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Fireworks at Hasbrouck Heights Planning Board Meeting

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The property at 50 Terrace Ave. Credits: Faith Armonaitis
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The secondary lot where Ace Solutions LLC rents 14 parking spaces. Credits: Faith Armonaitis
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HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ -  An application to add a second floor to the building at 50 Terrace Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights to the Hasbrouck Heights Zoning Board of Adjustment drew opposition and concern from neighbors at the June meeting held Thursday evening.  The Board also heard a request for a variance on a deck off the back of the house and improvements to the front of a house on Stanley Avenue. Nearly two hours was spent discussing the project.

The board first heard the application of Stephen Feuss of Stanley Avenue, who was requesting a zoning variance based of the initial plans drawn to replace a deck that had been torn down, which would be out of compliance by being above the three foot height limit, and also would be out of code by being only seven feet from the property line.

The homeowner explained that the plans were designed to match the deck to the height and width of the previous deck, with the only change being an extension of the deck seven feet to the back.  Feuss felt strongly that the variance on the height of the deck should be granted, based on safety issues, as it eliminated the requirement for steps going from the house to deck.

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He noted that he did not want “anyone falling down the steps as they went out,” noting he has a young daughter at home, and was concerned about the safety. He noted that while this was out of compliance, it matched the previously existing ledgerboard. He also noted that the request to bring the deck within the the 15 feet from the property line would move the edge of the deck to in front of the sliding door to the kitchen.

After debate back and forth, the discussion shifted to the front stairs, and the request to add a front porch to the house.  The variance required was for encroaching on the setback from the street. The board noted also that the proposed stairs would require a variance if they were wider than six feet, and the current plans were for stairs six feet, six inches wide.   After agreement that the stairs would be made compliant at six feet, the Board voted to approve the request for the front porch and stairs, but deny the application for the deck in the back.

The Board noted that while they understood the reasons for the homeowners’ requests with the deck, that they felt bringing the property back into compliance was important.  

The proposal by Ace Solutions LLC, the owner of 50 Terrace Avenue, to add a second story to the commercial space that they operating an HVAC business to add office space.   As part of the presentation by Ace Solutions’ legal counsel, William Torre , Esq, of Hasbrouck Heights, noted that his client (Joon Hung) wished to, as part of the construction, give the building a more residential look to fit into the neighborhood better.  

Ace was also represented throughout the hearing by Mark Stefanelli, of MAS Architects.  Torre, noted that Stefanelli was also a resident of Hasbrouck Heights, and a former school board member.

The request was not viewed favorably by one of his neighbors on Main Street, Joseph Anzevino, who noted to the board that the workers from Ace Solutions began arriving at work at 6:45 each morning and were quite noisy, loading their trucks.

William Kremer, the board Chairman, stopped Anzevino, who noted there would be time for editorializing at the end, but this was a time for questions on the project. Kremer also noted that this was an enforcement issue, not a zoning issue, and the board only had the power to rule on zoning issues.

Kremer also noted throughout the proceedings, that the property in question was, a non-conforming business property in a residential area.   He also noted that the owners of the non-conforming property had the right to continue operating their business, and that concerns about how they did so were not under the authority of the zoning board.

Renee Mucci, also of Main Street, questioned if the 14 parking spaces that are currently rented by Hong, were going to be impacted by the project. Hong stated that they were not. It was established that Hong rents out 14 to 15 parking spots to the residents of the apartments at 101 Terrace Avenue.

The parking spots would be a main part of the discussion later in the meeting, as the Board sought to help improve the lot, and make it fit more into a residential neighborhood.  Issues around the number of spots, the legality of the size (9 by 18 vs 9 by 20) of the spaces, the requirement for a handicapped space, also appeared.

The board asked if Hung could give up some of his parking spaces to provide a bit of landscaping in order to provide a more residential look.  Which brought up the second set of complaints against Hung by residents of Main Street, the lack of maintenance done on the property. Several times as they were discussing adding green space to the property,  complaints about how the property was not currently maintained were directed to the board.

Kremer reiterated that those complaints were not zoning board issues, and should be directed to the town’s property maintenance division.  Kremer did add his personal belief (on different occasions), that the town’s efforts in that area could “be better” and were not as good as they could be.

Ralph Rypkemma, from Cleveland Ave, when addressing concerns about where runoff from the property would go, noted that his property had poison ivy growing over the fence from the Ace Solutions property.

By the end of the meeting the Board had sent the proposal back to the engineer to develop incorporate the changes to the plan had been discussed during the meeting. Those changes include:

  1. Elimination of one of the four curb cuts (the one of Main St. closest to the corner)

  2. Elimination of two/three parking spaces to add green space to provide a more residential look

  3. In re-designing the parking spaces, making one space handicap compliant according to American Disabilities Act guideline. Space would have to be able to accommodate a van.

  4. Changing the drainage so that all the storm-water drains onto impervious surfaces

The new proposal will be heard at the July 26 meeting.

 

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