ROXBURY, NJ – A body shop in Kenvil wants to substantially improve the appearance of its property and is asking Roxbury officials for permission.

Among the changes being proposed by C&L Auto Body and Towing on Route 46 is the removal of a house at the front of the property, conversion of another house – at the rear of the site – into a vehicle storage garage, relocation of the driveway, creation of a new parking lot and landscaping.

To accomplish the site improvements, C&L needs a “D” variance, which allows expansion of a non-conforming use, and several “C” variances that seek waivers from township design codes. The matter is scheduled to be heard by the Roxbury Zoning Board on April 9.

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In 2007, the board determined that while vehicle body work and painting are prohibited in the district, which is zoned B-2, C&L’s operations pre-dated the zoning law so the business could continue as a pre-existing, non-conforming use. However, the township code does not allow such businesses to change to other uses.

“The key question to be answered by the applicant is whether (the) proposed use is substantially similar to what (was) previously existing at the time of the ordinance adoption/2007 Zoning Board Resolution,” wrote Roxbury Township Planner Russell Stern in a review of C&L’s application. “Testimony should also address the extent to which the proposed uses are accessory to the principal use of the property.”

C&L does not appear to be proposing any new type of business at the site. Stern said the company’s plans, if approved, would actually bring the property more in tune with Roxbury’s vision for the zone.

“While the D-2 variance is required, it could be argued that merging the lots, elimination of the nonconforming dwellings and development of a formal parking lot and site driveway brings the site into greater conformity with the ordinance,” Stern wrote.

C&L owner Charles Napoli did not immediately return a message seeking an interview.

Cleaning Up the Place

In his review, Stern noted the C&L site’s current appearance leaves room for improvement.

“Existing outdoor storage consists of a multitude of operable vehicles, inutile and damaged vehicles, car parts, remnant parts, packaging, etc., which has spilled over into the adjoining lots and prohibited areas,” he wrote. “Shipping containers/trailers are currently being utilized for parts storage. It is recommended they be removed and the board considers a building expansion to either the new garage building and/or rear metal storage building.”

Stern also questioned the feasibility of C&L’s plan to convert into a garage the vacant house at the rear of the site, given the building’s condition. He said the building “is in such a state of disrepair that conversion to a garage appears unlikely,” and added, “The proposal will likely be new construction and the design of the structure should take that into consideration.”

Among the "nonconforming conditions" Stern found at the site were the spread of gravel, fencing, trailers, garbage containers, vehicles and parts onto adjacent property owned by Integra Management, the owners of the Drakesville condominium development. He also noted issues with lighting, landscaping, building setbacks from property lines and parking/traffic flow. 

The C&L property, adjacent to BMW of Roxbury, abuts another major site improvement proposal being heard by the zoning board, Fullerton Grounds Maintenance’s plan to convert a dilapidated former cement facility off of Hillside Avenue into its new headquarters.