Planning Board Minutes 2/9/2012
 

Planning Board Minutes

Borough of Kenilworth

February 9, 2012

Open Public Meetings Act :The meeting began with an affirmation of the Open Public Meetings Act. 

Pledge of Allegiance:Lead by Mr. Lepore

Roll Call:  Present:  Mr. Lepore, Ms. Bogus, Mr. Picerno, Mr. Cuppari. Mr. Sica, Mr. Pugliese, Mr. Zignauskas, Mr. Murphy.

Approval of Minutes:   Motion was made by Mr. Picerno, seconded by Mr. Sica to approve the minutes from the December 8, 2011 Meeting& the Re-organization Meeting Minutes of January 12, 2012 were approved.  All in favor.

Approval to pay Recording Secretary: Motion was made by Mr. Pugliese, seconded by Ms. Bogus to pay the Recording Secretary.  All in favor.

Communications:Mr. Lepore reported correspondence from the applicant New Cingular, notifying the landlord on the cleanliness of the area. Mr. O’Brien said they are meeting at the site next week. 

Resolution:  Application #8-11 & 325, New Cingular Wireless, PCS, LLC (AT&T),

20-60 South 31st Street, Kenilworth, Block 179, Lots 2 &3. Site Plan and Variance. A motion to approve this application to resolution was made by Ms. Bogus, seconded by Mr. Picerno.  All in favor: Mr. Lepore, Mr. Picerno, Ms. Bogus, Mr. Cupari, Mr. Sica, Mr. Zignauskas.

New Business:Application #329Wells Fargo Bank, 477 Boulevard, Block 114, Lot 13 & 14.Mr. Brian Jakuleviciw, Esq. from Hehl & Hehlrepresenting Wells Fargo seeking a minor site plan approval for parking lot improvements to be ADA compliant. The bank and drive through are permitted uses in the zone.

Mr. Jakuleviciw stated that Mr. William Ryan, Long Architects & Associates and Mr. Thomas Pugsley, Jr., PE from NorthStar Design, LLC are here to answer any questions the Board might have.

Mr. Kevin O’Brien and Mr. Richard O’Connor and Mr. William Ryan from Longo Architects & Associates, 36 South Street, New Providence, NJ were sworn in by Nicholas Giuditta, Esq. 

Mr. Ryan said he is a registered architect in the State of New Jersey and is the architect for Wells Fargo Bank.  The bank asked him to upgrade the ADA exterior entrances for  accessibility into the branch which means demolishing and reconstructing the existing front ramp to make it ADA compliant and also providing compliant parking spaces in the rear and the entrance into the back of the building.  He said they reconstructed the front entrance with railings and put railings in the back and also relocated the parking spaces in the back.  He said they also provided an accessible path via stripped cross walks to the rear entrance.

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Mr. Lepore said what he is gathering from the application is that in the back you are going to be having a striped sidewalk along the walkway?  Mr. Ryan replied yes it will be striped on the asphalt until you get to the curb ramp which is basically in front of the rear entrance. Mr. Lepore asked if they were going to remove the pavers and Mr. Ryan said yes. Mr. Lepore asked Mr. Ryan if he had a chance to review the planner’s comments and Mr. Ryan said yes he did.

Mr. Ryan addressed each item (D1-D6) on Kevin O’Brien’s letter dated February 6, 2012.

D-1Mr. O’Brien indicated the concrete planter on the Boulevard is presently empty and recommended year round plants should be placed in the planter to give the streetscape color.  Mr. Ryan said there were previously annuals in the planter and they will now put a year round plant in there. He said they will have a landscape contractorprovide a schedule for review and approval for the plantings and ultimately final approval would be based on the Board’s approval.

D-2 Mr. O’Brien indicated a number of bushes and/or small trees were removed from the area adjacent to the drive up window lanes leaving a rather bleak looking area set back from the Boulevard and he suggested low growing shrubs should be placed there that will not interfere with driver visibility but will provide a buffer and visual interest. Mr. O’Brien said this is the area directly adjacent to the drive-up lane. He also said if you are on the Boulevard looking south toward the parking lot, the area to the east of the drive-up lanes has a chain link fence that is in disrepair and also there are a number of stumps and stubs that look like there was something planted there that has been removed and he said he thinks the Board would like to see something replanted along there.  Mr. Ryan said Wells Fargo will comply but one of their biggest concerns is security so they would like to have low shrubs.  Mr. Lepore asked if they can do something with the fencing because they are in the heart of the town and we want to comply with our Master Plan in beautifying the area and making it appealing to the public and residents.

