Haddon Heights Planning Board Approves Garage Construction Amid Variances and Conditions

In a decision at the Haddon Heights Planning Board meeting on February 15, 2024, the board approved the construction of a large garage for George and Maria Gara on their 38th Avenue property, following rigorous debate over variances and conditions. Despite concerns raised about the garage’s height, size, and design, the board ultimately sanctioned the project, stipulating the use of residential siding and a comprehensive grading plan.

The case of George and Maria Gara took center stage during the meeting as they sought approval for a 26 by 26-foot garage with an ambitious height of 29 feet, designed with attic trusses to provide additional storage space. The proposed structure raised eyebrows due to its dimensions, which exceeded the standard garage height and size permitted by local zoning regulations. The discussion unfolded with a meticulous examination of the garage’s design, materials, and potential impact on the neighborhood’s character. Board members grappled with the technical details, including existing non-conformities and the implications for the surrounding properties.

One of the pivotal topics was the garage’s siding. A board member advocated for residential siding over an industrial appearance, emphasizing the need to maintain the residential character of the neighborhood. The applicant explained the practicality of the garage, which was to house items currently stored outside. The board also weighed the necessity of electricity in the garage, considering the weight of the garage door and the possibility that a door opener might be required.

The applicants faced the challenge of justifying the need for the variances requested. The board debated the burden of proof, with members demanding a convincing rationale that the oversized structure would not disrupt the existing zoning purposes or the aesthetic of the area. After thorough deliberations, a motion was made and seconded to approve the application, contingent upon the inclusion of residential siding and adherence to a specific grading plan. The project was approved with these conditions.

In addition to the crucial garage application, the board announced the adjournment of two cases, the 38th Avenue case and the Uno LLC case, to a future date without necessitating further notice. The board then unanimously appointed Perry as the conflict solicitor, the sole respondent to the solicitation. The approval of the January 18, 2024, minutes unfolded next, with corrections made regarding the classification of certain board members, leading to the final approval of the minutes as amended.

The meeting also carved out time for public comment, allowing community members to voice their opinions before the board proceeded with its agenda. Furthermore, the board discussed a sign and took note of a potential revision to another party’s application. The session concluded with plans for the next steps for the approved garage project, which involved the preparation of a resolution and the publication of the decision in the local newspaper.

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 Houck
Planning Board Officials:
Chris Philipps, Chris Morgan, Ptl. Michael Famular, Jennifer Bonaccorsi, Dean Doukakis, Jeff Hanson, Mike Madden, Brian Shannon, John Schmidt, Suzanne Ritter (Planning Board Secretary)

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