorney and Glenn Lines, Alternate Board Engineer. There were 20 people in the audience.

Vice-Chairman Stenson 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 Vice-Chairman also made the announcement that the hearing scheduled this evening for a Site Plan to allow construction of a pool for Block 52, Lots 2-8.01, Hoffman’s Marina West, LLC, 608 Green Avenue, was postponed, by the applicant, until the January 8, 2013 meeting of the Planning Board; no further notice will be given.

The Minutes of the October 9, 2012 meeting were approved on a motion by Mr. Langenberger, seconded by Mayor Nicol and approved unanimously by voice vote, all aye.


A copy of a notice to the NJDEP was received for Block 52, Lot 1, 622 Green Avenue (Union Landing Restaurant), owned by Larry Schmidt, to permit dredging. Also received was a NJDEP notice for Block 59, Lot 11-11.01, 8 Crescent Drive, owned by Brian Kimmins, to construct a dwelling with inground pool, paver patio, wood deck & other ancillary construction.

The September/October issue of the NJ Planner was received.


The Board turned to the continuation of application for Site Plan approval for Block 65.01, Lot 8, 629 Higgins Avenue, owned by M. Holtzman Realty, LLC (Applicant Brielle Sports Club) to allow construction of an indoor pool.

Mr. Roger McLaughlin, Esq. came forward to represent the Sports Club and said there were a couple of issues brought up at the last hearing; he asked Mr. Charles Gilligan of Gilligan Engineering to come forward (Mr. Gilligan had been sworn in at the beginning of the hearings on this matter). The first issue was the building height and Mr. Gilligan testified that the existing building is 23.6 feet and the proposed addition is 22.8 feet which is an allowable height.

The other issue was parking and they had a green bank parking plan; Mr. Gilligan was asked to measure the second floor of the proposed addition which came to a recalculation of 821 square feet. He subtracted the storage area and tanning club and came up with 221 parking spaces. They meet all parking requirements and, therefore, do not have to use the green banking area so that can remain as it is, unpaved; this is the area behind the Quick-Pick Store at the back end of Sandy Court.

Mr. Scott Keneally, Esq., an objector and neighboring property owner to this proposal, asked how Mr. Gilligan measured the area and the answer was the Gross Floor Area. Mr. Keneally asked if this excludes storage areas and the answer was yes. Part of the area is storage and, while Brielle does not specifically address this he used the State guideline. Mr. Keneally asked if he used the retail store requirements and Mr. Gilligan said yes, the gym really doesn’t really fall under this definition but it was the closest thing they could use. Mr. Keneally questioned this as Brielle does not address storage directly as being excluded. He then asked about a swim club and Mr. Gilligan corrected him by stating this is not a swim club, it is a gym. Mr. Keneally asked if parking was an issue in the last application made and Mr. McLaughlin said he had information to submit on that application.

Mr. Keneally then asked if a traffic study was done and Mr. Gilligan said no. Mr. Keneally said that Neptune High School and The Atlantic Club allow swim teams and Mr. McLaughlin said they are totally different and this does not apply here.

Mr. Keneally asked what is the percentage of the site that is landscaped and Mr. McLaughlin protested to this was it was repetitive to testimony already given. Mr. Stenson wanted to know why Mr. Keneally was asking this and he said the Board has to vote on the landscaping; Mr. McLaughlin again said this was already addressed and Mr. Pardes agreed he thought there was a figure given in the last meeting’s Minutes; Mr. Gilligan said he gave the calculations at that time. The total is 22.9% now and 21.5% is proposed. Mr. Keneally noted the removal of the green banking and Mr. Gilligan said the second floor yoga studio would require 4.5 spaces. He then asked what percentage would there be if they developed the green banking area and Mr. Gilligan said he did not know. Mr. Keneally asked about CAFRA requirements and Mr. Gilligan did not know, the DEP comes into play if 50 more spaces are created so they do not fall under that criteria. Mr. McLaughlin said the Ordinance does not provide parking for Health Clubs so they used the more restrictive retail space requirements. Mr. Keneally felt there were more restrictive requirements in the Ordinance and Mr. Gilligan said they used the ones closest to Personal Use.

Mr. McLaughlin, at this time, asked that three exhibits be moved into evidence, Minutes of the March 9, April 13 and May 11, 2004 meetings of the Planning Board on the Sports Club previous application. Mr. Pardes marked these as A-1, A-2 and A-3 with tonight’s date.

The hearing was opened for questions to Mr. Gilligan and Mark Morrow of 611 Locust Road came forward and said he was confused as to where the storage area is, he is a member of the Club. Mr. Gilligan told him there is 574 square feet of storage space, also the tanning club has 119 square feet of storage and the liquor store has much more. Mr. Morrow asked if the second floor was included in the square footage calculation and the answer was yes.

Next to come forward was Noni Dickerson of 618 Locust Road. In the original Resolution there were trees to be planted and now those trees are to be removed; she wanted to know why. Mr. Gilligan told her those trees will not be removed, only some wild trees and he showed her on the site plan exhibit where the trees will remain.

As there were no further questions by the public that portion was closed. As the Board did not have any more questions either Mr. Keneally asked that his witness be allowed to come forward and testify. This was acceptable to the Board so Mr. Peter Van Den Kooy came forward and was sworn in, he has a Master’s Degree in Planning and has been a Licensed Professional Planner in NJ for the last 8 years, he also holds a Certificate from the Institute of Professional Planners. He has appeared before Planning and Zoning Boards and was before this Board in 2006-2007 with Birdsall Engineering working on the Master Plan update. He now is with CME Associates as Project Manager. The Board accepted him as an expert witness.

Mr. Van Den Kooy presented an Exhibit which was marked as O-1. He said he questioned as to whether this use is “accessory” or “principal”. In his opinion, due to the size of the proposed addition, this may be considered a principal use; the mezzanine has 49 seats and this is unusual. If there are swim meets there will be busses and traffic and with the people attending this will be more than a fitness club, which is not a permitted use in this zone and may require a “D” variance. The Ordinance does not address swimming pools in the C-1A Zone as this is not a permitted use and he felt the layout was not compatible with the Master Plan for this zone. The building is pushed
back and does not meet the Main Street theme as stated in the definition of the Gateway C-1A zone.

With respect to the site layout Mr. Van Den Kooy felt the circulation on the site should be looked at, emergency vehicles may have a problem in getting to the rear of the building. If there are swim meets are at the peak hours of the Club there is going to be a concern with parking. He felt that the three uses of the Municipal Land Use Law were not being promoted namely, health, circulation and impervious coverage and he felt there may be a problem with flooding. There also is an issue with light, air and open space and this project may overbuild the site.

He also did not agree with the parking calculation and felt more was needed. If the addition were shifted closer to the front of the building there can be parking in the rear and the mechanical equipment would be farther away from residences.

Mr. Keneally asked about other variances and Mr. Van Den Kooy felt there was inadequate landscaping and buffer and there were expanding an existing non-conforming use. Mr. Langenberger asked if the mezzanine were taken out would that change his opinion and Mr. Van Den Kooy said if that were removed it would change the nature of it and would make it more fitness oriented.

Mr. McLaughlin wanted to know what non-conforming use was being expanded and Mr. Van Den Kooy admitted that was a wrong thing to say. Mr. McLaughlin then asked if swimming is a common use in a health club and the answer was yes, but he had a problem with its size and mezzanine structure. Mr. McLaughlin asked if a swim meet were held there that would make it a principal use and the answer was yes, if it becomes regular. Mr. McLaughlin said if a swim meet were to be held there it would be off hours. Did he doubt that statement? Mr. Van Den Kooy said no, but the factor to consider is that if a future owner were to come in this could change and if a meet were held during peak hours it would be a safety issue. Mr. McLaughlin felt that would be foolish on their part but Mr. Van Den Kooy felt the envelope could be pushed.

