Zoning Board Reappoints Chairman

Board of Adjustment Board Attorney John Miller, left, swears in Chairman Harvey Langer. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

BRICK – The Township Board of Adjustment held its organizational meeting on January 18 and once again named Harvey Langer as chairman. Frank Mizer was named vice-chairman.

The function of the board is to hear requests from residents and business owners for variances, which is essentially permission to do something that is contrary to zoning regulations.

“It’s when they want to build differently than what’s allowed,” Langer explained after the meeting.

“For example, if someone wants to build 15 feet from the property line, but they’re required to build 25 feet, they have to come before us,” he said.

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The board is made up of nine members – seven regular members who vote, and two alternates who only vote if a regular member is absent. It is authorized to hear and decide appeals of any order, requirement, or decision involving the enforcement of township zoning ordinances and requests for interpretation of the zoning map or zoning ordinances for residents and developers.

There are two types of variances, Langer explained: use variances and bulk variances.

A use variance is when someone wants to use a piece of property to build something where zoning says it cannot be, for which five votes are needed. Variance requests may be for fences, sheds, porches, decks and pools, as well as for major and minor subdivisions.

Bulk variances include things like setbacks, lot coverage, building height and more, he said. To approve a bulk variance, a simple majority of board members is required.

“Every case relies on its own merits. There are no across-the-board set rules. Each case is different, so we look at the individual circumstances,” Langer said.

The Board of Adjustment gets many requests to build on undersized lots, and for one reason or another the applicant is unable to “adhere exactly to the zoning laws, and we can give them relief,” he said.

“We might say yes. We see what the neighborhood looks like to make sure [the request] is not changing the neighborhood drastically,” Langer said. “There are a lot of variables and no two applications are the same. They are very subjective and each has a where, a how, and a why.”

The most common requests are for fences and sheds, he said. “How big is the lot? What size is the property? That is the criteria,” he said. “There is no blanket of approving everything or denying everything.”

Residents who volunteer as members of the Board of Adjustment are appointed by the township council, explained Mayor John G. Ducey after the meeting.

  At the end of 2016, the mayor asked for resumes, which the council reviews during the first nine or ten days of the new year, he explained.

“They make the appointments based on the resumes. For example, new member David  Chadwick was an officer in the US Marine Corps. He managed major civil engineering projects, and he was a CFO for a corporation,” Ducey said. “He had an impressive resume.”

Langer – who has served on the board on and off for about 10 years – has served as chairman for five or six times, he said. He is retired from Verizon, where he was a facilities technician for 31 years and worked as a deputy zoning officer in Toms River.

He said he volunteers his time on the Board of Adjustment to serve the town and help the town.

“I’ve lived here for 42 years and I care about this town,” he said

During the organizational meeting, professional appointments were named for board attorney John Miller and a board engineer Brian Boccanfuso to advise the members.

In addition to Langer, Mizer and Chadwick, the other board members are Dawn Marie White, Louis Sorrentino, Stephen Leitner, and Mike Jamnick. Raymond Claudio is alternate one and Carl Anderson is alternate two.

The Board of Adjustment meetings are held on the first and third Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.