D-3 Mr. O’Brien asked what will happen to the existing planting strip next to the rear entrance. He presumes the planting area remains and if it does it should be replanted with year round growth to add interest to the entrance. Mr. Ryan said currently there is river rock stone and rhododendrons up against the building and their intent is not to disrupt the plantings against the building although they are eliminatingthe sidewalk that goes directly to the side door.  Their intent is to put the river rock stone back if it is acceptable with the Board.  Mr. O’Brien asked if the planting strip at the rear of the bank building is being removed?  Mr. Ryan said no, the one adjacent to the door is to remain. Mr. O’Brien asked if the planting strip where the windows are will be removed and Mr. Ryan said that planting strip is to remain.  Mr. O’Brien asked if they can dress up the one under the window?

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Mr. Picerno asked if Wells Fargo was removing the concrete strip in front of the rhododendron in picture 1?  Mr. Ryan replied yes because of the steepness it is greater than a 5% ramp slope so they eliminated it for liability issues. Mr. Picerno asked if they were going to take out the concrete and put stones?  Mr. Ryan said yes they will put the stone that is on both sides of the strip so they will have one continuous river rock stone bed.  Mr. Zignauskas asked if the intention would be to walk around the stone to get into the building and that no one should be walking on the stones and Mr. Ryan said that is correct.

D-4   Mr. OBrien indicated the chain link fence running along the eastern property line is in disrepair in some areas is completely missing and in others places it should be repaired or replaced with something suitable for this prominent property.  Mr. Ryan responded by stating the bank has instructed him to repair what is damaged.  Mr. O’Brien said if you look at photograph

#2 on page #1 in the middle of the photograph you can see the repair issue and if you look to the left of the lamp post you can see that the chain link fence, which appears to beowned by the bank, just ends and does not continue. He said he is not sure if it’s necessary to continuethe fence along the entire property. given the surrounding fences, but if it were done in conjunction with some lower plantings to provide a buffer to the surrounding properties perhaps the Board may not require the fence to be complete all the way through.  Mr. Ryan said further down the wood fence line there is a gap where it becomes a chain link fence and their intent is to buffer it with 5’ or 6’ evergreens to shield from looking directly into the backyards of the residents. 

D-5– Mr. O’Brien indicated the existing trees along the eastern boundary line provide shade and clearly marked property line but the trees do not buffer this use from the adjacent residential uses at ground level.  He suggested possibly a low growing evergreen planting could provide a more solid buffer.  Mr. Ryan responded by stating their intention is to create a buffer with 5’ or 6’ evergreen trees.

D-6 – Mr. O’Brien indicated Wells Fargo Bank is the first prominent commercial property encounteredwhen  traveling east along the Boulevard entering the “downtown” area and with that prominence comes a responsibility to present the best face possible.  He said the bank should consider repainting or replacing the rusted cupola on the roof of the bank and straightening the weather vane above the cupola. Mr. Ryan responded they Wells Fargo will straighten out the weather vane and also repair the cupola.

Mr. Picerno asked Mr. Ryan if Wells Fargo owned the property and he responded by stating yes they do own the property.  Mr. Picerno stated why with that beautiful piece of property that they own and it being the first thing people see when you come into the downtown area, why would all that stuff not taken care of in the first place.  

Mr. Zignauskas asked if they were doing anything with the lining of the parkinglot?  Mr. Ryan responded by saying they will re-stripe the existing handicap spots and put new striping on the opposite side. Mr. Zignauskas asked what about the safety of the people going from the parking lot to the back entrance of the bank because there is no crosswalk there. He said there is 

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one-way in and a one-way out and many times he sees cars flying out of there because no one knows there is a walkway into the bank there.  Mr. Ryan said they have the crosswalk for ADA along the rear curb going to the ramp.  Mr. Zignauskas said the people that park their car in the parking lot are not going walk through the bushes and then walk down the sidewalk to get into the building and he suggested some kind of hatching. Mr. O’Brien added that is a great recommendation to do a hatching from the entry way and across to the lot so that people can walk along to their cars.  Mr. Ryan asked to the rear of the striping and Mr. O’Brien responded they can do a hatch from the back entrance, directly out to the first stripe and along the first stripe to the back of the parking stall. He said by hatching it on the surface it will slow people who are flying through the stop to let pedestrians move through. Mr. O’Brien asked Mr. Ryan if that was acceptable and he responded yes.

Mr. O’Connor said he believes the applicant agrees to provide a revised striping plan and landscaping plan to replace dead plants for review on approval by the Board.

Mr. Thomas F. Pugsley, Jr. was sworn in by Mr. Giuditta.

