Warren township planning board meeting minutes monday, november 9, 2009 7: 30 P. M

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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2009 – 7:30 P.M.

Susie B. Boyce Meeting Room – 44 Mountain Boulevard

CALL TO ORDER: The regular public meeting of the Warren Township Planning Board was called to order at 7:32 by Peter Villani, Chairman.

Mayor Garafola – Present Mrs. Smith – Present

Committeeman DiNardo – Absent Mr. Toth – Present

Mr. Gallic – Absent Mr. Carlock – Absent

Mr. Kaufmann - Absent Mr. Freijomil – Present

Mr. Lindner – Present

Mr. Malanga – Present Mr. Villani, Chairman – Present

Alan A. Siegel, Esq. – Present

John T. Chadwick, IV., P.P., Township Planner – Present

Christian Kastrud, P.E. – Present

Anne Lane, Clerk – Present
Statement by Presiding Officer: Adequate notice of this meeting was posted on January 22, 2009 on the Township bulletin board, sent to the Township Clerk, Echoes Sentinel and Courier News per the Open Public Meetings Act of New Jersey. All Board Members are duly appointed volunteers working for the good and welfare of Warren Township. We plan to adjourn no later than 10:00 p.m.


October 26, 2009

On motion of Mr. Lindner, second of Mrs. Smith, Minutes of the October 26, 2009 were approved as distributed:

In Favor: Mayor Garafola, Mr. Lindner, Mr. Malanga, Mrs. Smith, Mr. Toth, Mr. Villani.

Opposed: None


John T. Chadwick, IV, P.P., Township Planner – No Report

Christian Kastrud, P.E., Township Engineer – No Report

Alan A. Siegel, Esq., Board Attorney – No Report

Anne Lane, Clerk – No Report

CITIZEN’S HEARING (Non-Agenda Items Only): Seeing none, this portion of the hearing was closed.
Warren Township Planning Board Meeting Minutes

November 9, 2009 – Page 2


Item #1:

The Township Committee introduced the following ordinance at a meeting held on October 29, 2009. At that time, the ordinance was referred to the Planning board for review and recommendation:

Ordinance #09-25:


This ordinance will be considered for adoption at a meeting of the Township Committee to be held on November 19, 2009.

Mr. Chadwick stated this is intended to be clarification of the ordinance. Currently there is no definition for two and one-half stories. The Zoning Code has permitted two and one-half story structures in all of the residential zones. There have been a number of applications that proposed something in the attic, but because there is no definition of two and one-half stories, a request of this type became a third story. The change is proposed to provide consistency with story definition so there would be no conflict between the zoning ordinance and the building code. At this time, an attic can only be used for storage with no living accommodations permitted. Mr. Chadwick stated a playroom or office would be permitted in this area. Mayor Garafola noted this would increase the floor area ratio therefore allowing additional tax ratables. Mr. Chadwick further stated this does not affect the Fire Code. When a building reaches 6,000 sq. ft. there are different fire laws. Mr. Chadwick stated two and one-half stories are not permitted in non-residential zones. This would apply to residential only because of the way the standards are written for specific zones. Mr. Villani reiterated he was concerned there was no provision for egress from this floor. Mr. Chadwick stated this application is very limited. This ordinance was put through for clarification. Mayor Garafola stated unanimous approval was given by the Township Committee. Mr. Malanga asked if a dormer could be raised. Mr. Chadwick stated only if it met height standards and noted most dormers in town are one and one-half story homes. He is not aware of any homes that have dormers on attic roofs.

On motion of Mayor Garafola, second of Mrs. Smith, the Clerk was directed to send a letter to the Township Committee on behalf of the Planning Board that this ordinance is not inconsistent with the Master Plan.

In Favor: Mayor Garafola, Mr. Lindner, Mr. Malanga, Mrs. Smith, Mr. Toth, Mr. Freijomil,

Mr. Villani.

