Borough of Brielle, NJ
| June 9, 2015
June 9th, 2015
|BRIELLE PLANNING BOARD
TUESDAY, JUNE 9, 2015
The Regular meeting of the Brielle Planning Board was held on Tuesday, June 9, 2015 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, Thomas Condon, James Langenberger,
Stacey Montalto, John O’Donnell, Charles Sarnasi, James
Stenson, Terre Vitale
Absent Councilman Frank Garruzzo, Tim Sigler
Also present was Karen S. Brisben, Recording Secretary, Joe Clark, Esq., Board Attorney and Board Engineer Alan Hilla Jr. from Avakian Engineering. There were approximately 40 people in the audience.
Mr. 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.
New Board member Stacey Montalto was sworn in at this time, becoming Alternate Member #1 to replace Gina Murdoch who had resigned.
The Minutes of the May 12, 2015 meeting were approved on a motion by Mr. Langenberger, seconded by Mrs. Vitale and approved by voice vote, all aye.
A letter of resignation was received from Board member Gina Murdoch, who resigned due to her work schedule; the Board accepted her resignation with regret.
The Board turned to the continuation of a hearing for application for Minor Subdivision to create three lots for Block 61, Lots 6.01, 6.02 & 6.03, known as 22 Crescent Drive and owned by Michael Centrella.
Before starting the hearing, Mr. Clark asked Mr. Henderson, the attorney for Mr. Centrella, if he had any new testimony to present and the answer was no. Mr. Clark then made the statement that no new testimony will be heard this evening as the public portion was closed.
Mr. Condon then turned to Mr. Liston, attorney for opposing neighbors, and told him the public portion of this hearing was closed and no further testimony will be heard. It will be open to the public now for comments only and anyone can speak then. Mr. Liston countered that if the public can speak it is testimony and Mr. Condon argued that it isn’t. The public can make comments on the testimony that was given. Mr. Liston said he had brought a Planner tonight who can testify as he is a resident of Brielle. Mr. Condon said that the Board is asking that each person speak for 3 minutes only so everyone who wishes can make a comment. Mr. Liston asked for more than 3 minutes for his Planner.
Mayor Nicol felt this is gray area but all the testimony had been given and that portion of this hearing was closed; Mr. Clark agreed. The public can make comments at this time. Mr. Liston then asked that charts he had brought with him be marked and Mayor Nicol again said there is no more testimony. Mr. Liston felt that the neighbors who had hired him were being denied their right to present their case and this is a denial of their Constitutional rights. He would like to have Mr. Thomas testify and said this is going to appeal either way this vote goes; he felt Mr. Thomas has to be listened to. Mayor Nicol again stated the testimony is closed, all the neighbors were noticed and he recalled that there was an attorney here for those people objecting but he did not speak at the time of testimony; he chose not to. The Board gave him ample opportunity to come forward at that time; now is the time for comments only.
Mr. Liston asked if that attorney had expert witnesses and Mr. Condon said he had the opportunity to speak at the time of the application hearing. Mr. Liston felt this was a waste of time and there will be an appeal. He asked for a vote on objector testimony, if it can be heard or not. Mr. Henderson spoke and said the attorney who was here at the time of the initial hearing introduced himself to him as representing objectors, he was from the Starkey Firm.
At this time Mr. Clark asked for a vote as to whether the hearing should be re-opened for further testimony. Mr. Langenberger made a motion to allow public comment only, this seconded by Mr. Stenson and approved by the following roll call vote:
Ayes: Mayor Thomas Nicol, Thomas Condon, James Langenberger, John
O’Donnell, Charles Sarnasi, James Stenson, Terri Vitale
Not Eligible to Vote: Stacey Montalto
The Board then opened this hearing for comments only from the public. Mr. Andrew Thomas came forward and was sworn in. Before anything further, Mr. Liston came forward to ask him questions and Mr. Condon interrupted him and told him he can’t. Mr. Thomas then proceeded to say he did research going back to 1918 which showed this property as two lots. He plotted all the double lots on Crescent greater than 100 feet in width and found that all 4 corner lots are greater than code. Crescent Drive favors oversized lots and all the corners are oversized. This proposed corner lot would be one-half the size of all the corner lots here. The Ordinance said that all side lot lines shall be radial to the roadway and this does not work here, but with two lots it does work. If you look at the building envelope the proposed house would have to be set in the back corner and this is not consistent with Crescent Drive. Mr. Hilla’s report stated that Donnelly Place is not the right width and the lot is pie shape at the corner.