Mr. Pugsley said he is a licensed engineer in the State of New Jersey and has been practicing engineering for the past 17 years. He currently works at NorthStar Design, LLC., 276 E. Asbury Anderson Road, Washington, NJ  07882.  Mr. O’Brien asked Mr. Pugsley to state some of the Boards that he has testified before  and  Mr. Pugsley responded, Cape May, Middle Township, Toms River, Brick Town, Parsippany, Hackensack.  Mr. O’Brien asked where he got his professional education and Mr. Pugsley responded Lehigh University. Mr. Lepore said the Board accepts his credentials as a professional witness.

Mr. Pugsley said he reviewed the engineer’s letter dated January 13, 2012.  He said there were four items that need to be addressed: 1) Consolidation of lots 13 & 14, based on discussions with the applicant, they are willing to perform the consolidation. 2) Regarding the number of parking spaces, he said he could not see the parking spaces from the survey but when he went into the survey file  he confirmed that the number of parking spaces under the existing and proposed are the same. He said basically it is shifting one space from where they currently are now to the other side and instead of 13 and 11, it will be 12 and 12.  He said the net numberof parking spaces do not change. Mr. O’Brien asked if they are in compliance with the Ordinance and Mr. Pugsley said yes and they will give a new copy of the survey which will actually depict the existing parking spaces for your verification.  3) Mr. Pugsley gave a copy of  some grading points which were marked as Exhibit A-1. Mr. O’Connor said the applicant has discussed some of that with him and they are satisfied that what is portrayed is accurate and acceptable.  He said the only other comment would be a detectable warning service.  Mr. Pugsleysaid they agreed to widen that to be the full width of the sidewalk. Mr. Lepore asked Mr. O’Connor if he was satisfied with that and he said yes.

Meeting Opened to the Public: Motion was made by Mr. Picerno, seconded by Mr. Pugliese to open the meeting to the public on Application #329.  All in favor.

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No one from the public wished to speak.

Meeting Closed to the Public:  Motion was made by Mr. Picerno, seconded by Mr. Sica to close the meeting to the public on Application #329.  All in favor.

Mr. O’Brien advised the Board that is has a two-step decision and the first step is to decide whether or not this application qualifies under the Minor Site Plan Ordinance.  He said in his planning report he has given his professional opinion that it does, however it is for the Board to make that decision.  The applicant has got to show you that less than 10% of the site is being disturbed in order to maintain its ability to be a minor site plan, plus show that there are no variances required.  You have had testimony this evening showing the extent of the improvement and showing that no variances are required so that is your first decision whether or not to accept this as a minor site plan.  He said should you accept this as a minor site plan, than the decision of the Board is to grant or not the Minor Site Plan Application.  Mr. Lepore confirmed with Mr. O’Brien that the Board needs to vote twice.

Mr. Giuditta said if approval was given it would be conditional upon the issues that were raised.

Approval for qualification of  under Minor Site Plan Ordinance

Motion was made by R. Picerno, seconded by Mr. Sica to approve that the application qualifies as a Minor Site Plan.  Mr. O’Brien added to find that this application qualifies.  Roll Call: Mr. Lepore voted yes, Mr. Picerno voted yes, Ms. Bogus voted yes, Mr. Cuppari voted yes, Mr. Sica voted yes, Mr. Pugliese voted yes, Mr. Zignauskas voted yes and Mr. Murphy voted yes. 

Approval for Minor Site Plan Application #329

Motion was made by R. Picerno, seconded by M. Bogus to approve Application #325, contingent upon the stipulationsfrom the Planner and the Engineer. Roll Call:  Mr. Lepore voted yes, Mr.  Picerno voted yes, Ms. Bogus voted yes, Mr. Cuppari voted yes, Mr. Sica voted yes, Mr. Pugliese voted yes, Mr. Zignauskas voted yes and Mr. Murphy voted yes.

Zoning Appeal

Mr. David Cunningham, 132 South 23rd Street, is appealing the denial of a zoning permit issued by Mr. Robert Herbert, Kenilworth Zoning Officer.  The permit is for an addition over an existing garage.

Mr. Cunningham was sworn in by Mr. Guiditta.

Mr. Cunningham submitted an aerial view (goggle) dated February 5, 2012 of the Quinton Avenue area including his property for the Board to review.  The photograph was marked as ExhibitA-1.

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Mr. O’Brien asked if Mr. Herbert would be making a presentation tonight and Ms. Bogus replied that he will not be present tonight.   Mr. Lepore asked if we have a statement from Mr. Herbert and Mr. Giuditta said we have his decision.

