Hillsdale Planning Board Tries to Balance Patio Expansions and Green Space

In a recent meeting of the Hillsdale Borough Planning Board, the community witnessed a lively discussion around impervious coverage limitations, revealing the balance between maintaining green space and accommodating residents’ desires for property development.

Joe Anthony Dominguez, a resident of Hillsdale, sparked a noteworthy conversation when he raised concerns about the limitations on impervious coverage on properties with drainage pits. Dominguez, contemplating a patio expansion, questioned, “If property has drainage pits where all of the impervious coverage or majority of sections of impervious coverage are going into drainage pits, should that still count towards the 30 like 100 coverage or should it count maybe like 50 like impervious or impervious?”

Dominguez’s inquiry stemmed from his understanding that the purpose of limiting impervious coverage to 30% was to prevent excessive runoff and thereby ease the load on the sewage and water systems. His property, already equipped with seepage tanks, was nearing the limit at 28% impervious coverage, prompting him to seek clarity on potential expansions.

The board members elucidated the multifaceted nature of impervious coverage limitations, explaining that these regulations were not solely about managing runoff. They were introduced during the “mcmansion era” to balance the size of homes in the community, maintain green space, and prevent excessive hardscaping. A board member clarified, “The purpose of the impervious coverage along with the FAR is… to sort of maximize the size of homes in the community, not a lot. So it’s like a balance.”

While seepage tanks and other mitigation measures could address runoff, they did not provide a solution to exceeding impervious coverage limitations. The board emphasized the importance of green space, stating, “A lot of it’s called Green Space too. That’s a green one, just not hardscaping basically.”

Dominguez was informed that if he were to apply for a variance due to exceeding impervious coverage, the board would consider various mitigation measures, such as using pervious pavers and additional seepage tanks to balance the runoff from the expanded patio. A suggestion was made about potentially substituting roof water for patio runoff to maintain balance. The board member mentioned, “Sometimes we’ll take the roof water and substituted for your patio… we sort of balance it that way.”

However, the board was cautious about suggesting specific solutions without a formal application and advised Dominguez to consult with the zoning official and engineering professionals before proceeding. They commended him for seeking guidance before making any changes and emphasized that any application requiring an impervious coverage variance would be thoroughly considered. The board member stated, “All those things are things that the board would consider if you applied for a variance for improvement should exceed the impervious walk coverage.”

The board also clarified that the impervious coverage limitations and FAR worked together to maintain a balance in the community. They noted that Hillsdale’s regulations were not as strict as those in some other towns, but they had found a good balance through the combination of the two ordinances. The board member explained, “Our FAR isn’t as strict as some other towns, nor is our impervious coverage. But working together, the two ordinances, we came up with a good balance.”

Dominguez’s property was identified as one of the new constructions on Washington, and it was noted that the drainage systems were already in place. The discussion revealed that while Dominguez was primarily concerned about runoff, the board had to consider multiple factors, including maintaining green space and the overall balance in the community. The board member reiterated, “The runoff is mitigated because I have the seepage tank. So that’s in general… but FAR would still be an issue where I’d probably need a variance for my pavers anyway.”

In conclusion, the board encouraged Dominguez to consult with professionals and the zoning official, Steve Lewis, to update his existing site plan and perform the necessary calculations before applying for any variance. They reassured him that his proactive approach was appreciated and that any future application would be given due consideration. The meeting was then adjourned, with the next public hearing scheduled for Thursday, October 12th, 2023, at 7:30 in the Borough Hall council chambers.

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.
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