He summed up by saying that:
1. The Subdivision is not consistent and this property has always been two lots.
2. The majority of the lots are oversized.
3. A 3-lot subdivision with variances is not consistent with the rest of the homes.
4. It is not aesthetically pleasing.
5. Two conforming lots can be created.
6. The variances should not be granted and this will be out of character.
7. This subdivision does not promote general welfare.
Next to be sworn in and comment was Joe Natoli of 2 Crescent Drive. It pained him to see the controversy here in this neighborhood, all are good neighbors. If this were a slight hardship they wouldn’t even be here, this is just for a benefit to the person who wants to make money and is a slap in the face for the neighbors. It should not be granted and will hurt the good people of Crescent Drive.
Next to come forward and be sworn in was Kathy Kelly of 18 Crescent Drive. Her family has lived here for over 40 years and she has no objection to this subdivision, she lives right next door. She also had two letters from other neighbors who have no objection but Mr. Condon told her they can’t be submitted.
Next to speak and be sworn in was Anthony Knapp of 16 Crescent Drive, who has lived there for 21 years. He felt creating a middle lot was not in keeping with the neighborhood, not good planning and was not good for the neighbors. It will be a detriment and is not in keeping with the Municipal Land Use Law; this will benefit only one person.
The next person to come forward and be sworn was Brian Kimmins of 8 Crescent Drive, who moved here in 1982 and was a graduate of Brielle School. There are a lot of residents here this evening as they were outside the 200 foot radius for notification, so they hired Mr. Liston. This subdivision is based on square footage and, while that is okay, the space doesn’t work out and there is an obvious safety issue here with Donnelly Place as now this will be a blind corner. He said Donnelly Place issues have been before Council before and he felt this subdivision will not fit into the neighborhood. He asked the Planning Board to please take into consideration the neighbors.
Donald Cresitello of 202 Perry Place came forward and was sworn in. He had no objection with this, he rides his bike on Crescent Drive and does not see any detriment to the neighborhood.
Steven Hegna of 4 Crescent Drive then came forward and was sworn in. He is part owner of 23 Crescent Drive as well. He said the neighbors concerns regarding Donnelly Place had been addressed by Council and there is another concern with parking, it overflows onto Crescent Drive and he did not want to see 3 homes on these lots.
Peter Petrocko of 7 Crescent Drive said he agreed with all the previous statements and did not see a reason to repeat them.
As there were no more public comments that portion of the hearing was closed and the Board went into discussion. Mr. Langenberger said the whole parcel is irregular and he would be in favor of the subdivision; Mr. Stenson agreed with him. Mr. O’Donnell was not in favor of this application, as well as Mrs. Vitale; Mr. Sarnasi felt the Donnelly Place lot was the problem and he was okay with the other two lots. Mayor Nicol was okay with the subdivision and Mr. Condon said he originally thought 3 lots were too many but, after the testimony, found that if they make conforming lots it would be less attractive so he was now in favor.
As there was no further discussion a motion was made by Mr. Stenson to approve this application, this seconded by Mr. Langenberger and approved by the following roll call vote:
Ayes: Mayor Thomas Nicol, Thomas Condon, James Langenberger, Charles
Sarnasi, James Stenson
Noes: John O’Donnell, Terre Vitale
Not Eligible to Vote: Stacey Montalto
The Board then considered an application for a Site Plan/Use Variance for Block 33.01, Lot 1, 110 Union Avenue, owned by Rella Union, LLC, to allow a modification to the parking area and to allow an outdoor dining patio. Additional seating area constitutes an expansion of non-conforming use; 96 parking spaces are required 86 are proposed. Other existing & proposed variances are outlined in the Engineer’s report.
The application fees were paid, taxes are paid to date and the property owners within 200 feet as well as the newspaper were properly notified. Before starting this hearing, Mayor Nicol had to step off the dais as he was not eligible to hear a Use Variance.
Mr. John Jackson, Esq. came forward for brothers Sam and Sal Chiarella who own Rella’s Italian Tavern on Highway 71. He said this establishment has been there since 2009 and the brothers have now purchased the property. They are seeking an outdoor seating area as they feel they are losing business in the summer due to not having outdoor seating; they want to be competitive in this business. This is a “D” Variance for use as part of the property is in a Residential Zone, this parcel is in a split zone. There will be no changes or additions on this property.
At this time Mr. John Vincenti came forward and was sworn in, he is a Licensed Professional Engineer and Planner in New Jersey and has been since 1988. He has testified before numerous Boards in the area and has also represented Boards in Old Bridge and Middlesex County. The Board accepted him as an expert witness.
He said this property is along Route 71 and is ½ acre in size, the northwest portion is in the C-1 Zone and a portion of the tail end of the parking lot is in the R-3 Residential Zone, it cuts across the lot in a northeast fashion and there will be no changes in this R-3 Residential Zone. The restaurant is 8,795 square feet and has 80 parking spaces. They want to add two outdoor sections, a total of 811 square feet which will be to the left and right of the entrance canopy; there will be seating for 30 patrons. They plan to put in a masonry wall with decorative lighting and upgrade the parking lot in the north end; they also will repave and reconfigure the parking lot which will increase the parking from 80 spaces to 86 spaces. The Borough Ordinance requires one space for each 100 square feet, so 96 spaces are needed and they are providing 86, they are 10 spaces short.
He said is 1,000 square feet of impervious surface here and, after they configure the parking and put in a green area in the lot, they will be reducing the impervious surface. He said the 2006 Update to the Brielle Master Plan has a recommendation that indicates instances where land use patterns are inconsistent with the zoning map and one of the areas is this one, it is Exhibit “C” in that update and states the R-3 zone should be made into the C-1 zone. Also, there is an existing home that fronts on Magnolia Avenue that now is in the C-1 zone and that should be made part to the R-3 zone, zoning lines should follow lot lines. Mr. Jackson asked Mr. Vincenti if this expansion of Rella’s is suited for this area and the answer was yes, this area is all commercial and this site has been a restaurant for decades.
He also stated this outdoor seating area will only be used during the summer months, off season the use will be as it is now. There are a fair amount of patrons who walk, ride bikes or take a taxi here so he felt this expansion was appropriate.
Mr. Jackson asked him about landscaping and Mr. Vincenti said right now the lot is non-conforming along Route 71 and Magnolia Avenue, they cannot fully comply but they are going to put in landscaping in the center of the lot and in the corners; he felt this is a good balance. Mr. Jackson asked him about the handicapped spaces and Mr. Vincenti said there will be four handicapped parking spaces and this will be verified by the Fire Official; he said the changes will improve the conditions of the existing parking lot. As part of the masonry wall screening, they are planning on lantern fixtures such as the ones that are typical to front door entries to illuminate the front entry way. The changes will also help pulling out onto Route 71 and the north/south driveway will be one way out. There is a depressed curb on Route 71 that they can’t do anything about but they will have curb stops put there.
Mr. Jackson referred to the Board Engineer’s report where there is mention of the original Resolution which will allow an office building to be built here. He said they still want to have that option and will remove the outdoor seating if that happens. Mr. Vincenti commented that this restaurant is keeping in conformity with the other restaurants in the area and the parking lot here has more spaces than some of the other restaurants. Mr. Vincenti said this is a Minor Site Plan as it is less than 2,000 square feet of area. Mr. Jackson said the Governing Body has strict rules on these restaurants and liquor licenses and it gets managed by them every year when the liquor licenses come up for renewal.
Mr. Vincenti felt this application can be approved as it is going along with the Master Plan and the outdoor café enhances this. There is no detriment to the Municipal Land Use Law, they are not introducing any other use than what is there now and this patio dining is furthest away from the residences here. Mr. Hilla asked about the height of the lighting on the pillars and was it less than 5 feet. Mr. Vincenti said the pillars are 3 feet high and the lanterns will be about a foot high. Mr. Hilla felt this will be at driver’s level and Mr. Vincenti said they can put shields on the lanterns and raise them from the pillars. Mr. Hilla felt that being at eye height may be a problem, he would like to see something above the driver’s height. Mr. Jackson offered to do a revised plan to show this and Mr. Hilla said okay. Mr. Hilla then asked about the limits of paving and what will happen to the parking lot. Mr. Vincenti said they will patch and then overlay and he can clarify this on the plans.
Mrs. Vitale didn’t have any questions and Mr. Sarnasi asked about lot drainage. Mr. Vincenti said some areas collect water, they did have a drain to Route 71 or Magnolia Avenue at one time and this will be done again. Mr. Hilla commented they are removing impervious surface in the parking lot and this should help the drainage. Mr. Sarnasi said he liked the outdoor seating but people will be driving in right by where the outdoor seating will be; is the wall to be built a certain strength? Mr. Vincenti said that is one of the reasons for the masonry wall and the neck of the driveway will be wider once it is delineated. If they have to beef up the structure they will, they can put in bollards. Mr. Sarnasi asked if there will be outside speakers or music and Mr. Jackson said Mr. Chiarella will testify that there will be no music or speakers. Ms. Montalto did not have any questions at this time and Mr. Langenberger said he was okay with the outdoor seating but would like to have it in writing there will be no outdoor speakers and Mr. Jackson was agreeable to this. Mr. Langenberger was also concerned about people seated outside with the handicapped spaces across from the masonry wall, he could see a problem with people backing out here. Mr. Vincenti said they can construct the wall with rebar and Mr. Hilla felt that would be good; Mr. Langenberger offered that maybe bollards could be in the wall. He then asked about the Fire Zone being wrapped around to the back and Mr. Vincenti said okay, Mr. Langenberger felt more is better. He stated he has heard complaints on the fencing along the residential lots and asked if they can fix the fence is there is a problem. Mr. Jackson said his clients have been only tenants but now they are the owners and are trying to fix things up.
Mr. Stenson confirmed that the parking is still 10 spaces short and Mr. Vincenti said yes. Mr. Stenson then referred to the plan and the area shown in green, will that be paved? Mr. Vincenti said no, it will not. Mr. Condon questioned the 40 foot buffer and Mr. Hilla explained the Commercial to Residential buffer is 50 feet and this was probably meant to try to achieve this, this buffer is more than other businesses have in this area.
As there were no further questions from the Board the hearing was opened to the public for questions to Mr. Vincenti only. Mrs. Terry Denniston of 531 Magnolia Avenue came forward and was sworn in, her home is right next door to the restaurant parking lot. She asked about curbing being put in and Mr. Vincenti said it will be in the area of the outdoor seating. She then asked “so no curbing in the parking lot?” and Mr. Vincenti answered no, water will get trapped if they put in curbing. Mrs. Denniston said there used to be curbing but it deteriorated and she wanted to know what will stop people from driving onto the street as they do now, right now there is just stone there. Mr. Vincenti said there will be curb stops in front of each spot and the landscaping will also help as there are no curb stops there. They can put more curb stops if needed. Mrs. Denniston asked if the dumpster is going to stay where it is and the answer was yes.
The next person to come forward and be sworn in was Karen Henning Davis whose father lives at 533 Fisk Avenue. Mr. Clark said she can’t speak for her father but did she have an interest in the property and she said she was part owner. Mr. Clark said she can testify for herself then. She said people park on Fisk Avenue and if the parking is not sufficient as it doesn’t meet the required number of spaces then a parking study should be done. Mr. Jackson explained the parking is based on the Ordinance and that is how they got their figures, there was no parking study done. As far as parking on the street, that is for Council and not the Planning Board, the restaurant has no control over parking on a public street. Ms. Davis said that pine trees that were planted there for the buffer for the residences have been cut and Mr. Chairella spoke up and said they had to be cut back for sidewalk access. Ms. Davis then asked about the C-1 zone area on Magnolia and Mr. Vincenti said it goes between lots 2 and 3, the Restaurant itself is in the C-1 zone. Mr. Jackson explained the C-1 and R-3 zones and the need for a Use Variance; Ms. Davis asked why they are asking for an expansion variance and Mr. Jackson said it is the law.
Next to come forward and be sworn in was Jim Denniston of 531 Magnolia Avenue who asked about the egresses, he said it’s so pitched its gouged in the middle will there be one way out? Mr. Jackson said this is not part of the application but there is a one way through driveway to Magnolia and it will be re-graded. Mr. Langenberger noted that at Allure Restaurant down the street there is an exit sign on the Bradley Avenue side. If a “No Right Turn” were to be put on the sign here it would put traffic onto Highway 71; Mr. Jackson was okay with this and said it would be no problem to do.
