Planning Board Minutes from 11/29/01
 

The meeting began with the pledge of allegiance and a reading of the Sunshine Law.  The following board members were present:  Mr. Beninati, Mr. Westbrook, Mr. Rappa, Mr. Vitale, Mr. Schultz (arrived late), Mr. Schlenker, Mr. Rica, and Mr. Lepore.  Mr. Westbrook made a motion to accept the minutes of October 25, 2001, 2nd by Mr. Vitale. All in favor.  Mr. Westbrook also made amotion to pay the Board Attorney and the Recording Secretary, 2nd by Mr. Lepore.  All in favor.

COMMUNICATIONS

Mr. Beninati read a letter from the Office of State Planning—a survey to be filled out by Dr. Disko, town engineer.  Another letter from the Abundant Life Worship Center withdrawing their request to establish a church at 668 North Michigan Avenue.  They are unable to meet the required zoning requirements.  Another letter from the lawyer representing the estate of  Restuccia, which requested the Application #02-01, is extended to the December 20, 2001 hearing.  In addition, two letters from residents were read opposing the possible re-zoning of the property at 10 North 24th Street from a one-family to a two-family dwelling. 

Mr. Ken  Porro, Attorney representing the neighbors opposing Application #02-01, said the wording of the original notice is defective and the estate of Restuccia must re-notify the newspapers of this change in venue, and  re-apply for a use variance,. Using a Professional Planners report provided at least ten days prior to the hearing date.  About fifteen neighbors opposing this Application were present at this session and the previous session; the attorney requested that the estate of Restuccia give ample notice if they are not going to move forward at any scheduled Planning Board meeting.  This will avoid future costs to the property owners in inconvenience and fees paid to their lawyer.   Mr. Schlenker addressed the question of dismissal of this application to Mr. Lane, Borough attorney.  Reply:  as long as the Board has not agreed to grant the request of adjournment, the Board may dismiss, and the applicant may re-apply.  A letter from the lawyer requesting an extension is not binding. A motion was made and 2nd to reject the extension of this Application, with the condition the applicant may re-apply and re-advertise when he is prepared to file. All in favor. The applicant and his lawyer were not present.  Mr. Vitale, a property owner within 200 feet, may not preside in any decision-making of this case.  Mr. Lane concurred. 

NEW BUSINESS

Application #261, phase 2 (an extension of Application #260) RE: 16 office units at Schering-Plough

Mr. Barry Marell, attorney for Schering reviewed the purpose of these applications (to put in place eight and an additional eight modular office units). Sworn in:  Mr. Michael Steffner, Project Engineer, presented diagrams of these units.  The units will house seventy-two personnel.  Once the K-10 projects are completed on or before December 31, 2004, these trailers will be removed.  A motion to approve the amendment to Application # 260 (Application #261) was made by Mr. Vitale, 2nd by Mr. Beninati.  A roll call vote was taken for all those eligible to vote: Mr. Beninati, Mr. Rappa, Mr Vitale, Mr.Schultz, Mr. Schlenker, Mr. Rica, and Mr. Lepore.  All in favor.  Motion granted.  Mr. Lane proposed a Resolution be approved at this meeting for Applications #260 and #261.  Mr. Morrell suggested an application for additional landscaping be not necessary.  Approved.

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Application #03-01  RE:  314 N. Michigan Avenue,  A fence variance.

Sworn in:  Mr. Kevin & Mrs. Laura  Mooney submitted a computer printout of the notice of this application to the neighbors within 200 feet.  However, since this was not advertised in the local newspaper as required by law, this case was withdrawn and continued until December 20, with the condition the applicant need only advertise in the newspaper.  Motion to grant made by Mr. Rappa, 2nd by Mr. Schultz. All in favor.

NOTE:   Application #261 (phase 2) , read by Mr. Schlenker, was put to a vote as a Resolution.  Roll call vote:  Mr. Beninati, Mr. Rappa, Mr. Vitale, Mr Schultz, Mr. Schlenker, Mr. Rica, Mr. Lepore.  All in favor. 

Application #04-01   RE:  480 Washington Avenue,  Application for a three-family residence

Mr. John DeMassi, attorney for Tomasso Pugliese , presented the case for the dwelling at 480 Washington Avenue to be voted on as a three-family as a pre-existing, non-conforming use, dating back to the 1940’s.