Opposed: None
Item #2:

Section 15-5(a)(3) of the ordinance requires escrow fees ranging from $6,000.00 to $50.000.00 for residential and non-residential site plans and/or subdivisions inclusive of minor site plans. The amount of escrow depends on the number of units (residential) or square footage of building area (nonresidential). No provision is made for an amended application. In a recent case, the applicant was required to submit a $20,000.00 escrow fee although the amended preliminary and final application was to only involve parking.
Warren Township Planning Board Meeting Minutes

November 9, 2009 – Page 3
Section 15-5(a)(3) (Continued):

There is a sense that a lesser number would be appropriate for amended applications. As a matter of law, escrow fees must be reasonable. We therefore submit the following for Planning Board consideration:

  1. That the escrow fee for all amended applications be reduced to 50% of the full fee.
  2. This would apply to all amended applications that come before the Planning Board.

Mr. Siegel stated the current ordinances require escrow fees for residential and non-residential developments that can range from $6,000.00 to $50,000.00. Those escrow fees pay for professional review. If the funds are not used, they are returned, but the money must be paid up front in order to get the process started. Recently a case was submitted whereby someone was going to apply for an amendment to a site plan that was previously approved. Only modification of the parking was being requested. Under the ordinance a $20,000.00 escrow fee had to be posted. The consensus of those at the table was that was very high for what was being considered. Upon looking at the ordinance, it was found there was no provision for an amended plan, or lesser amount of money. The amended fee is the same as the original application fees and normally amended applications are much simpler. The thought was that the Board may wish to recommend to the Township Committee that when there is an amended application, the escrow fee be 50% of what it would have been. This would be for all amended applications. It is a suggestion the professionals thought should be brought before the Board.

Mr. Villani stated the 50% would more than cover a simple amendment. Mayor Garafola asked if the applicant gets interest on the money. It was stated that anything over $5,000.00 would collect interest, but this would have to be confirmed by the CFO. Mr. Lindner stated that once the escrow account is depleted, the applicant is asked to replenish the funds, so he does not feel the Township would be put in a bad position if this change were to be made. In response to Mayor Garafola’s question, it was stated that if there is a problem with getting additional escrow funds, letters are written first by the Escrow Official, then the Chief Financial Officer, and if need be, the Township Attorney. It was noted cases of this sort are rare. Mr. Siegel reiterated if escrow is not paid, maps would not be signed and a certificate of occupancy would not be issued. In response to Mr. Freijomil’s question, all amended applications would be treated the same. If it is a significant amendment, additional funds would be requested as needed. There is a Developer’s Escrow Agreement signed with each application.

It was generally agreed Mr. Chadwick would send a letter to the Township Committee requesting an ordinance be passed to reflect this change.
CASE #1 – 11-09-09:

E-2005-44 – Owner/Applicant – Farheen Masood, Block 12 Lot 9, a.k.a. 98 Liberty Corner Road.

Applicant proposes to move 2,372 cubic yards of soil. Pursuant to Ordinance 15-9.2(g) “Any application for soil movement of one-thousand (1,000) cubic yards or more shall be reviewed and approved or denied by the Planning Board based upon the standards established herein”.

John Camacho, Builder, 14 Belleville Avenue, Belleville NJ was present on behalf of the owner and was sworn in by Board Counsel. Mr. Camacho stated this property was previously approved for a single family dwelling; however, the plans have changed which requires movement of approximately 3,800 cubic yards, and is required to be reviewed by the Planning Board. It was noted the application states 2,372 cubic yards of soil, but the applicant’s representative stated it would be 3,800 cubic yards. Mr. Kastrud clarified that there are two different categories of soil movement that is reviewed; 1) how much is cut and 2) how much fill. The number 2,372 is the amount of cut material on the site and the balance (fill – approximately 1,500 cubic yards) makes up the difference to 3,800 cubic yards. Mr. Kastrud further explained when an area is developed there is a certain amount of soil that must be removed to get to

Warren Township Planning Board Meeting Minutes

November 9, 2009 – Page 4
CASE #1 – 11-09-09 (Continued):

E-2005-44 – Owner/Applicant – Farheen Masood, Block 12 Lot 9, a.k.a. 98 Liberty Corner Road.

a certain elevation, whether for a basement, pool, driveway, etc. This is typically referred to as a cut (removal of existing soil). Also during development procedures there are areas that need to be filled and raised such as elevated patios, etc. That is referred to as fill volume. Our soil movement ordinance typically looks at the entire movement, and adds both numbers together for a total number. That is how the 3,800 cubic yards was determined in the Engineering review letter. Mr. Kastrud answered Board questions. Mr. Kastrud noted this plan was a little more elaborate because of the nature of the site.

