Cape May Zoning Board Approves Variances for Historic Home Renovations and Discusses Public Comment Inclusion

At the recent Cape May Zoning Board meeting, attention was devoted to the approval of a series of variances required for the renovation of a historic property owned by Thomas and Gigi Lord. The board also deliberated on the inclusion of a public comments section during meetings and voted to allow it, despite some concerns. The meeting progressed to approve resolutions for various properties, including the Castleton, Basset family LLC, and Cape Home Investment LLC.

The Lords’ property, a cherished family home for over a century, was at the forefront of the discussion. The proposed renovations included the construction of an elevator and the rebuilding of a garage, in line with Historic Preservation Commission guidelines. These renovations necessitated variances due to increased lot coverage, floor area ratio, and altered setbacks. Tom Lord emphasized the family’s deep roots in the property and their desire to continue their legacy while accommodating their needs for aging in place.

Architect Aine Lence presented a case for the project, focusing on the balance between maintaining the property’s historical significance and introducing modern amenities for accessibility. The board evaluated the necessity of the variances, particularly concerning the elevator and the garage’s impact on lot coverage and setbacks. Lence cited the Americans with Disabilities Act to underline the importance of accessibility modifications, such as the proposed elevator, which blended into the historical character of the house.

During the meeting, discussions about the porch extension on another property involved the visual appeal and necessity of variance for the enclosure with screens. The board eventually approved the variances for the porch project.

Public comments were welcomed by the board, with residents and acquaintances of the Lord family expressing support for the renovations. Speakers highlighted the project’s compliance with FEMA and stormwater ordinances and its potential to maintain the neighborhood’s character. The board showed particular interest in the preservation of a crepe myrtle tree next to the garage, which held sentimental value for the property owners.

The board also addressed stormwater issues, the impact of lot coverage on the drainage system, and the proposed increase in floor area ratio. The discussion extended to the practicalities of relocation and construction of the garage, including the inclusion of an HVAC system and whether it classified the space as habitable. Conditions such as prohibiting habitable space over the garage and disallowing running water and sewer lines on the second floor were debated before the board passed a motion to approve the garage variance.

The approval of bill payments raised concerns among some members regarding their expertise to vote on these matters. A suggestion was made to refer the issue to the city manager for further consideration.

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.
Zachary Mullock
Zoning Board Officials:
Norman Ledwin, Mary Notch, Stacy Sheehan, Sam Venuto, Timothy Walsh, Theresa Werner, Marvin Zektzer, Tom Cataldo, Steve Bodnar

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