Millburn Zoning Board Approves Several Property Renovations Amid Variances and Community Concerns

In a recent meeting, the Millburn Town Zoning Board approved multiple property applications that sought variances for expansions and additions tailored to accommodate growing family needs and modernize residential spaces. These approvals came despite debates over construction impacts on neighborhood aesthetics and character. The board also discussed a proposal requiring several variances for a major renovation, which was met with concerns about its size and potential impact on the neighborhood, leading to a decision to carry the application to a later date.

The meeting began with the approval of several zoning calendar items, focusing on applications for property expansions and additions. Each application was reviewed, with the board addressing variances and setbacks before moving on to the next agenda item. Among the applications, the property on Sagamore, represented by attorney Richard Scholnick on behalf of homeowners Laura Yuber and Jose Mario Valdez, stood out. The property sought variances for a retaining wall height, front yard setback, and side yard setback. The architect, Haik Xen, and civil engineer, Catherine Muller, provided detailed presentations, emphasizing the need for additional space due to a growing family and the unique conditions of the steep slope and neighboring structures.

During the hearing for 53 Sagamore. The architect explained the challenge posed by the space needed and the existing layout, leading to further deliberation by the board on the proposal’s impact.

Another application was presented for a property with a pre-existing narrower lot at 85.2 feet where 100 feet is required. The homeowners proposed a second-floor addition, which would require variances for lot width and front yard setback. The addition aimed to maintain spacing between properties and widen the driveway while preserving existing structures and vegetation. Board members expressed support for the application, considering it a modest and reasonable request, and approved it after closing the public portion.

For a property on Elmwood, homeowners P and T Sukthankar sought approval for an addition to accommodate their aging parents and create additional workspace. Architect Timothy Klesse detailed the modest expansion, which would not increase building or lot coverage but would impact the side setback due to the property’s existing narrow lot width. The board unanimously approved the application after a presentation that included visual aids and diagrams.

The board then discussed a property renovation on Mount Ararat Road. Board member Chandru Harjani presented a analysis, noting the building’s proximity to the property line and the addition of a dormer. The addition aimed to continue the existing setback, with a moderate floor area increase. Jessica Glatt commented on the modesty of the proposal before it was unanimously approved.

Another Mount Ararat Road property, represented by Lucky Express USA LLC, required variance relief for FAR and four C variances. Attorney Anthony Sorillo and witness Paul P.W. presented revised plans with color-coded site diagrams to illustrate the proposed building coverage. The board debated the eligibility of members to participate due to previous absences, ultimately deciding to treat the application as new, disregarding prior testimony.

The meeting also featured a renovation proposal that included converting a basement into an entertainment space and transforming a garage into a suite. The architect presented elevation plans with modern touches, sparking board inquiry into the design’s architectural creativity and visual appeal. A professional planner testified regarding zoning compliance, with the board seeking clarification on the property’s location within the zoning map.

A pressing topic involved a resident named Carl, who voiced concerns about the impact of a new house on his home’s resale value and neighborhood aesthetics. The board did not consider his statements about the current use of the property, as it was an enforcement issue. Members expressed major concerns about the size of the house and the floor area ratio, ultimately deciding to carry the application to a later date to address these issues.

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.

Annette Romano
Zoning Board Officials:
Craig Ploetner, Jessica Glatt, Joe Caulfield, Chandru Harjani, Amy Lawrence, Gary Rosen, Regina Truitt, Pricilla Saraf, Xiaoxuan (Derek) Peng, Robert Simon (Board Attorney), Eileen Davitt (Zoning Officer/Board Secretary)

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