Mr. Camacho stated the reason for the amount of soil being moved is that his client wishes to have a walk out basement. Because of the position of the home, the back yard is sloped. In order to get a walk-out basement, this amount of soil had to be moved. Mr. Malanga asked how this would affect the adjacent properties. Mr. Kastrud stated there is almost five acres on this tract. Immediately to the north is a property that fronts onto Liberty Corner Road, and that home is well over 100’ away from the area of disturbance. Mr. Chadwick stated the rear setback is 25’. In this instance there is a distance of 125’ to the home.

Mr. Chadwick stated this leads into his report of November 4, 2009. There are no clearing limits shown on the plan. The existing home will be demolished prior to soil movement. Clearing limits need to be shown on plan along the driveway and around to the back of the home where the teardrop driveway exists (where the retaining walls are). Mr. Chadwick further noted the wall in front needs to be lowered to three feet. The applicant’s representative agreed to the clearing limits and to lower the wall.

Mr. Kastrud stated the existing driveway off Liberty Corner Road for the existing home crosses the flat catch basin. Mr. Kastrud suggested the driveway be moved to avoid the drainage inlet. In response to Mrs. Smith’s question, Mr. Camacho stated the pile of stone was left by the sewerage contractor and will be used by the applicant. The builder must go through Somerset County Solid Waste review as well as D.E.P. Mayor Garafola stated the house will be set back quite far on the five acres. Looking northeast of the pool area, what is beyond the side Line? Is there property that will be lower in elevation because of the change of the terrain? Also what is east and northwest? Mr. Kastrud stated this also referred to item #3 of his report. Other Board members expressed interest of the impact on adjoining properties since this home will be placed right on the edge. Mr. Kastrud stated plans will need to be revised to reflect comments in his memo, and anything else the Board wished to add. Mr. Villani asked the status of the wetlands. Mr. Kastrud had no specific information on lot 9. Further discussion took place with regard to the location of the home on the property.
Farheen Massod of 8 Avery Court, Bridgewater, NJ. owner of the property was sworn in by Board Counsel. Mrs. Masood stated she preferred her home to be in the back of the property to achieve more privacy. She also wanted more yard in front of the home for a tennis court and basketball court. She would also like to put a tent in the front yard for a wedding in the future. The back would then be left for the pool and courtyard. In the extreme back there is a mound that would afford her more privacy.

Mrs. Smith asked where the home to the right would be located. Mr. Camacho stated it would be in the center of the property. Mrs. Smith noted if this home was placed in the center of the lot, there would not be a cut problem. Mr. Camacho noted this is not where the client would like the home. Mr. Lindner stated the Board’s concern is that there is so much soil being taken away, and because the home will be

so close to a potential neighbor’s property in the future, how will the land be altered for a home being built next door approximately 50’ away. Although there are woods now it could be developed in the future. Mrs. Masood reiterated she is looking for as much privacy as possible.

Warren Township Planning Board Meeting Minutes

November 9, 2009 – Page 5
CASE #1 – 11-09-09 (Continued):

E-2005-44 – Owner/Applicant – Farheen Masood, Block 12 Lot 9, a.k.a. 98 Liberty Corner Road.

Mr. Villani stated there is a lot of concern regarding the amount of soil being moved which will change the elevations of the property. Mr. Kastrud stated the applicant is actually lowering the area that is being filled. The driveway will basically be on grade. Fill begins at the first two-car garage on the right side of the driveway and in the “teardrop” portion of the driveway. For the dwelling itself, it is customary when the basement is built and the stairs leading down with the deck off the back (northerly side of the property) will lead to the first floor which is around elevation 468 down to an elevation where the pool will be built. The pool will be approximately at the elevation of the walk-out basement. That whole area will be cut down approximately 4-6’ below the elevation of the property at the property line. It will drain in an easterly direction with all of the runoff to be handled by dry wells. Mr. Kastrud noted more detail needed to be shown on the plans for the dry wells to show how the overflow will be handled. Anything that would happen along the northern property line (lot 8) would drain to the east toward Oak Avenue.

Mr. Villani questioned testing of the water table. Mrs. Masood stated tests were done but she does not have them with her. Mr. Villani noted there were some very high water tables in that area. Mrs. Masood stated there is a septic tank on the property of the existing home and testing had to be done. The home has been vacant since September of last year.