As there were no further questions to be asked, that portion of the hearing was closed. Next to be sworn in was Sam Chiarella of 619 Valley Road in Brielle, he is one of the owners of Rella’s. He told the Board he and his brother took possession of this property, through a lease, in 2009 and then purchased the property last year. This is a family oriented restaurant with a bar and they have had no problems with the bar. They seek outdoor dining and felt it would be good for the town so people can stay local and eat outside. Rella’s is a year around establishment and people ride their bikes or walk here to eat. A lot of their clientele is from Manasquan and Brielle and said they are busier in the off season, business decreases in the summer. He would like a place where people can come in and have pizzas and beer outside; this is not a late night place, they open at 3:00 p.m. and close at 12-12:30 during the week and 1-1:30 on the weekends. He would close the patio at 11:00 p.m. Weather permitting, he would have the seating hostess outdoors to accommodate those who want to eat inside or outside.
Mr. Stenson asked about the speakers and Mr. Chiarella said there not be any but he would like to put a TV out there for Sunday games. Mr. Hilla asked him how the improvements were going to be installed, if he puts in the patio seating is he going to do the parking lot, too? He did not want to see the patio and then the parking being put in at a later time. Mr. Chiarella understood the question but said he has not thought that part through as yet.
As there were no further questions from the Board the hearing was opened to the public for questions to Mr. Chiarella. Ms. David came forward again and asked what decibels the speakers on the inside were as they will be heard when the sliders to the outside are opened and Mr. Chiarella said he did not know. Ms. Davis felt a study was needed on that. She then asked about the hours and Mr. Chiarella said they close by 12:00 on weekdays and 1:00 on weekends. Ms. Davis asked if there will be propane heaters outside for the patrons and the answer was no. She then asked if there will be volume on the TV and the answer was yes. She asked if they have a catered event do they have a parking problem and Mr. Chiarella said no. She then asked about the parking spaces being reduced and Mr. Condon spoke and explained to her they are required to have 96 spaces and now they have only 80; they are going to increase the spaces to 86. Ms. Davis noted that 4 of the 86 spaces will be for handicapped parking and people can’t park there. Mr. Condon said the Board has taken that into consideration.
As there were no more questions of Mr. Chairella the Board opened the hearing to the public for general comments. Mrs. Denniston came forward again and said she has no objection and they are not bad neighbors and she has seen them working on improvements. Her concern is after the outside dining is done will drinks be served out there? On game days she hears screaming and cursing and does not want that part of the restaurant spilling outside. Her concern is the bar crowd and she felt putting a TV outside is not family dining, she can hear the live bands when the doors are closed and does not want to hear that if the doors are opened.
Next to come forward and be sworn in was Jean Ricelli of 526 Fisk Avenue, 3 doors away. She hears loud customers and the dumping of trashcans. She felt this additional dining will change their life at home and they do not want to hear a bar next to her. She said they have been through a gambit of restaurants but this one is too much, they live on a busy street and this addition will be too much.
The next person to be sworn in and speak was Janice Ricelli of 528 Fisk Avenue. She has lived here for 60 years and through 5 restaurants and felt this one is out of whack. She did not want to see the buffer changed to a commercial one, she has seen them blowing their garbage down Fisk Avenue and it’s not fair.
Pat Trezza of 530 Fisk Avenue then came forward and was sworn in. She has spent the last year redoing her home, she has had it since 1984, and up to a year ago she had no problem with the restaurant. There are things that have occurred, a garbage dumpster that was moved to the back by her house, but she never said anything about it; there is a smell, especially after a long weekend. She wanted to know what this is going to do to her property values with open seating outside. She felt it was noisy and disruptive to the residents on Magnolia and Fisk.
Karen Hennings Davis came forward again and said she has lived at 533 Fisk Avenue since 1953, she remembered Bar Casablanca, Dodd’s Brielle; she saw problems with patrons and she can see this happening again. She, too, smells garbage in the summer. They are now owners and the residents are also owners, they should be able to live in peace and quiet. She again stated a parking study should be done for Fisk Avenue. She said they have a thriving business and they do not need outdoor seating, she felt they cut the trees back so people can see their restaurant.
Janice Ricelli came forward again and said the neighbors spoke up about Bar Casablanca and this is why Fisk Avenue has parking on one side only.