Mr. McLaughlin asked him if he was familiar with health clubs with pools of this size and the answer was no. Mr. McLaughlin asked if this is a pool than can handle a large number of meets and Mr. Van Den Kooy did not know but said it is a regulation size pool. Mr. McLaughlin said the testimony that has been given says the pool might be used occasionally for swim meets and if a limitation were made, would that be a problem? Mr. Van Den Kooy said it could function properly but could run a risk in the future.

Mr. McLaughlin then asked about the need for a landscaping variance and Mr. Van Den Kooy said the requirement is for a 50 foot buffer zone & 20% landscaping; Mr. McLaughlin said there are no properties in this zone that meet this requirement and Mr. Van Den Kooy agreed, he did not know of any that meet this criteria. Mr. McLaughlin said this location is too close to residences to meet the 50 foot buffer requirement.

Mr. Keneally asked Mr. Van Den Kooy if the pool were a one-lane lap pool would it then be an accessory use and the answer was yes. He then asked if a 6 lane pool with a diving board and mezzanine show a different use and the answer again was yes.

Mr. Sigler asked if the building were moved forward wouldn’t that make car noise behind the building which would be annoying to residences. Mr. Van Den Kooy said he did not know the acoustics but it would be more of a downtown character if it were moved closer to the street. Mr. Sigler felt the buffer would be better for the people who live nearby.

The meeting was then open to the public for questions to Mr. Van Den Kooy and Mrs. Dickerson asked about using the facility for swim practices as well as meets. Mr. Van Den Kooy said the result would be the same, these are not members and they may come in busses.

As there were no further questions, the hearing was opened for general comments. Mr. Lester Reitman of 1 Courtyard Lane came forward. He said he was not an engineer and there has been discussion about noise and there is no noise, he lives right across the street; there also is no traffic. He is getting older and has been told swimming is good and he was for the pool being put in.

Paige Morrow of 611 Locust Road then came forward and asked if anyone has ever driven past a swim club when the meet is over, such as the Atlantic Club? It doesn’t matter what time, it becomes a commotion with traffic. Will there be swim meets or not and at what times? Has anyone done a traffic assessment? She did not feel this sounded like Brielle.

Stan Dickerson of 618 Locust Road came forward. He commented that Mr. Penniplede has stated he has no contract to have any swim meets. But his concern was that a big hole is going to be dug for this pool and he was concerned with flooding on his property. He also said that if swim meets are allowed, Brick high school may have kids coming in from Brick, there may be 50-60 kids. A lot of landscaping has been put in but there has been no provision to keep it alive. The water should be piped to storm drains. He commented that the other buildings in this area were built a long time ago. He felt a small pool, 4 or 5 lanes and no mezzanine would work here but any indoor pool need mechanicals running 24 hours a day; cars will not be around 24 hours a day but the mechanicals will.

Mark Morrow of 611 Locust Road stated he is a member of the club and they are asking Mr. Penniplede to be neighborly; he said he has tried to talk to him but could not do so. Mr. Penniplede said he never got any kind of note or call on this matter and someone could stop by his office. Mr. Morrow went on to say that Mr. Keneally does not represent all in the audience but stated that no impact studies have been done and he felt there will be an impact in town. He wondered why the need for a mezzanine and why need meets; he was one of the first members of the club but this is a bigger picture.

Mr. Dickerson came forward again and said that, after the last storm, trees have come down and right now there are two trees leaning on his property. He tried calling Mr. Penniplede but go no answer, he sent a certified letter which was refused and returned but the letter sent by regular mail was not returned; he gave a copy to the Board and Mr. Pardes marked this as exhibit O-2.

Mrs. Dickerson then spoke and said she, too, is a member of the club and supported it in the past. Back in 2004 Mr. Penniplede stated that if a pool were done it would be small on be on wheels and there may also be racquetball. But now he wants to put in a 6 lane pool for the members and she felt a 4 lane would be more than adequate; this is a members-only club and she wondered if this would become a health club for outsiders as well. She found it disturbing that Resolutions can be made and then changed; the building was never painted in the nautical theme as it was supposed to and they all have chunks of fence down and nothing has been addressed to repair this is this being a good neighbor? A smaller pool would be better and some sort of agreement should be made as to water damage.

