Livingston Town Zoning Board Approves Variance Applications Amid Unique Circumstances

The Livingston Town Zoning Board recently convened to consider a series of variance applications, each presenting unique circumstances. The board approved several proposals, including the construction of a new home, a two-story addition, a covered porch, and a single-car garage, despite some exceeding the permitted square footage. The meeting also saw discussions about setback standards, habitable floor area ratios, and proper public notification requirements.

The meeting started with the board clarifying the requirements for granting variances. It was stated that a D or use variance would require an affirmative vote of five members, while other variances would require a majority of four members. The public was informed of their right to appeal if their variance was denied, and the process for filing an appeal was explained.

Despite only having five members present, the board tackled the first application for a two-car garage on East McLennan Avenue. Due to the D variance requirement, the application was adjourned until the next meeting on December 12th, with no additional notices required for the rescheduled meeting.

The second application involved a covered porch on Squire Court that extended 7.96 feet into the rear yard setback, violating the zoning ordinance. Applicant’s representative, Derek Orth, and builder, Sanket Shaw, explained the construction error that led to the violation. Brian Conway, the planner for the applicant, argued that the lot’s unusual shape and location within the R2 Zone District made the variance necessary. He further noted that covered patios were a common residential amenity providing year-round usage and protection from inclement weather.

Another application discussed at the meeting was for a new home, with the applicant arguing that the proposal aligns with the state’s master plan objective of smart growth. The applicant emphasized that the new home would provide adequate light, air, and open space, contributing to a desirable visual environment. The covered patio and an evergreen buffer were seen as additions that enhance outdoor living and maintain visual appeal.

The board also reviewed an application from Waterfall Drive LLC, proposing to construct a new single-family home with a habitable floor area of 4,743 square feet, approximately 1,400 square feet below the permitted ratio. The architect for the proposal assured the board that the proposed floor area, although requiring a variance, would not be out of scale with the neighborhood.

One of the more complex applications came from a witness requesting a variance for a three-car garage and an in-law suite, exceeding the permitted square footage. The witness confirmed that the proposed habitable floor ratio was 18.9% instead of the required 15%, but the proposal was argued to be in line with the size and character of surrounding homes.

There was a moment of confusion during the meeting when an application submitted for an addition, porch, and rear patio was revealed to be for an entirely new house on the property. The board, led by Zoning Board members like Edward Bier and Pearl Hwang, expressed concern about the accuracy of notices and publication requirements, ultimately adjourning the application to the January meeting to ensure proper public notification.

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.

Michael M. Vieira
Zoning Board Officials:
Lauren Tabak Fass, Edward Bier, James Hochberg, Tony Nardone, Pearl Hwang, Jared Resnick, Laurie Kahn, Ketan Bhuptani, Michael Affrunti, Jackie Coombs-Hollis (Land Use Administrator)

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