Borough of Kenilworth
July 8, 2010
The meeting began with an affirmation of the Open Public Meetings Act. The schedule of meetings is on file in the Borough Clerks’ office, was posted on the bulletin board, and has been mailed to the Cranford Chronicle, the Kenilworth Leader, and the Star Ledger. All present recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Approval was given to pay the Recording Secretary.
Roll Call: Present: Mr. Lepore, Mr. Picerno, Mr. Sica, Mr. Cuppari, Mr. Murphy, Mr. Cammarota, and Mr. Candarella.
Absent: Ms. Bogus (excused), Mr. Pantina, Mr. Pugliese, and Mr. Manee.
Communications: There are no communications to report.
New Business: Garcia, 21 N. 21st Street, Block 82, Lot 8, request to reverse zoning officers’ decision to construct a balcony.
Sworn in: Mr. Robert Garcia. He read a statement, saying he is the owner of two 2-family houses, the one in question is on 21 N. 21st Street. He stated the proper ordinance was not used in the zoning officers’ decision, (Ord. 197-62, line 2), regarding the “grandfathering” of a setback. In 1997, he was given a permit for the other 2-family house to construct a balcony. There are four other balconies on the block.
Sworn in: Mr. Robert Herbert, zoning officer. He testified 21 N. 21st Street is a 2-family zone (R-3). He said the sketch given to the building department was not an architectural drawing. The survey does not show an existing, enclosed front porch. The applicant is enlarging the porch with the 2nd floor balcony, and increasing the width of the existing platform. Mr. Herbert reviewed the survey and the drawings, and he based his decision on those documents. Mr. Cammarota asked if this structure is in violation of our zoning ordinances. Mr. Herbert said any increase to a non-conforming setback must go before the Planning Board (for a variance). He quoted an error on the denial letter, but the reason for denial was an increase on the (grandfathered) non-conforming side yard setback. He said the survey (dated 7/85) was not updated. An existing enclosed porch with a “gabled hip roof” over that porch, with additional steps, was not on the survey. Mr. Picerno said there is a 12” overhang on the right side. Mr. Garcia said he wants to place a platform (for a balcony) over the porch and overhang. He said a soffit extends out with an attached gutter. Because of this, the platform above will be wider than the enclosed porch by one foot on each side.
The Board said the platform cannot extend beyond the original footprint. Mr. Tripodi said the side-yard setback on each side must be 5’. Mr. Sica said the right side infringes on that setback.
Mr. Garcia said the replacement will not extend further than the existing porch. Mr. Herbert asked if Mr. Garcia intends to construct a flat roof. Mr. Picerno stated; if you build a deck on top of a roof, you must be in line with the house (not the soffit/gutter).
Mr. Garcia said the railing is set back on his second house. Mr. Sica said his proposal cannot be built without expanding on three sides. Mr. Garcia said the railing would be considered a soffit. He is staying in line with the gutter and would not go further.
Mr. Herbert said the overhang of the house across the street is flush with the wall (not the soffit and gutter). He said the new proposal would be enlarging the non-conforming structure, and, therefore, must have a variance.
Mr. Cammarota said the applicant can build, using the existing (grandfathered) setback, but not increase the non-conformity. (He can build up, but not out).
Mr. Herbert read aloud his denial letter. There is no overhang on the hip roof, on the applicants’ drawing. He said a previous applicant had to go for a variance when he wanted to enlarge his porch.
Mr. Tripodi said the ordinances are subject to interpretation. Mr. Sica said the applicants’ balcony cannot be flush with the walls; it is impossible to build that deck without an overhang. He said soffits are allowed, but not considered part of the structure. Mr. Picerno said Mr. Garcia must take pictures to present a better case. Also, a permit cannot be given without accurate drawings. The applicants’ information before the Board is not sufficient.
Mr. Candarella said the zoning officers’ decision cannot be overturned without sufficient information. Mr. Garcia thought the Board could just go with his testimony, giving his word he that would not increase the area. He said the zoning officers’ denial should be invalid because he used the wrong ordinance in his letter. Mr. Herbert said the applicant is not complying with the side yard ordinance.
Mr. Candarella said, based on the testimony and confusion of interpretation, he made a motion to confirm Mr. Herberts’ decision. Mr. Tripodi said if this motion carries, Mr. Garcia must come before the Board for a variance. Mr. Candarella withholds his motion for the Board to discuss this matter further. Mr. Tripodi said the Board can put conditions in a resolution. Mr. Candarella said a correct drawing is necessary before any decision is rendered.
Mr. Garcia made a request to come back for another hearing with pictures and correct measurements.
Mr. Candarella suggested the applicant hire an architect with official measurements. Mr. Garcia said that would be expensive. He said he could make a drawing now in plan measurements, but he does not know how far the structure would be from the neighboring house. Mr. Candaralla said positive drawings, including setbacks, must be presented.
Mr. Picerno said the Board needs photos and the exact measurements of the existing structure, as well as the proposed structure, before the applicant can re-appear at another hearing.
Mr. Cammarota said there is a difference of about 4” in his drawings from the survey; the applicant must be careful when making the drawings. After the changes are made, the zoning officer should look them over.
Mr. Garcia requested an extension until a future meeting (possibly August 26).
Mr. Lepore said the correct photos and drawings must be submitted at least ten days before the hearing.
Mr. Cammarota made a motion to postpone this hearing to a future date, 2nd by Mr. Picerno. All in favor.
The meeting was opened to the public.
Adjournment: The meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.
Janet M. Murphy,
Planning Board Recording Secretary
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