Mr. DeMassi produced tenants and a former owner to testify of its pre-existing 3-family use.  Mr. Schlenker stipulated that no recent expansion made prior to this meeting (including an expanded footprint, alterations interior and exterior and height expansions) would be legal. Repairs are permitted, but not expansions.  This would require a use variance. 

1st sworn in witness:  Anthony Pugliese, 109 North 19th Street.  Mr. Pugliese lived in the neighborhood area of 480 Washington Avenue since 1973.  He testified that he was inside the property prior to his parents’ purchase of it, less than a year ago. He testified that it was a three-family prior to the purchase, and it was being taxed as a three-family (he has a letter verifying this from the Tax Department).  He also had a letter from the State and a Certificate of Occupancy.  Question:  Did you apply for permits after the property purchase?  Answer:  Yes, I did.  Did you get a permit to re-inhabit the house?  Yes, I did.

  Exhibit A-1was marked on a letter from Mr. Rica, dated July, 2001 to Tomasso Pugliese. It stated the owner must go before the Board of Adjustment to establish or continue his right for a three-family dwelling.  Prior to this letter, did you start repairs to this house?  Yes. 

Exhibit A-2: A copy of a letter from Frank Rica to William Lane.  It stated that the last tax evaluation, dated 1988, assessed and estimated this dwelling as a three-family home. 

Exhibit A-3, # 1, 2, and 3: The documents from the State of New Jersey, dated 1993 and 1995, stating the residence was shown as a three-family. 

Exhibit A-4, sub 1 through 19: photographs of various aspects of the house and items in and around the house.  Ex: three hot water heaters, three gas meters, etc.  Mr. Pugliese said there were two bedrooms on the first floor and one bedroom in each of the two units upstairs.  Question:  Have you changed that in any respect? No, I just cleaned it up. Question: When were the gas meters installed?  Two were in place, one was replaced.  The pipe coming from the first floor was replaced with a black steel pipe. Mr. Pugliese testified that Exhibit A-4, sub 3: a photograph of three electric meters and three panels from the 1960’s and have not been changed.  The wiring was updated and changed and the electrical inspector was aware of this.   Mr. Schlenker said the meters and hot water heaters do not establish this as a three family house.  Mr. DeMassi said he would produce witnesses to establish the three-family use.

2nd witness:  Geraldine Marty, 166 Kingwood-Locktown Road, Stockton, N. J.

Question:  Did you own 480 Washington Avenue, and when did you and your husband purchase it?  Answer:  Yes, in 1974, 1975, or 1976.  I sold the property to Mr. Pugliese fifteen months ago.  During that time of ownership it was used as a three-family.  The first-floor unit was a single-bedroom unit, and the upper-floor units were single-bedroom. I don’t remember if each unit had separate gas meters, they did have three separate electric meters, and I think they had separate water heaters.  It was rented as a three-family, except when I put it on the market.  Correction:  the downstairs unit had two bedrooms.  Part of the gas and all of the oil was paid by the owner---only one bill was sent. (One water and one oil heating bill) The gas bill was paid separately, except for the gas water heater bill.  No fire escapes were present.  The State inspected in 1978, and every five years for upkeep.  Mr. Lane said any dwellings housing over two families or a hotel must be inspected every five years.

3rd witness: Mr. Robert Woods, 144 North 19th Street.  Stated he lived about fifty years in the area of 480 Washington Avenue.  In the mid-1950’s, Mr. Woods said he had been in the house and saw three families

living there.  Prior to 1971, the area was a business zone.  He said the first floor of the building had a store with two apartments upstairs.  Sometime after the mid 1940’s, it was converted to a three-family.

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4th witness: Mr. Giuseppe Petracca, 10 Wilshire Drive, previously lived at 492 Washington Avenue from 1969 to 1983.  He remembered the previous owners and that there were three mailboxes present, and three families living there.

5th witness: Mr. Washington Martinez, 636 Trenton Avenue, lived at 480 Washington avenue from 1987 to 2000.  There were three bedrooms (or two bedrooms and a dining room) on the first floor.  He saw only one water heater, and paid his electric bill separately.

Mr. Schlenker pointed out about the inconsistencies with the water heaters, gas meters, and number of bedrooms on the first floor. 