Mr. Kastrud’s report of November 5, 2009 was further reviewed. One of the details of the seepage tanks shows a grate, the other a concrete lid. If this is a concrete lid, the means of overflow needs to be addressed or a grate can be used to allow the water to be disbursed over the woods which would be preferred. This needs to be clarified on the plan. Mr. Villani stated the builder is agreeing to Mr. Kastrud’s comments, but he is not the engineer and cannot speak for him. Mr. Kastrud stated it would be appropriate for any structures on the lots on the north and northeast to be shown on the plans to ensure they will not be affected. The amount of excess soil (840 cubic yards) would have to be removed from the site. If the excess soil goes to another site in Warren Township, that site must have soil movement approval. Mr. Camacho stated the 840 cubic yards will not be moved to another site in Warren but if anything changes, the Engineering Department will be notified.
Mr. Chadwick stated the retaining walls and pool deck is allowed within the setback. The retaining wall surrounding the teardrop driveway is 4’ high and must be reduced, the applicant has agreed to that. The patio around the pool is permitted, but the pool itself cannot extend into the side yard. Mr. Kastrud noted there is no requirement in Warren to do pre-construction water testing. Inspection would determine if more pits will be required.
Mr. Kastrud stated the only other comment is that the existing mound that is just to the left of the dwelling, as a point of fact, has been there for years. Clearing limits were again discussed and Mr. Chadwick noted a tree replacement plan would be recommended.

The report submitted by the Warren Township Police Department was addressed. Mr. Camacho stated the applicant will comply with both items in the report.

It was generally agreed the Board would not make a decision this evening based on the fact that it is not clear what impact this would have on surrounding properties and other issued discussed. Mr. Siegel noted no notice is required for this application. Mayor Garafola stated the Board would need to know the topography surrounding the project and what the chance would be of increasing runoff to those properties. Mr. Chadwick stated there are a number of online services available to show where the surrounding homes are. He further noted there has been no construction in this area for years. The

applicant will need to verify the information is up to date. Oak Avenue is a paper street. There have been proposals to the Township Committee over the past to have this street vacated.

Warren Township Planning Board Meeting Minutes

November 9, 2009 – Page 6
CASE #1 – 11-09-09 (Continued):

E-2005-44 – Owner/Applicant – Farheen Masood, Block 12 Lot 9, a.k.a. 98 Liberty Corner Road.
Mr. Chadwick stated the property to the south belongs to the applicant. It was noted the property to the north is in question. Mr. Toth requested the applicant to discuss further the concern that if the detention basins do not hold all of the water, where the runoff would then go. Mr. Kastrud suggested the soil tests be presented that were previously done by the applicant to show water levels.

Mr. Chadwick stated the first critical issue would be to identify the ground water elevation on this property. This would be helpful to the applicant also, to help them determine the number of pits that must be dug. Mr. Chadwick stated the reports the owner now has should be sufficient as he does not feel the ground water table has changed dramatically over 9 years. The other part would be to know where the water is going to go. Any of the services will give the applicant a good picture of the “lay of the land”. The land on either side of Oak is in similar ownership and has a lot of wetlands. This may be in part why the lot is vacant (part ownership and part paper street). This is the natural area to which this water would drain. It was suggested the applicant bring their engineer to the next meeting. Mr. Camacho stated he is clear on the issues the Board needs addressed.

On motion of Mr. Toth, second of Mr. Lindner the above case was carried to November 23, 2009.

In Favor: Mayor Garafola, Mr. Lindner, Mr. Malanga, Mrs. Smith, Mr. Toth, Mr. Freijomil,

Mr. Villani.

Opposed: None
CITIZEN’S HEARING (Agenda Items) Hearing none, this portion of the hearing was closed.
Mayor Garafola stated that a number of years ago the Bollinger Building at the end of Technology Drive North was approved. Just beyond the new Post Office and Stone Crest Church, she noticed a significant amount of concrete, old road tarmac, and possibly oil tanks. She was of the impression they were putting up a 100,000 sq. ft. building, which however was never built. Mayor Garafola asked who would be dumping this debris. Mr. Chadwick stated he had no idea, but would take a look at it, since this site was clear approximately one year ago. After further discussion, Mr. Chadwick stated he would inspect and determine a course of action to again clear this property.