Jim Denniston again spoke and said he had concerns on the parking spaces. On Magnolia Avenue there is parking also and he asked if there can be a restriction on parking on the streets. Mr. Condon told him that is something that has to be addressed at a Council meeting, it is out of the Planning Board’s jurisdiction. He reminded all that they are adding parking spaces, they are not reducing parking spaces. Mr. Denniston countered with the fact they need 96 spaces and they are asking for 86. He felt they should be required to have the 96 spaces.
As there were no more comments to be made that portion of the hearing was closed and Mr. Jackson came forward to sum up the application. He said the Municipal Land Use Law sets forth the purpose which is to provide for different things to meet the needs of the citizens. He thought that everyone in this room has had outside dining and the reality of this is that there will be very little impact on Rella’s as it’s not on an ocean or bay; it will be very unlikely to have both the inside and outside filled. They are increasing the amount of parking spaces, the building acts as a buffer for Fisk Avenue and it is very unlikely anyone will hear conversations going on outside. The police are nearby and Council approves the liquor license here every year. He considers this to be an amenity for the neighborhood.
The Board then went into discussion. Mrs. Vitale asked if they will be willing to keep the doors closed when there is live music and Mr. Chiarella said yes, but they will have to open the doors from time to time for service to the outdoor patrons. Mr. Sarnasi felt the outside dining area should be closed at a certain time and he did not want partiers to be able to sit and drink outside. There should be a time to close this area and not have just drinking. Mr. Chiarella did not feel this will be a problem and said they cut back on bands in the summer and only have one every two weeks. Mr. Sarnasi asked about the time to close the outside dining and Mr. Chiarella said he had asked for an 11:00 pm closing. Mr. Langenberger felt that 11:00 p.m. was fair and should be put in the Resolution, as well as the stipulation that there be no outside speakers and no right turn onto Magnolia Avenue. He agreed with Mr. Hilla that both the outside dining and parking lot changes should be done together. Mr. Stenson asked when they proposed to do this work, maybe in August? Mr. Chiarella did not know but said he would need more time than that. Mr. Hilla suggested that the parking lot be done within 30 days of opening the patio.
Mr. Langenberger felt that no awnings should be over the seating, there should be no outside covering of the area. Mrs. Vitale asked about having umbrellas and Mr. Langenberger said he had no problem with umbrellas an awning, to him, makes an enclosure. Mrs. Vitale asked about an awning without sides? She felt they should be able to have an awning. Mr. Chiarella did not think people will want to sit outside without a covering. Mr. Stenson felt there should be no screening or side awnings and the hours should be restricted to 11:00 p.m. He asked if there was any way to move the trash bins and Mr. Chiarella said yes, no problem.
Mr. O’Donnell liked the idea of a reinforced wall and was okay with an 11:00 p.m. closing. Mr. Langenberger then addressed the audience and told them if there is any problem with smells from the dumpsters to call the Monmouth County Health Department, they will do an inquiry. Mr. Condon did not think there will be a parking problem and he did not have a problem with a TV as long as it went off after the games are over. The owners should address any fencing problems.
At this time Mr. Langenberger made a motion to approve this application with the stipulations as noted, this seconded by Mr. Stenson. Before the vote Mr. Condon said they can have an awning but no sides to it. The application was approved on the following roll call vote:
Ayes: Thomas Condon, James Langenberger, Stacey Montalto, John
O’Donnell, Charles Sarnasi, James Stenson, Terre Vitale
The last hearing of the evening was an application for Site Plan/Use Variance for Block 66.01, Lot 5, 715 Union Avenue, owned by 715 Union Avenue, LLC, to allow interior alterations to a multifamily building, relocate existing trailers, create laundry facilities, parking lot improvements. Details of the variances are outlined in the Engineer’s report.
The proper fees were paid, taxes are paid to date and the property owners & newspaper were properly notified. Mr. Christopher Hanlon, Esq. came forward to present the application. He told the Board they are before them for two reasons: 1) the new owner’s intent is to continue the non-conforming use here, this use goes back to 1986, and 2) he wants to make improvements and tweak the site plan. The building in the rear was designed for 9 motel units and he wants to make this into 5 apartment units this can be treated as expansion of a non-conforming use here so they need a Use Variance.
The property had 19 trailers on site and there will be no changes for that number but they will replace the trailers with nicer units that will comply with the HUD code. There is one building on site with 5 efficiency units and there will be no changes here. The residential unit also will have no change, just aesthetic improvements.
At this time Mr. Jason Fichter came forward to be sworn in and testify, he is a Civil Engineer and co-founder of In-Site Engineering. He has appeared before this Board and others in the area; he is a licensed Planner and Engineer in New Jersey. The Board accepted him as an expert witness.
He had 3 exhibits which were marked as P-1, P-2 & P-3. Exhibit P-1 was a color rendering of the site plan & survey & part of 1986 Resolution. Exhibit P-2 were photos of the site and area, 4 of them of the property itself. Exhibit P-3 were 8x11 handouts, photos taken from the company that will provide the new mobile homes. He said this site is in the C-1A Gateway Zone. In 1986 there was a Resolution approving 35 units, which consisted of 19 trailers, a 7 unit building and a 9 unit motel building as well as an office and this property existed this way for a long time. They do want to add washers & dryers to the utility building, they are not changing the layouts, just aesthetic changes.
The Ordinance does not have a standard for trailers and if they use the parking spaces required for residential use they will need 60 spaces and 9 are proposed as well as one handicapped space. They have the existing approval from 1986 on this but can work with the Board on this issue. Along Higgins Avenue Lots 3, 4 & 6 have a side that is surrounded by a 6 foot fence. Union Avenue is for vehicular access and there are two buildings in front which they are improving aesthetically, the fencing will remain. The 1986 Resolution ways no dumpsters are required but they are looking into putting in two dumpsters, one for trash and one for recycling and there will be fencing around this.
Regarding topographic information they are not looking into any changes. They need design waivers as per the Engineer’s letter, there is a chapter on trailers and trailer courts, they don’t comply in full with that but they do comply with the 1986 approval. They need a D-2 Variance, the Use Variance as this Zone does not permit trailer parks and they are asking for an expansion of that use; the character of the neighborhood will be improved. They also need bulk variances under the C-1 criteria, for lot size and lot depth. The Ordinance requires 45 feet from the curb line, along Higgins Avenue there are 8 building with various setbacks which do not comply, Building I is set back only 24.8 feet. On Union Avenue there are 5 buildings that encroach and set back approximately 13.49 feet. The Side Yard Setback in the Ordinance required 25 feet, there are two buildings that encroach and this will not change. Five other buildings encroach to .01 feet and this will be improved. There is a hardship due to the size of the lot and there is no way to cure this; it was approved back in 1986. The new trailers will also encroach but in an approved manner and will be upgraded and maintained.
The motel use is being eliminated and the number of units being reduced from 9 to 5, this building needs rehabilitation. The fences work very well and Mr. Fichter said this is an appropriate use for this site and promotes health and general welfare. This application, if approved, will give the applicant the ability to upgrade the site which will create light, air and open space as well as promote proper density, they are reducing the use of the site by 14%. The site will be upgraded and will not be raw land and will meet the environmental requirements; this type of lifestyle promotes life for certain New Jersey citizens and it will conserve property values in the neighborhood.
As far as negative criteria they are not seeking a new use and this area will be cleaned up; there will be no substantial detriment to the public good, there will be no new non-conforming uses and this will not impair the substantial use of the Zone Plan, the benefits outweigh the detriments.
Mr. Hilla asked how the new units compare to the old ones, will they be the same or larger and Mr. Fichter said the new trailers are updated and the applicant is bound by the HUD requirements; the new trailers will be 12x32. Mr. Langenberger asked if they will be one bedroom or two bedroom trailers and Mr. Hanlon said all are one bedroom, there will be one two bedroom unit in a building. Mr. Langenberger agreed the site is fenced all around but he didn’t think the fencing was all theirs, it belongs to someone else. He then commented on the 9 unit motel that is in the back, 8 of the 9 units could never be used, so, in reality, they are going from the 1 unit that could be used to 5 apartments; this is not decreasing but increasing. He asked if there will be a fire zone and was told yes.
Mr. Langenberger said that Trailer A was hit by a car a few years ago and he could see this happening again. Mr. Hanlon said they were trying to get title for some land there from the State, around Trailer A. Mr. Fichter said the State right-of-way is actually within the site and agreed they are working with the State, the State seems to want to do this. Mr. Hilla asked about the pavement and its condition. Mr. Fichter answered that they are going to redo the pavement in front of what is within the DOT right-of-way, this is something they are going to have to work out with them. Mr. Hilla said it is a right-of-way and is pedestrian access, kids go through there every day to get to school.
Mr. Sarnasi asked about the regulations on parking spaces and Mr. Fichter explained that Brielle does not have a standard for trailers but if they apply the residential standards they are required to have 60 spaces and they have 9 spaces. Mr. Sarnasi felt if there were one car per trailer that would be a problem; Mr. Fichter said there is not a problem now. Mr. Sarnasi then asked if these trailers are going to be rented or sold and the answer was rent. Mr. Sarnasi then wondered where do all the people park and Mr. Fichter said this condition has been going on since 1986 and they are suggesting continuing this same number of spaces, 9. Maybe when they get the State land they can put in more spaces. Mr. Condon felt if they are going to upgrade the site they may have a higher renter clientele with a car; parking is a big issue. Mr. Langenberger noted there is a municipal parking lot right across the street; Mr. Hilla commented some of those spaces belong to the diner, some to the gallery, maybe 30% of the lot is public parking. Mr. Fichter stated that that what this site can do now is covering the parking, the difference does not really exist. The issue with this application tonight is to allow changing the back building from a motel to apartments.
Mr. Condon asked how the laundry building will be secured and Mr. Fichter said the applicant can address this. As there were no further questions of Mr. Fichter from the Board the hearing was opened to the public for questions only. Cynthia Farley of 16 Courtyard Lane came forward to be sworn in and speak. She wanted to know if they are going to raise the roof on the back building and Mr. Fichter said the ridge of the roof remains. She then asked if they have factored in possible noise for the people that live in Brielle Commons and Mr. Fichter said this is a masonry building and the doors are facing the opposite side of Brielle Commons. She then asked about the trailer in the back that has not been used and he told her they are putting in new ones.
Next to come forward and be sworn in was Les Reitman of 1 Courtyard Lane. He said they talked about 1986 but nothing is the same as it was back in 1986 and he wanted if all this is being done according to those figures. New units coming in and these people are not going to be on bikes, they will have cars. Mr. Hanlon answered that the use back in 1986 has the right to continue, the Board can have the back building stay as a motel, that is all the change they are asking for. Roxanne D’Ambrosio then came forward and was sworn in, she is an owner of the trailer park next door and said she was not notified. Mrs. Brisben spoke up and said this has been looked into and she has the proof of mailing that this was sent to PO Box 1 in Point Pleasant which Ms. D’Ambrosio said was their address. Ms. D’Ambrosio then went on to say the garbage area has a lock on it; she wanted to buy this property and couldn’t due to the parking issue. There is garbage and flies there and she wanted to know if this is where the garbage area is going to be; she said there was no garbage area until she complained. Mr. Fichter said there will be a garbage area.
Arnie D’Ambrosio came forward to be sworn in. He is the other owner of the trailer park next door to this one and lives in Point Pleasant. He said there are setbacks and everything is on the property line, the minimum is 10 feet and all his trailers had to be put 10 feet back. Mr. Fichter felt that was addressed in his testimony. Mr. D’Ambrosio said he, too, had a Resolution from 1986 but had to conform and Mr. Hanlon said all setbacks are based on prior approvals. Mr. Condon asked Mr. D’Ambrosio if he had applied to the Board for relief on this and he said no, he just did what he had to do and did not come before any Board.
Ms. Farley came forward again and asked about the lighting. Mr. Fichter said they are asking for a waiver on this as there will be no change to the lighting here. Mr. D’Ambrosio came forward again and asked are the sizes of the new trailers, the units that are there now are 8x32; Mr. Fichter said the new ones will be 12x32. As there were no more questions that portion of the hearing was closed.
As the time was getting on, Mr. Condon announced to the audience that this hearing will be continued at the July 14th meeting of the Board with no further notice from the applicant. Mr. Hanlon said he will waive the time frame for approval.
As there was no further business to come before the Board, Mr. Langenberger made a motion to go into a short Executive Session at 10:35 p.m., this seconded by Mr. Stenson and unanimously approved, all aye. The Board came out of Executive Session at 10:44 p.m. on a motion by Mr. Langenberger, seconded by Mr. Stenson and unanimously approved, all aye.
As there was no other business to come before the Board a motion to adjourn was made by Mr. Langenberger, seconded by Mrs. Vitale and unanimously approved, all aye. The meeting was adjourned at 10:45 p.m.
Karen S. Brisben, Recording Secretary