Mr. Anthony Pugliese was re-called.  He stated there was 2 bedrooms and a smaller room, an eat-in kitchen and a living room.  Upstairs has a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom for each unit.  He put in new windows, plywood on the floors, put in extra closets, etc.  He said he did not change the exterior of the house and no additional footprints.  John Risso said he could put up the sheetrock and not move partitions.  He applied for electrical, plumbing, and fires permits, but there was a question of needing an architects plan.  The permits are being held at the Building Department.  I applied for the permits John Risso suggested.  All were signed-off, except for the fire permit. A stop-work order was issued, because the question of a pre-existing, non-conforming use was valid.   The permits were applied for, but not issued. 

Mr. Lane stated an enlargement of the apartment would be illegal, as well as a movement of walls.  Mr. Pugliese has architect’s plans that show two bedrooms on the first floor. Mr. Schlenker saw the

 Eastern side shows an entrance.  On the Washington Avenue side, there appears to be a platform,

Mr. Schlenker invited opposition witnesses.

Maria Noble, 110 North 20th Street is concerned about no parking for residents, and parking across from the firehouse should not be allowed. 

Mr. Lou Giordino, chief of the fire department of Kenilworth.  He stated that Mr. Anthony Peters, who suggested the stop-work order is a member of the fire department and fire inspection official. The firehouse is located between 19th and 20th streets on Washington Avenue, and all corner houses across the street use existing driveways onto the side streets.  After informing Mr. Rica, Zoning Official, about a proposed driveway across from the firehouse, Mr.  Rica denied Mr. Pugliese approval of the driveway in a letter dated June 19, 2001.  Mr. Pugliese said he would put in a driveway regardless of permission.  On July 23, 2001, the police department filed a report of illegally breaking the yellow curbing to put in a driveway.  On July 28, a stone driveway was put in place, leading to the twenty foot broken yellow curb. 

Mr. DeMassi said this should be separate and distinct, from the question of this being an existing three-family dwelling.  Mr. Schlenker said the question is does this curb cut and extra driveway constitute an expansion, and as soon as there is an expansion of the use, does this require a hearing before the Board of Adjustments and the granting of a variance.  Mr. Lane suggested a research into this, and stated there were two separate issues 1. If the curb cut and additional driveway or parking spaces is a sufficient enlargement of the existing structure and 2. Mr. DeMassi is of the opinion that the occupant be given an opportunity to rehabilitate this curbing to its original state.  Note:  the architects’ plans were submitted as Exhibit A-5.

6th witness: Ms. Janet Yendrick, 114 North 20th Street stated there were three separate apartments and the house was in disrepair for a period of at least eight years prior to the Pugliese purchase. She welcomes the future improvements to the house in the neighborhood.

Mr. Woods said there were three bedrooms originally in 1970, one of which is now a small closet, reducing the first floor apartment to a two-bedroom unit.

7th witness: Mr. Frank Pugliese, 229 North 13th Street: stated the driveway at 480 Washington Avenue was to be a wall with flowers, but because of the fire department and an argument with Anthony Peters, the curb was cut to make a driveway.

Mr. Schlenker was upset about the negative publicity about Kenilworth this situation received.  He is uncomfortable with the renovations being started before the architects’ plans were submitted and before the permits were issued.  These proceedings may not have been necessary if the law had been upheld.

Mr. DeMassi stated this meeting would have occurred because of a question of the validity of a pre-existing and non-conforming structure.  Mr. Rica stated if this was handled properly with permits, proper inspections, and proper plans submitted before the work began the problem of expansion might not have been addressed.  Mr. Westervelt suggested we come to a decision.  Mr. Lane suggested this matter be carried to the next meeting of December 20.  He suggested Mr. DeMassi address the curb cut and driveway problem and allows the owner to rectify this.  If the proceedings are held until January, three of the present

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Board members may not be re-appointed, and the possible new members would not have heard these testimonies.

CONCLUSION

  Mr. Schlenker would like documentation of the sequence of the work that was done prior to the stop-work order without the necessary permits.  On December 20, a decision should be rendered.

Mr. Schultz made a motion for a continuance to the next meeting, 2nd by Mr. Rappa..  All in favor.  Mr. Vitale made a motion to adjourn at 11 p.m., 2nd by Mr. Schultz. All in favor.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Janet Murphy,

Recording Secretary

  



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