Mr. Cunningham said he is doing an addition because he is having his first child and he needs more space.  He said the plans were to go out 1 ½ ft. from the garage.  Mr. Cunningham said he brought an architect with him if the Board had any questions.

Mr. George Toma was sworn in by Nick Giuditta.

Mr. Toma said he is a licensed architect in New Jersey and New York and has testified in Union Township, East Brunswick, New Brunswick, Milltown, New York City.  Mr. Toma said he received his first degree from Cairo, Egypt and his first license was in New York State and now in New Jersey.

Mr. Toma said Mr. Cunningham would like to put a small addition above the garage.  He said basically the addition was to extend over the garage about 2 ft. He said the existing garageis about 1 ½ ft. beyond the set-back line and the permit was denied.  He said without the foot andhalf you would not any room because it would be an 8ft. room.  Mr. Tomasaid the zoning forR2  is 5 and 5 except for the corner lots.  Mr. Cunningham is asking for a waiver and it would be about 12 ft. above grade, the existing on the ground will remain the same.  He said if possible to go the 1 ½ ft.  that would be great and if not he would go straight up the wall.  Mr. Picerno said he is already 1 ½ ft. short on side-yard set-back but he wants to cantilever the top to go out 15 ft. so that the air space would be at 12 ½ ft. 

Mr. O’Brien said it might help to focus on the issue that is directly in front of us.  Mr. Cunningham has asked to appeal the decision of the Zoning Officer.  The Zoning Officer received Mr. Cunningham’s plans and said it violates the set-back to the street because he is on a corner lot.  The ordinance allows you to build straight up on an existing corner lot, on an existing building but you cannot intrude any further into the set-back according to the ordinance.  He said the very distinct issue in front of the Board, based up the application, is whether or not the Zoning Officer was right and said what you are proposing is a violation of the set back or that the Zoning Officer is wrong that there is no new violation of that set-back.  He said that is the issue in front of the Board, the Board cannot grant you relief from an issue in the Zoning Ordinance, you have to apply for a variance for that.  He said the narrow question you are asking tonight is “Did the Zoning Officer make the right decision in saying that what you are proposing further intrudes on the front yard set-back or not”.   He said your discussion before the Board should be whether or not you are worsening that set-back or keeping it the same.

Mr. Giudittaasked Mr. Toma if he wants to build a room above the garage and does the garage encroach into the set-back by about 1 ½ ft. and is the addition going to be even with the wall of the garage or is it going to out further to the side yard? Mr. Toma replied that the drawing shows

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it going out about 2 ft. further than the existing wall of the garage.  Mr. Toma asked if he went above the existing wall would that be an issue?  Mr. O’Brien replied if you go straight up from the current existing set back it is OK  but if you go any closer to the street it violates the front yard set-back and that requires a new variance.  He said if you are going to go straight up from the verticle level of the garage then you do not require a variance and that is the issue before the Board.  Mr. Toma asked, even if the existing garage is 1 ½ ft. over?  Mr. Toma said the discussion with Mr. Herbert was that they would need to back 1 ½ ft. into the garage.  Mr. O’Brien said that is why he denied you and Mr. Toma said Mr. Herbert said he wanted him to go back into the garage 1 ½ ft..Mr. O’Brien said that may be a matter of interpretation.

Mr. Giuditta said he thought what the applicant wanted to do was just go higher, straight up and add a room but stay within the existing set-back of 13 ft. which is technically a violation but it’s not really enlarging, but now it looks like he wants to go out another 1 ½ ft. closer to the street.  Mr. Toma said only if it is allowed, otherwise he will go straight up. 

Mr. Lepore said that is the interpretation of our ordinance, if you go straight up with the existing garage, you are in compliance and the minute you go over, you have to come back for a variance.

Mr. Picerno said you are here appealing the Zoning Officer’s decision and he is not here to

make a statement butI think that what he did was he gave you a denial letter because you wanted to cantilever the building.  Mr. Picerno said he would be right in that point by giving you a denial letter because according to the zoning ordinance you can’t do that. 

Mr. O’Brien said you either uphold the interpretation of the Zoning Officer or you find that it is incorrect and state why.

Mr. Giuditta said to Mr. Toma that going beyond the wall is definitely a variance and he thought Mr. Toma was here to appeal a determination that said he wants to build a room above the garage and stay within the existing set-back of 13 ft. which basically violates the ordinance.

Mr. Toma said if he gets the OK to go straight without going for a zoning variance he will do that but based on the discussion with Mr. Herbert, he said anything before the 15 ft. he has to go for a zoning variance. 