Mr. Villani stated he wished to go back to the two and one-half story issue. He has a serious concern regarding this and would like to change his vote. Mr. Siegel stated that a motion would need to be made to reconsider. Mr. Villani questioned the ordinance as far as running water and electricity, and the possibility of an additional bathroom, a hot plate, etc. Also, what is meant by office and/or playroom? Mr. Villani has a concern with the fact that from the third floor, there is no second means of ingress or egress, and given the fact that children may be playing there, it lends itself in his mind to some degree of chance of something happening. His thought is that this can possibly become additional living quarters, and he feels it could be a very dangerous situation. Mr. Villani asked what ordinance restrictions there are. How far can the third floor be improved?

Mr. Chadwick stated the restriction of the proposed ordinance indicates that no more than 1/3 of building height of the floor below may be used for the story above it. If there is a 1,000 sq. ft. second floor, a 330 sq. ft. third floor would be permitted (approximately 15 x 20). Access, emergency egress, and utilities are all regulated by zoning. If this is made a third floor bedroom, and bathroom, it must have another form of egress. The fire code has changed significantly over the past five years as to what has to be done. Mr. Chadwick stated boundaries needed to be set. The 1/3 of building height is consistent with the BOCA code which is international.

Warren Township Planning Board Meeting Minutes

November 9, 2009 – Page 7
Mayor Garafola stated that when the additional one-half story is built into these homes, at the present time it is not considered part of the floor area ratio. We are presently losing this area as being considered a tax ratable.

Mr. Villani asked why restrictions could not be imposed as to the degree of development. Mr. Chadwick stated at this time there is no regulation for this. It would be a different type of regulation. The first step would be to define the half-story, as this ordinance does. The next step would be to set a general regulation for residential construction that only non-sleeping, non-eating facilities would be permitted in the third floor/attic conversion. This could be done under a separate general regulation and Mr. Chadwick could follow-up and present that issue to the Township Committee if the Board so chooses. Mr. Chadwick does not feel it was the Township Committee’s intention to allow this to be another bedroom/kitchen, etc. Mr. Villani stated this would be a matter of interpretation, and still feels this could be a problem in the future. Mr. Villani wishes to change his vote, since he is not comfortable with this.

On motion of Mr. Villani, second of Mr. Toth the previously approved matter that Ordinance 09-25 is not inconsistent with the Master Plan was re-opened for re-consideration.

In Favor: Mr. Lindner, Mr. Malanga, Mr. Toth, Mr. Freijomil, Mr. Villani.

Opposed: Mayor Garafola, Mrs. Smith.

Mr. Freijomil asked for clarification that this is to define a use that’s already out there and that this is only intended to clarify and increase the potential for more tax ratables. Mr. Chadwick stated this is defining a standard that is in the zone regulations currently, but at this time, there is no definition of a half-story. That was the first objective. The Chairman raised the question as to now that we have a regulation for half-story, what it could be used for. Mr. Chadwick reiterated that is the second step previously discussed and if the Board requested it, he would send a letter to the Township Committee clarifying permitted uses.

Mayor Garafola stated the Township Committee spent a lot of time on this matter. It was simply meant for clarification of something that is now in place. In her opinion, this is to count the third story as floor area ratio, so we get more tax ratables and keep people honest. Right now this is not being done. The notion they are going to put a sink or bathroom will not happen as they will not get a certificate of occupancy. Mayor Garafola’s opinion is that the Board has gone past what started out to be a simple clarification.

On motion of Mayor Garafola second of Mrs. Smith, a re-vote was taken that the Ordinance 09-25 as presented earlier is not inconsistent with the Master Plan:

In Favor: Mayor Garafola, Mr. Lindner, Mr. Malanga, Mrs. Smith, Mr. Toth, Mr. Freijomil

Opposed: Mr. Villani
SCHEDULE OF NEXT MEETING: Monday, November 23, 2009

7:30 p.m. Susie B. Boyce Meeting Room

ADJOURNMENT: On motion of Mayor Garafola, second of Mrs. Smith, the meeting was adjourned at 8:50 p.m. Motion unanimously carried by voice vote.

Respectfully submitted,

Anne Lane, Clerk, Planning Board


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