A Community by the River

Borough of Brielle, NJ

September 10th, 2013

December 06 2013

September 10th, 2013


The Regular meeting of the Brielle Planning Board was held on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 7:30 pm in the Brielle Borough Halt, 601 Union Lane. After a moment of silent prayer and a salute to the flag, roll call was taken:

Present -- Mayor Thomas Nicol, Councilman Frank Garruzzo, Thomas Condon, Gina Murdoch, Charles Sarnasi, Tim Sigler, James Stenson

Absent -- James Langenberger, John O'Donnell, Terri Vitale

Also present was Karen S. Brisben, Recording Secretary, Michael Rubino, Board Attorney and Alan Hilla, Jr., Board Engineer. The meeting room was packed to overflowing with people out in the lobby and down the hallway.

Chairman Condon 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 13, 2013 meeting were approved on a motion by Councilman Garruzzo, seconded by Mayor Nicol and approved unanimously by.voice vote, all aye.


As there was no correspondence or Old Business, the Board turned to the variance application for Block 78.02, Lot 13, 416 Higgins Avenue, owned 416 Higgins Avenue, LLC (site of Eloise's Cafe) to allow continuation of parking deficiencies for combined restaurant and retail food establishment. Before the hearing started Councilman Garruzzo recused himself due to a conflict of interest. The proper fees were paid, taxes are paid to date and property owners within 200 feet as well as the newspaper were properly noticed.

Mr. Rubino started by speaking on another issue with this application. Mr. Hilla, in his report of 916113, raises the question of the restaurant use as being non¬conforming thus making this a Use Variance. He had conversations with Mr. Hilla on this and had a discussion on the fact that the non-conforming use is not being expanded and, therefore, may not apply. However, since this includes parking for this use it may be considered a Use Variance and the Mayor can't sit on a Use Variance. So the questions comes up "is it a Use Variance or not?" The notice that was published and sent to all owners within 200 feet states "any & all other variances" so the matter can proceed tonight once a decision is made.

Mr. Patrick Accisano, Esq., the attorney representing Eloise's Cafe, came forward and said his initial notice went along with the original Notice of Violation from the Code Enforcement, Mr. Langenberger and after that was done Mr. Hilla's report came in. He said this establishment has beenthis way for a very long time, the outdoor seating has fluctuated during the years but it was never expanded. Mr. Rubino felt the point is jurisdictional, is this a Use Variance or not? Mr. Accisano felt that if the Board wanted to be on the side of caution that is okay, they are here tonight and not asking for any waiver of rights. At this point Mayor Nicol stepped down off the dais.

Mr. Accisano then proceeded with the application; they are here for Eloise Knight who runs Eloise's Cafe in the C-1 Commercial Zone; the Cafe does have a second story apartment. In June of this, year they were notified there is a parking deficiency and Mr. Hilla asked for a Site Plan submission.. He also asked for a number of waivers for the restaurant plan, he had answered several of the questions asked by Mr. Hilla.

At this time Eloise Knight was sworn in, she now lives with friends as she lost everything in Superstorm Sandy and she asked that she be. allowed to use the Cafe address, 416 Higgins Avenue: She-said they sell breakfast and lunch, all food and- no retail and she opened in 1999 -- her licenses have always been kept up to date_ She opens from 6 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sundays closes at 3:00 p.m. She has 9 employees, 5 full time.and 4 part time, they are naafi there at thesame time; about half drive and the rest walk or bike to work. Mr Accisano said if the lot is. full where do they park and the answer was they have always shared parking with Due Amici, the restaurant next door. She said a lot of patrons walk over or ride bikes, she did not have numbers but she never had a complaint about the parking.

Mr. Accisano- said the: lot is fully developed and, as Mr. Hilla had requested a sketch of the interior they submitted- pictures which are included in the application packet. At this time Mr. Rubino marked as Exhibit A-1 a Site Plan done by Maser Consultants which is colored in. He asked what the-area in purple was on the plan. Eloise said when you walk in the front door there are tables in the- maim dining room, 8. tables on the left; she then got confused explaining the layout and Mr. Rubino suggested taking a few minutes to figure it out (She did not feel well but wanted to come to the hearing tonight and testify). She then came forward again and said the main dining room has 32 seats with 5 tables for 4,. one table for .6 and 3 tables for 2; the Coffee Room has 12 chairs. and 4 bar stools, 2 tables for 2, 1. table for 4 and a counter
with 4 stools. There is another area with a coffee machine & deli counter with a deli case; no sitting area.

At this time Mr. Accisano asked for another 5 minutes to confer with his client and it. was granted, from 8:05 to 8:10 p.m When they came back Mr.. Accisano wanted the Board to know their Engineer could not be present this evening but will be here next month. Eloise then went on with the layout details - there is no sitting area in the kitchen or in the little room where they make salads & food, no customers here. This layout has been in effect since they moved in and she stated this was a restaurant when they moved in, it was Costano's. When they opened they used the same tables and had a CO issued by Borough Official Sandy Ratz who went over the premises and commented on how well they cleaned this up, this was back in 1999. This brought up the question of having COs issued to commercial establishments and the town does not issue COs to commercial businesses.

Mr. Accisano then addressed the "speckled area" on the plan, the outside eating area and Eloise said there are 6 metal tables, the number of tables used varies depending on the time of the year but the most would be 16 seats in use; she has never had a problem with this and this outside dining area was there when she moved in, however, she did stated she moved there in November and did not remember if the tables were out then, but Mr. Ratz assured her there would be no problem once the weather got warmer.

Mr. Accisano presented three photos to the Board, which were marked as Exhibit A-2, showing the outside dining area. He said he hoped the Board would allow this use to continue and offered to put in pipe bollards if necessary for safety. Eloise said there were 8 parking spaces and one is handicapped, the plans show 6 spaces with parking on the side. There also are 3 spaces in the rear, there is a garage but that is not being used. Mr. Rubino asked where the upstairs tenant parks and Mr. Accisano said he does not own a car and works at Eloise's. Mr. Accisano said the total number of spaces are 11, without the garage are 9 and 17 are required. If they took out the entryway they can get another space, the worst case would be 20 spaces required and they would need a waiver for 9 spaces. They have a lease with the restaurant owner for 10 spaces if needed and they pay a monthly fee for this use.

Mr. Rubino then asked how many spaces on the property owned by the restaurant owners, the Garruzzos and, as there was not an answer known, he asked for a simple plan so the Board can see the number of spaces. Mr. Condon elaborated and said they would like to see what is required for his tenants, they did not want to have to guess. Mr. Accisano repeated this has been in place for a long time and they ask for it to continue. Mr. Rubino noted this includes property across the street that the Garruzzos' own, it's not all at the restaurant site. Mr. Hilla said they need an inventory of the uses and spaces to make sure all is okay, they don't need anything fancy. Mr. Rubino summed it up by stating they need to know how big the buildings are, what is in them as it is a mixed use; they just want to know if 10 spaces are available.

Mr. Accisano agreed to this, but then said he has found out Mr. Kenderian, the owner and Engineer, may not be available next month and asked if the hearing can be adjourned to October and if the Engineer can't make that then postpone it-to November, he will resendout public notices, this was agreeable to the. Board.

The announcement was then made that this hearing will continue:on Tuesday, . October 8, at 7:30 p.m. and if the Engineer for the applicant can't be present then the hearing will continue.on Tuesday, November 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Before adjourning, Mrs. Brisben wanted to note it in the record that she distributed a letter from the Dickersons on Locust Road regarding the. ongoing fence issue with the Brielle Sports Club
As there was no further business to come before the Board a motion was made by Mr. Stenson to adjourn, this seconded by Mr. Sigler and approved-unanimously by the Board, all aye. The meeting was adjourned. at 8:26 pm: