Planning Board April 25, 2011

Roll Call:Tom dePoortere absent.


Mr. Newlin reported that there will be some upcoming business with respect to riparian buffers. The township ordinance differs with a county model and a model developed by the state DEP and the Passaic River Coalition. Mr. Fox recommended adopting the state model. A board subcommittee will develop a recommendation for the Board after receiving input from the Environmental Commission with a view towards giving the Township Committee a recommendation on an ordinance by April 2012.
It was announced that Mr. Dietz was now a Class IV member of the Board and Mr. Saulnier was now a Class II member of the Board.

Mr. Saulnier reported that the Environmental Commission had recently discussed riparian buffers, deer fencing, and environmentally constrained lots. With respect to constrained lots, the Commission will be looking at recent projects and practices of other towns before making any recommendations. One solution might be to change the dimensions of building boxes on these lots.
Mr. Bartlett reported that the Township Committee and the Harding Land Trust were working on the plans for the Von Zuben property hoping to develop a model for future use of jointly owned property. Currently, the plan is for a meadow of native wildflowers (which will be mowed infrequently), with paths but no other facilities.

Ms. DiTosto reported that the Cell Tower Committee had met with T-Mobile, and that the company wanted to explore the property across the street from the Seventh Day Adventist property, but Mr. Hall advised that this was Green Acres property and not usable for this purpose. The plan now is to look at other available locations, such as various DOT properties before proceeding.

Ms. Olcott reported that the Advisory Review Committee had met a couple of times and had discussed several topics. One was the issue of building height. Deliberations are not complete, but the ARC will be making recommendations to wording changes for residential properties, particularly barns. Input from others will be gathered before a recommendation is made.

The Board of Adjustment is looking for guidance on two issues pertaining to historic structures: (1) restoration and enlargement of non-conforming structures, both new construction and properties suffering from decay or damage, and (2) improvements to historic structures which could render them “non-historic.” With respect to the first issue, the feeling is that the current ordinance was adequate and that the Board of Adjustment should be guided by the Master Plan when exercising judgment in these matters. The second issue arises when people buy historic structures with a view to making improvements, and then use the position of the historic structure to seek variances, often to setback requirements. Ms. Kimball researched the issue and suggested the right approach is for these decisions to be decided by scale. Scale is emphasized by the Master Plan in determining the size of historic structures, and is also included in the guidelines published by the US Department of the Interior. Ms. Olcott recommended that the memo that had been written on the topic be forwarded to the Board of Adjustment and the Historic Preservation Commission, and that the HPC should be invited to attend the Planning Board meeting when the Board of Adjustment makes its annual report to the Planning Board so that the issue could be discussed. Several other items were mentioned for continued ARC study: opulent entry ways to properties that were destroying streetscapes, fences, and lighting.

PB-04-10, Applicant GHK Realty II/Fawn Hill Associates, Block 4, Lots 21 and 21.01, 655-665 Spring Valley Road, Preliminary and Final major Subdivision with Variances. Action: Continue Public Hearing; Consider New Concept Plan. The applicant’s engineer presented a new concept plan which showed five lots of at least five acres each, and removal of structures which eliminated the need for setback and coverage variances. In particular, the freestanding garage and two-unit house would be removed from Lot 21 (the “main house lot,” now 7.2 acres), as well as the courtyard and portions of the driveway. In addition, the open garage and sheds would be removed from Lot 21.04 (the “farm lot”). While generally the Board seemed please with the new proposal, discussion focused on access to the property and use of driveways. Also, bridle trails were not addressed. Mr. Fox observed that existing septic systems would need to be abandoned with the new lot configuration, soil testing would need to be re-done, and extensive riparian buffers would be required on the farm lot. Mr. Hall was queried about the timeline for the application. He suggested that the clock should be restarted, that new notice be given, and that an adjournment be requested to file new plans.