Kelly Keneally came forward and felt the building would be too close to their house, she asked that the mechanicals be put in front of the building; the current air conditioner can be heard now. She, too, referenced the 2004 Resolution and said the mechanicals were supposed to be in the front of the building and this was not done; the proposed mechanicals will need to run 24/7. She also asked about where the water will drain out of the building and stated Mr. Gilligan said the water will run to the front of the building but she wanted to know how this will happen. There is stagnant water after a rain now which sits until it evaporates. She was also concerned with cutting off the fire lane, the police can now drive behind the building but if it’s made bigger that is a concern, they are always finding beer and liquor bottles; she felt moving the building closer to the street will help a lot. She was not against a pool but wanted to see a smaller one so there will be less of a negative impact. Mr. Langenberger asked where her house was and she showed him on the site plan map.

Carl DeMarco of Locust Road came forward and told of his fence being down and going to the club twice to find out when it will be fixed. After Irene it was fixed right away but not this time and he felt it was unsafe. He cleans up 10-20 liquor bottles behind his house every Saturday morning.

As there were no more comments from the audience that portion was closed and the Board went into discussion. Mr. Langenberger was concerned with the depth of the pool and the water flow runoff. He did not want to see the back area lit up if the building is moved forward. He was also concerned with recreational use as opposed to competitive us. Mr. O’Donnell had a problem with noise issues.

Mr. Pardes stated that Mr. Keneally still has issues as to a Use Variance or not, this is a valid question and it has not been resolved. Mr. Lines said he felt it was an accessory use to the club but admitted not having looked into it in detail, this was the first he heard of this question. He did not think it was a Use Variance but an Accessory Use. Mr. Pardes said the Board has to discuss this, a Use Variance requires 6 affirmative votes and an Accessory Use is just a simple majority.

Mr. McLaughlin thought this was a jurisdictional issue the, as just stated by the Borough’s Zoning Officer Mr. Lines, this is not a Use Variance. If it is decided it is by the Board, they will have to re-notice and hold another hearing; he felt to bring it up at the 11th hour is not right. Mr. Keneally said back in March he wrote to Mr. Rubino on this matter, prior to the first hearing and he said the original notice was defective; Mr. McLaughlin disagreed at that time. Mr. Keneally said his position has not changed. He does not disagree on the pool and is a member of the club; he read the Minutes and felt everything was okay so he purchased the home in this area, he did not see an 8,000 square foot structure, 20 feet high. He has a conservation easement on his home, done to be kept from building towards the Sports Club. He appreciated Mr. Langenberger’s concern about the lighting but he would rather see lighting than a building. He now has a sense of space with an open parking lot and he also was troubled by the overuse of the building; he would prefer the Police being able to drive around the structure.

Mr. McLaughlin referred to that March letter written and said that Mr. Rubino did not feel this was a Use Variance application, agreeing with the Zoning Officer. There are reasons for where the building is and parking should be in front and not behind the building. He wanted to look at the practical side, this is a Commercial Zone and this building could be a lot of things it was a supermarket which was more of an intense use. Mr. Penniplede is not the owner of this property, he is a tenant. The landlord is addressing the insurance companies regarding the fencing. This meets the 50 foot buffer criteria, as it was approved, and in his view it does not require a variance because the addition conforms; this has been argued and they did the proper notices for variances. They do not need more parking and, with respect to the recalculation of parking, the use states what the parking requirement is. They have done everything they can to minimize any impact and they think the building should stay as proposed. They have testified that drainage will be taken care of and, if there is a problem, it will be addressed.

