Zoning Board Changes Leadership, Addresses Plans

Photo by Stephanie A. Faughnan

  HOWELL – The Zoning Board of Adjustment zoomed through a number of items on October 3, starting with some internal leadership changes.

  Paul Sayah oversaw the meeting as he has for the last six months as the zoning board’s vice chairman. Sayah announced that Wendall Nanson submitted his resignation from the board due to health reasons. Nanson had served as the zoning board chairman.

  Not seeing the need to discuss replacement roles in Executive Session, board members voted unanimously to elevate Sayah as chairman. Richard Mertens, who served as the board’s secretary, will now assume the vice chair position. In addition, members voted for Matthew Hughes III to replace Mertens as board secretary. The three new roles are only in place until the end of 2022.

  Marc Parisi was sworn in at the meeting as an alternate member to allow the board to have a full complement of participants. Parisi also serves as the vice president of Freehold Regional High School Board of Education.

  After discussions concerning updates to the membership roster, the board memorialized three resolutions from applications previously considered and approved. All received unanimous consent.

  The first item for consideration was an extension of time request submitted on behalf of GF United Realty, LLC. The applicant has already received a conditional use variance and preliminary and final major site plan approval to construct an addition to an auto repair/car rental building and make other changes. The premises, located at 414 Route 9 South, is known as GF United Auto Service.

  Attorney David A. Weinstein spoke on behalf of the applicant and offered expert witness testimony to explain the reasons for the request for an extension of time.

  John Ploskonka, a licensed professional engineer, presented a short timeline of the application. GF first received board approval in December 2020. However, the engineer hired to work on the project never got the work done, and GF retained Ploskonka to undertake compliance. The engineer said that new laws suggested the original approval needed an update.

Some leadership changes and a new board member is sworn in at this month’s Zoning Board Meeting. (screenshot by Stephanie Faughnan)

  “The resolution or approval indicated that the proposed electrical vehicle charging station would display a sign saying it was not available for public use,” shared Ploskonka. “Now, since 2020, that’s been changed with a lot more legislation, and they’re making it open to the public.”

  Weinstein initially suggested that the board might want to consider amending the existing approval to include language that the electrical charging stations would be available to the public.

  “We would like to amend the variance to allow for the EV public use charging stations,” Weinstein said. “This will allow my clients the benefit of the numerous state and federal grants associated with public charging stations.”

  The applicant’s attorney indicated that making the electric vehicle charging stations available to the public would also benefit Howell Township. The community would be able to advertise there was an EV station open to the public along the Route 9 corridor.

  The consensus was that the variance resolution could not be amended because of legal notice issues. Therefore, the board voted to approve the extension of time and advised Weinstein to work with the township planner and engineer concerning the electrical charging stations.

  Prince of Peace Lutheran Church also appeared before the zoning board to request an extension of time on a Minor Subdivision approval on their property located at 434 Aldrich Road.

  Attorney Allen Kaplan appeared on behalf of the applicant and explained that his client needed an extension time because of difficulties connecting with various government agencies. Kaplan singled out the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as creating the largest delays.

  Kaplan outlined steps taken to comply with various entities up until the request for final approval went to the DEP.

  “In all honesty, it’s been a total nightmare,” said Kaplan. “It lingered there for well over a year…It was lost there. You couldn’t get a person on the phone.”

  The project just received DEP approval, with one remaining step needed to be in compliance. A bond will be posted once the engineering department sets the amount. Board members all agreed to grant the requested extension of time.

  For the balance of their meeting, the zoning board listened to testimony regarding a bulk variance request for a single residential home located at 26 Alexis Drive. The applicant plans to construct an expanded paver patio around an existing swimming pool. Additionally, the variance request involves an exterior fireplace, exterior cooking station, retaining wall, vinyl fence, masonry pillars, accessory shed, driveway expansion, hot tub improvements, and more.

  After listening to extensive testimony from professionals retained by the applicant, the zoning board approved the final application.

  The Howell Township Zoning Board of Adjustment is scheduled to meet again on October 24. However, there is a chance the board will cancel the meeting with no applications currently earmarked for that date.