Glen Rock Zoning Board Sets Precedent in Interpretation of Floor Area Ordinance

The Glen Rock Zoning Board, in a series of detailed discussions and decisions at a recent meeting, set a precedent in interpreting an ordinance regarding the calculation of gross floor area in homes with sloping roofs. The board also dealt with zoning applications involving uniquely shaped properties.

The meeting was marked by a meticulous examination of the local zoning ordinance related to the calculation of gross floor area. The board members deliberated on two interpretations of the ordinance while assessing an application for the addition of dormers to a building. The crux of the matter was understanding how to measure floor areas under sloping roofs, which must have a headroom of at least five feet, six inches and make up at least 50% of a room’s space.

A board member explained two methods of interpreting the ordinance. Method One posits that any area under a sloping roof where less than 50% of the space has a ceiling height of at least 7’6″ should not be included in the floor area calculations. Method Two suggests only including the area that has the 7’6″ ceiling height. Both methods led to the conclusion that a variance was not needed for the application in question.

Board members acknowledged that interpretation of this ordinance has been contentious and commended Method One as a fair means of determining floor area, which could be useful for reviewing future plans. However, there was concern about setting a standard for interpreting the ordinance based on this single case, especially given that most cases do not involve sloping roofs.

In a related discussion, the board debated over a variance application concerning a century-old building. The variance in question involved Method One and Method Two, leading to an extended discourse about whether the decision would set a precedent for future applications. A motion was finally passed to adopt Method One for this specific application, reflecting the need for clearer guidelines while interpreting zoning ordinances.

A separate item on the agenda involved an application for a uniquely shaped property at 15, 22 Afternoon. Architect Scott Bella presented the case for three variances related to setbacks, citing the irregular shape of the lot as a hardship. Bella explained, “The property is awkwardly shaped with a pie shape that narrows as it goes back, unlike a standard rectangular lot.” He further detailed their plans to replace a non-conforming rear yard deck with a patio to conform with regulations, and assured the board that the impact on neighboring properties would be minimal. The board approved the application unanimously.

In the end, the board’s complex task of interpreting and applying zoning laws not only resulted in decisions impacting current applications but also set the stage for future interpretations of zoning ordinances. The meeting underscored the significance of clarity and consistency in interpreting and applying zoning regulations, setting a precedent that is likely to impact future zoning decisions in Glen Rock.

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Planning Board Members:
Glen Rock

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