Fair Haven Zoning Board Greenlights Waterfront Property Renovation Amidst Debates on Variances and Land Use
The Fair Haven Zoning Board recently approved a renovation and expansion project for a waterfront property on River Road despite numerous variances and land use concerns. The project, proposed by homeowners Dennis and Stella Ryan, includes plans to renovate the existing structure and expand it by 700 square feet while maintaining the home’s front integrity. The board’s decision came after discussions about existing non-conformities, proposed changes, and their potential impact on the neighborhood.
The Ryan’s application was the main focus of the meeting. The proposed changes involved several variances due to existing non-conformities and new ones related to lot area, frontage width, depth, setback, lot coverage, floor area ratio, building coverage, number of stories, and side yard setback. Discussions also revolved around the effect of the high water line on the lot’s boundaries, the existing basement’s functionality, and the proposed floor plan, including the garage and parking arrangements. Mr. Candoras, the architect, emphasized the design’s intention to keep the massing and height consistent with the existing structure based on the neighborhood’s context.
The board also addressed the existing parking arrangement and the potential need for a variance for parking in the front yard. The number of parking spaces and their compliance with zoning requirements were questioned, sparking further debate on the existing parking spaces in the front yard, the garage’s capacity, and the need for additional parking space behind the setback.
Stormwater management was a concern for the board, especially considering the property’s waterfront location. The project team stated they are not making changes to the grading and do not expect the site’s functionality to change. They also noted that they do not propose to install a dry well for stormwater. This prompted suggestions from the board for underground water management and measures to prevent runoff during and after construction.
Also under scrutiny was the property’s history and its unique challenges due to its location in the R20 zone. The board expressed concern about high lot coverage, non-conformities, and the impact on the river. However, the applicant’s representatives highlighted the compliance with maximum floor area and alignment with the objectives of the Municipal Land Use Law. They also stressed their efforts to maintain the character of the neighborhood and use the land efficiently.
The proposal to repurpose a former bank building into a wellness center was another significant point of discussion. The board reviewed various exhibits related to the application, including architectural plans and site surveys. The board heard from the applicant’s architect and professional engineer regarding site layout, parking requirements, and stormwater management for the proposed use. Concerns were raised about the existing fence’s proximity to the proposed parking spaces and the impact of vehicles potentially protruding beyond the designated parking area.
The board delved into the design of the parking lot, with considerations for traffic flow, sidewalk placement, and employee parking. The placement of three proposed lights to enhance safety in the parking lot was debated, focusing on their potential impact on neighboring residential properties. Landscaping considerations, including tree replacement and compliance with ordinance requirements for street trees, were also discussed.
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Zoning Board Officials: