Fort Lee Board Navigates Complex Zoning, Approves Major Residential and Commercial Plans

In an recent meeting of the Fort Lee Board of Adjustment on June 13, 2023, several critical issues of residential and commercial development in the borough were discussed. The board, chaired by D. Sugarman, deliberated on numerous dockets that could potentially alter the local landscape.

The session was characterized by several important decisions. In a move set to please homeowners Andreas & Susan Meyer, the board approved Docket #14-23, a proposal to construct an addition to their Single Family Dwelling. The decision was unanimous, with a vote of 4-0.

Phil Art Studios SCI TOEF, Inc., Docket #18-23, sparked debate, with the matter deferred to the meeting of June 27, 2023. The discussion centers around an amended preliminary and final major site plan for a Two-Story Art Studio Over Parking.

One of the more contentious discussions of the evening was Docket #11-23, where Hemant & Sangita Prajapati sought an amended building height for their Single Family Dwelling. Despite initial disagreement over potential fire safety issues, the board approved the request after Architect Frank Troia assured them there would be no rooftop equipment, and a letter from the Fire Department cleared any objections. The application was passed on a vote of 5-0, with Chairman Sugarman abstaining.

In a significant decision, Docket #38-22 saw Y&K Realty Inc. & ZYST, LLC, present a bifurcated application for a Use Variance. The proposal to transform an auto body shop into a low-traffic, income-generating self-storage facility is a substantial move towards reutilization of commercial spaces in Fort Lee. The proposal, requiring multiple variances, was accepted by the board on the condition that no perishable goods, toxic materials, flammable substances, cars, or boats would be stored, and the space would not be used for unlawful purposes.

In the residential zoning segment, the board greenlit two considerable housing proposals. Docket #8-23 saw the approval of a two-unit dwelling by 1 Casper Lane, LLC, at 1 Casper Lane. The vote was 5-0, with Mr. Liapes dissenting. Despite requiring multiple variances, the property, identified as Block 3561, Lot 4, was approved to be developed into a two-unit dwelling. The structure, designed by Architect James McNight, includes a concrete retaining wall with drainage and seepage pits, two driveways, and an open floor plan with three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

The second significant housing decision was Docket #13-23, where Rock Solid Built, LLC, proposed a three-unit dwelling at 410 Catherine Street. The current two-story brick and frame dwelling on the 75×100 feet lot is to be replaced by a larger three-unit structure, complete with drainage improvements and landscaping. The design for the four-story structure, detailed by Architect Vassilios Cocoros, includes a recreation room, utility room, and bathroom in the basement, living area on the main floor, bedrooms on the second floor, and a wet bar and a powder room in the partial attic. The proposal was approved unanimously with a 6-0 vote.

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