In a recent meeting, the Glen Rock Zoning Board found itself in the hot seat as glaring oversights led to zoning violations that have sparked conversations about the board’s oversight process and the need for more stringent measures during planning and construction.
At the heart of the discussion were two major cases that involved serious violations of zoning laws due to alleged misinterpretations or miscalculations in approved plans.
The first case concerned a variance application by CB Lending Services for a property at 57 Brookfield Avenue, which had installed two air conditioning units believed not to require a variance but later identified as needing one. The board granted the variance on the condition of increased screening around the units.
The second, more complicated case involved a variance request for a house at 110 Lowell Road. The house, occupied since 2020, was discovered to have a height of 34.3 feet, exceeding the permissible 32 feet, and a front yard setback of 49.1 feet, short of the required 50 feet. These discrepancies were revealed when the homeowners applied for a Certificate of Occupancy.
According to an unnamed attorney representing the homeowners, the initial architect’s calculations were off. The representative suggested that the variance was due to a misunderstanding of how to measure the building’s height in relation to the property’s grade. He maintained that the house was in keeping with the neighborhood and that the hardship was due to the peculiar topography and the existing condition of the property.
The board members and public attendees voiced concerns over these violations and questioned the oversight process that allowed them to occur. One board member was quoted as asking, “How did it get to that and it shows on the plans it’s supposed to be 30 feet high setbacks that it wasn’t met? What happened?”
The issue’s complexities were further revealed during discussions over the responsibility of the homeowners, the potential precedents set by granting variances, and the need to review the existing building process. Some board members acknowledged the homeowner’s responsibility, stating, “Ultimately, you were the one way the property, you are responsible.” However, a local resident defended the homeowners, saying, “It seems like it’s a mistake of the architect… I don’t think we should punish the owners because there is no way for them to know what the height is they build according to the plan.”
These cases underscore the need for more diligence during the construction and approval process. One member urged for diligence and greater detail during the process to prevent future issues, saying, “I think our process on these things really should be reviewed… we just have to be more diligent and maybe we have to be more detail during the process…”
In another segment of the meeting, the board granted a variance for a house in the local neighborhood, stating that any significant alterations to the house would extinguish the height variance.
Lastly, the board considered a request for a second air conditioning unit at 84 Berkeley Place. The board unanimously approved the request, with the condition that the greenery serving as a visual buffer for the AC unit be maintained.