Mr. Penniplede has been a good tenant to the Borough; a retail center would have far more impact to residents. The reason for submission of the Minutes was discussion of a future pool being put in talked about back in 2004. The neighbors are concerned with something that it would not make sense for Mr. Penniplede to do, if there are any swim meets they will be very few. One does not add a swimming pool and then drive away members. This is not a wading pool but is of a type that is found at large health clubs. This conforms to the use of the Commercial Zone and the Board, back in 2004, said that the “Board finds the project to be beneficial and conforms to the site plan improvements”….this addition does the same and will serve the Borough and its residents. He closed by thanking the Board for their time.

Mayor Nicol wanted to know what would happen if he, as Mayor, voted on this and it gets appealed back to the Council. Mr. Pardes said if he didn’t vote it takes that issue out, but the Board still has to determine if this is a Use Variance or not. Is this an accessory or principal use, the Board has to discuss this. With regards to the notice issue from March as per Mr. Keneally’s letter, Mr. Pardes had reviewed all and did not see a deficiency in the notice as written and, if the Board does decide it is a Use Variance they can vote.

Mr. Stenson saw this as an Accessory Use but Mr. O’Donnell disagreed as it will have a mezzanine. Mr. Stenson said it’s only a small balcony holding only 49 people. Mrs. Murdoch also felt it was an Accessory Use and did not see a heavy use at all times, it was not a Use Variance. Mr. Sigler agreed but he was concerned with the mechanicals. Mr. Stango asked if the mechanicals be inside and Mr. McLaughlin said yes, but the air conditioner is outside. Mr. Stango said he had no problem with the mezzanine but saw this as a Use Variance and Mr. Langenberger felt it was an Accessory Use only. Mr. Pardes tallied this and said it is 4 to 2 that it is an Accessory use and not a Use Variance.

Mr. Pardes told Mayor Nicol that he could vote as the Board has determined this to be an Accessory Use only. Of course, it can go to Superior Court and they can say it’s a Use Variance and, in that case, all votes would be overturned anyway.

Mr. McLaughlin then told the Board that he has conferred with Mr. Penniplede and they have decided to withdraw the mezzanine, this was the architect’s idea and they went with it.

Mr. Langenberger still was concerned with the depth of the pool and felt it was more of a competitive pool, he felt the pool idea was terrific but not sure if it right for this health club. He was glad to see the mezzanine taken off but still was concerned with the mechanicals. Mr. Stango appreciated the mezzanine being taken away and was okay with the application. Mr. Stenson felt that taking away the mezzanine eliminates the swim meet concept and he was in favor of the application. Mayor Nicol agreed with the mezzanine removal but also was concerned about the mechanicals on top. He did not have a problem with the size of the pool but wondered about drainage; he would like to see the applicant be responsible for all drainage. If the mechanicals can be moved he would be in favor of this. Mr. Sigler agreed and suggested moving the mechanicals forward, with changes he would be in favor. Mrs. Murdoch also liked the removal of the mezzanine, she felt that changes things. If this is approved, she would like to have a definition of “peak time” in the Resolution.

Mr. Pardes said that can be done but wanted to know if the Board wanted to vote on all these changes tonight. Mr. Stenson asked Mr. McLaughlin if the modifications can be made to the plans and then they come back. Mr. McLaughlin said the Resolution can read the mechanicals be moved as far forward as possible, but the Mayor thought that wording was a “slippery slope”. Mr. McLaughlin then offered to carry this hearing so they can come back with revised plans addressing the removal of the mezzanine and the Board’s comments, they also will address the “peak times” question. They also will look at the pool depth concerns. Mayor Nicol asked if this pool will have a diving board and was told no, it will be a diving platform, the pool goes from a depth of 4 feet to a depth of 10 feet.

At this time the Mr. Stenson announced that this hearing will be carried to the February 12th, 2013 meeting to give the applicants time to revise the plans; no further notice will be given.

As there was no further business to come before the Board, a motion was made by Mr. Stenson to adjourn, this seconded by Mrs. Murdoch and approved unanimously by the Board, all aye. The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 pm.

Karen S. Brisben, Recording Secretary