Summit Board of Adjustment Upholds Zoning Officer’s Ruling in Favor of Linda Lane Development

The Summit Board of Adjustment voted to a uphold city zoning determination that the home construction falls within city zoning ordinance requirements. Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit

SUMMIT, NJ—The Summit Board of Adjustment has voted 5-2 to uphold city zoning officer Christa Anderson’s determination that home construction on property running between Ashland Road and Linda Lane falls within city zoning ordinance requirements.

 Residents of Linda Lane, led by Lori Ingerman of 19 Linda Lane, whose property is next to the development site -- which the builder wants to be designated at “21 Linda Lane” -- contend that the proposed residence should properly be addressed as “223 Ashland Road” because there is insufficient frontage of the on Linda Lane to allow the address to be located on that street.

They also said the builder has “deforested” the property of “nearly 40 trees” and the location of the front door of the new home, facing the side of the home rather than the street, and the proposed front yard setback do not meet Summit zoning requirements.

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At a recent Summit Common Council meeting, Ingerman said the lot is only 55 feet at its widest point and the property has less than 25 feet of frontage on Linda Lane, and the building plan calls for a very long, narrow, ‘railroad-type’ house situated sideways on the lot, not actually facing either street.”

The main house, she added, would be 4,500 square feet and the development would include a three-car, attached garage with a guest residence built on top.

The resident said she and her neighbors also were concerned establishment of a “through lot” with an an entrance to the property on Linda Lana and creation of the lot front on the street on which it has a lesser amount of frontage would violate the zoning ordinance.

She added the proposed development would create additional traffic, activity and visitor parking on “a very small, residential street."

At the zoning board meeting, however, board of adjustment counsel Dennis Galvin said the only two issues that were in the purview of the board were whether the development properly was situated on a “through lot” and if the proposed setback requirements were met under the city’s zoning law.

Anderson, at the zoning board hearing, said the “through lot,” that results in a connection between Ashland Road and Linda Lane and creation of the lot frontage on Linda Lane. was properly in existence because there is 25 feet of frontage on Linda Lane.

She added that the frontage on Linda Lane also was made possible because of the extension of Linda Lane in 1978.

The zoning officer also said that the ordinance provides that, where a through lot connects two streets of different classifications, the entrance to the through lot must be located on the street with the “lower” classification.

She said since Ashland Road is a “secondary arterial road” and Linda Lane is a “local street,” the lot entrance must be located on Linda Lane.

The fact that previous residences on the property had the address of 223 Ashland Road did not carry weight in the current situation, Anderson noted.

The adjustment board also sided with Anderson in her contention that zoning rules allow for location of the front door on the portion of the home facing neither street and that the proposed development follows proper setback requirements.

When the vote was taken, Board members MaryBeth Robb and David Trone disagreed with the findings, while Steve Bowman, Jesse Butler, Mark Hurrell, Michael Lisowski and Christopher Dunn voted to uphold the zoning officer’s ruling.

During public testimony, former Summit planning board and zoning board member, Vicki Weber, who lives at 17 Linda Lane, said that the city’s ongoing revamping of its master plan would provide the perfect opportunity to support her neighbors by “creating conformity over time” and not allowing developments such as the one before the board to be created.

Weber added that the city did not ask the builder to create the development as he was doing. He asked to do it this way -- so there was room for interpretation.

At the council session she had contended that, “while Linda Lane may be a lower classification street, the property at 223 Ashland Road has dramatically insufficient frontage on Linda Lane, perhaps as little as 20 to 25 feet where the space regulations require 90 feet. It is true that the frontage on Ashland Road is also below the requirement, but at 55 feet it has more than twice the street frontage than that facing Linda Lane. In addition, this lot has historically fronted Ashland Road, as do nearly all of its neighboring properties on the north side of that street. Moving the address and the driveway to Linda Lane would have a negative effect by resulting in less overall compliance to our zoning ordinances.”

Weber, when speaking before the council, also noted, “changing the address of this property by moving the driveway to Linda Lane would reduce the compliance not only of the property itself, but also of the streetscape of Linda Lane, where all the other houses have substantially larger street frontage and are thus situated to ‘belong’ to this small neighborhood. It would also reduce the compliance of the streetscape along Ashland Road by turning what was once a front yard into an effective rear yard, in opposition to the other houses on that side of the street.”

After the zoning board ruling Ingerman told TAPinto Summit that she and her neighbors had not decided whether to appeal the ruling in New Jersey Superior Court.

Galvin said at the beginning of the hearing that any party wishing to appeal to superior court had 45 days from the date of the Summit Board of Adjustment hearing to file that appeal.

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