Bernardsville Planning Board Tackles Right of Way Disputes

In a recent Bernardsville Planning Board meeting, a portion of the discussion centered on resolving a longstanding right of way dispute between property owners through a lot line adjustment. This complex case involved the creation of separate entryways on Spruce Place and transfer of ownership of the right of way to one of the lots, which would relieve other lots of associated liabilities. The board also approved an ordinance allowing the borough to charge for professional engineer services and discussed variances required for lot 901, including a maximum lot coverage variance and a driveway setback variance.

The board delved into the details of a request by property owners Angela Paletta and Adam Zg for a lot line adjustment to rectify an issue stemming from a 1987 subdivision, which resulted in an oversized lot lacking proper frontage. The proposal sought to amicably resolve a dispute between neighbors over rights to a right of way and property access by transferring the right of way to one of the lots, thus creating two distinct driveways on Spruce Place. The board scrutinized the implications of the lot line adjustment on the affected properties, engaging in a thorough discussion about the rights to the right of way, access to the properties, and the establishment of separate driveways.

Further complicating matters, the board examined another lot line adjustment involving a gravel driveway and the transfer of land between three lots. This adjustment was intended to maintain conformity in lot sizes. The debate centered on whether the proposed adjustment would result in sufficient frontage for one of the lots, as the required frontage was 50 feet but the adjustment would only provide 35.2 feet. Concerns were also raised regarding the maintenance of the gravel driveway and the possibility of gravel spilling onto the adjacent road. The idea of paving the driveway was discussed, but it was acknowledged that this would require consent from other property owners and might necessitate an amendment to the agreement.

In relation to the lot adjustments, the board discussed the necessity of paving the driveway for Lot 901. The conversation included the potential use of pavers within the right of way to prevent gravel from spilling onto Spruce Run. Conditions of approval were debated, such as the need for property line markers and the appropriate width of access to the street. Variances were requested for Lot N, which included the driveway setback, street access, and frontage width. The board scrutinized the technicalities of whether the corridor meets the 50-foot requirement and the specific requirements for Lot 901’s access frontage.

The board further reviewed variances and setbacks for lots 901 and 9, where the necessity and impact of the required variances for lot 901 were debated. Despite the required variances, the board noted that the proposed changes for lot 901 would reduce the impervious coverage and the existing conditions for the driveway setback would be maintained. The board discussed the hardship requirements due to the lot shape and the potential neighborhood impact, with one member suggesting the benefits of the proposed changes overshadowed any detriments.

During the meeting, a member of the public raised questions regarding the right of way across the locus property and the potential for creating a throughway from Spruce to Sen. The board addressed these concerns by clarifying that the lot line adjustment would not establish a public throughway, as the right of way is governed by a private agreement among property owners.

The board also tackled administrative matters, including the approval of an ordinance that would permit the borough to charge fees for using professional engineer services for the planning board. The ordinance is seen as a measure to ensure that the borough engineer’s role is confined to providing data rather than making judgment calls.

Additionally, the board approved the payment of bills totaling $23,812, which were primarily for legal representation and engineering work related to three applications. There was also a decision to review changes to the recreational plan and schedule a public hearing for the sustainability plan, with the intent to incorporate climate change initiatives in collaboration with the Office of Emergency Management.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Mary Jane Canose
Planning Board Officials:
Graham Macmillan, Chad McQueen, Karen Gardner, Robert Graham, Jeffrey Horowitz, Mary Kellogg, Christopher Otteau, Hal Simoff, Denise Filardo (Board Administrative Officer)

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