Livingston Council Debates Variances for Residential Additions

The Livingston Town Council recently engaged in discussions over several proposed residential construction projects that required variances due to non-compliance with existing zoning regulations. The most debated project was a proposed addition on Hazelwood Avenue, which involved seeking variances for front and side yard setbacks, aggregate side yard, and habitable floor area ratio. The architect’s plan aimed to create space for an electric vehicle, a guest bedroom, and additional living space, but it faced scrutiny due to concerns over stormwater drainage, the impact on neighboring properties, and the preservation of the neighborhood’s character.

The Hazelwood Avenue project became a focal point as the council deliberated on various criteria for granting a variance. The discussion addressed concerns about the potential loss of open space and encroachment on adjacent properties. The property’s architect and a planning expert, Charles Baldanza, provided insights into the necessity of the variances, citing the property’s exceptional narrowness and alignment with the town’s master plan. Baldanza emphasized the project’s compliance with the statutory criteria and how it would serve the purposes of zoning by reducing impervious lock coverage and maintaining single-family dwelling status.

The debate culminated in the applicant’s representative requesting an adjournment to a future meeting to allow for further review and revision of the plans, thus deferring the decision to either March or April, depending on the board and applicant’s readiness.

In a similar vein, another contentious application involved a two-car garage sought by Gary and Darice Taro, which required a height variance for an accessory building. The applicants faced questions about the potential for converting the garage into living space and agreed to a deed restriction to prevent this. The architect argued that the aesthetic and functional benefits of the garage outweighed any detriments, a point which the board and public had the opportunity to discuss further.

Additionally, a zoning application for a second-story addition on Maplewood Drive brought attention to the constraints of an undersized lot. Despite modifications to the plans to meet zoning requirements, a neighbor’s questioning during the public comments section highlighted discrepancies in the square footage calculations of the existing and proposed floors, casting doubt on the clarity of the project’s scope.

Another neighbor raised concerns about the impact of a proposed single-family residence construction on their privacy and property, particularly with regards to new windows and an extension to the back of the building. The architect and civil engineer addressed these concerns, and the council eventually approved the application with the condition that the habitable floor area not exceed a specified limit.

During the meeting, the council also considered the testimony of a licensed engineer regarding a subdivision and the construction of a new single-family home. The engineer argued that the proposed structure met most of the R3 Zone’s bulk standards, with the notable exception of the habitable floor area ratio. The council discussed making the restoration of the neighbor’s property a condition of approval and, following a positive reception from the public and board members, approved the application.

Lastly, a discussion about a minor subdivision at 44 and North Ashby Avenue touched upon proposed variances related to lot area and building coverage. An engineer and an architect testified about the need for additional land and the layout of the proposed building. The council expressed concerns about the size and floor area ratio of the proposed structure, prompting a debate over potential design modifications. The session ended with plans to revisit a revised proposal in the subsequent meeting.

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.
Alfred M. Anthony
City Council Officials:
Shawn R. Klein, Edward Meinhardt, Michael M. Vieira, Barry R. Lewis, Jr. (Township Manager)

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