Mr. Lepore said even without seeing the plans he is sure that when Mr. Herbert looked at the floor plans he saw the cantilever and that is what he based the denial on. He said he is not sure because Mr. Herbert is not here.

Mr. Giuditta said that Mr. Herbert is pretty clear about what he is denying. 

Mr. Toma said he is not disagreeing with the Zoning Officer that if he goes out he needs a variance, the discussion with Mr. Herbert was can he go straight up.  He said if he got acceptance to go straight above without the zoning variance that is fine.

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Mr. Giuditta said that is what we thought we were here for, if you are here to ask if you can go straight up, there is still a question for the Board to decide whether that is a structural alteration that is further encroaching on the side-yard setback or not. 

Mr. Picerno said he was under the impression that he did not have to come before the Board and would just be issued a permit because he can go straight up even though it is in a non-conforming use.

Mr. Giuditta said if Mr. Herbert was shown these plans then it is clear a variance is needed and Mr. Pugliese said that we agree with Mr. Herbert’s judgment on the cantilever.

Mr. Lepore suggested Mr. Toma redraw the plans to meet the straight up version and then submit the plan to the Building Department.

Mr. O’Brien said it might be appropriate for the Board to issue an interpretation of the ordinance, the one that Mr. Giuditta sites, that would show the building straight up even though it is within the set-back, as long as it is not a new violation of the set-back and meets the ordinance requirement to go straight up and no further in.

Mr. Picerno said tonight we would have to uphold Mr. Herbert’s decision on the extension but at the same time advise what could be done to cut through the red tape at the Building Department.

Mr. O’Brien said the Board has to define what the ordinance says and the Board is not saying approve this application.  They are saying they find the ordinance does allow the building to go straight up, even though it violates the set-back as long as it is not a new violation.

Mr. Giuditta said if the Zoning Officer is presented with new plans that show what Kevin just stated, he would have to issue a permit. He said the Board has to interpret the ordinance tonight to mean that if the building goes straight up and does not further encroach, that it is a permitted use.

Mr. Pugliese said we have to have two votes, one on Mr. Herbert’s decision and the other on the ordinance itself as we interrupt it. 

Mr. O’Brien said it has to be a vote and official resolutionfrom the Board to the Building Department saying they have made an official decision.

Motion was made by Mr. Lepore, seconded by Mr. Pugliese to uphold the Zoning Officer’sruling as far as a new violation on the set-back. Roll Call:  A. Lepore voted yes, R. Picerno voted yes, M. Bogus voted yes, A. Cuppari voted yes, M. Sica voted yes, A. Pugliese voted yes, C. Zignauskas voted yes and T. Murphy voted yes.

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Motion made by A. Lepore, seconded by M. Bogus to inform the Building Department of theBoard’s interpretation of the Ordinance 197-62B(2). The Board finds that as long as theapplicant builds straight up, it is acceptable. Roll Call: :  A. Lepore voted yes, R. Picerno voted yes, M. Bogus voted yes, A. Cuppari voted yes, M. Sica voted yes, A. Pugliese voted yes, C. Zignauskas voted yes and T. Murphy voted yes.

Mr. Lepore advised Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Toma to revise their plans to show the building straight up the garage and hopefully with the second vote that we just did, it will expedite things.

Comments for the Good of the Board

Mr. Picerno stated that the Board had asked Mr. Appicie, who is the owner of the liquor store, to clean up his premises and make it look nice. He said he went by his place and it looks superb with the stucco work and it is bringing a whole new light to the neighborhood.  He said some of the other people in town may be continuing that stucco look to compliment the Boulevard. 

Mr. O’Brien commended Mr. Picerno for saying that because one of the problems with any planning, and we went through this with the Master Plan last year, is that people say things have been like that forever and even though we have had all these plans and resolutions, nothing has changed.  He said it is one property at a time as they come before you and they get their approvals and that is how it starts. 

Mr. Giuditta said that one thing he would strongly suggest is that if someone comes before the Board with an appeal for the Zoning Officer’s decision then the Zoning Officer should be present.  He said if the applicant did not have plans with him tonight we would not know the basis of the Zoning Officer’s decision.  Mr. Lepore said he would have postponed the hearing until the Zoning Officer was present.  Mr.Sica said that the Zoning Officer has been in the hospital.

Other Comments from Public

No one from the public wished to speak.

Adjournment

Motion was made by Mr. Picerno, seconded by Mr. Cuppari to adjourn the meeting.All in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Kathleen Jean Moschitta

Acting Planning Board Recording Secretary



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