River Edge Land Use Board Approves Variances Amid Flooding Concerns, Debates Coverage Thresholds

The River Edge Land Use Board recently approved two applications seeking variances for patio expansions and construction, despite concerns over potential flooding issues and debates on coverage thresholds. The approval of these variances sparked a discussion among board members about increasing the coverage threshold from 35% to 40% to avoid repetitive debates and ensure consistency in granting variances.

The two applications, one for a property on Valley Road and the other for a property on Vanon Drive, were presented during a remote meeting via Zoom. The first application, presented by Dale Taly for a property on Valley Road, sought variances for a new patio and increased lot coverage. The second application, from Mesh Patel for a property on Vanon Drive, requested variances for a new raised patio and a front Portico. The board approved both applications unanimously after reviewing the proposed plans and discussing potential implications.

Board chairman, Thomas Papaleo, and councilman Colin Busteed were among the members who expressed concerns about the flooding issues in the area due to the proposed increase in lot coverage. Papaleo clarified that the initial request for the Valley Road property had been for 42% coverage, but it had been scaled back to 40%. Busteed raised the question of whether the board should consider increasing the threshold to 40% to avoid repetitive debates on the issue.

The board also engaged in a broader discussion about the impact of new constructions and renovations in the neighborhood, with some members voicing concerns about houses being built to the maximum allowable size, leading to frequent requests for variances. The discussion highlighted the need for a comprehensive solution to manage water runoff from individual properties and address the existing infrastructure’s limitations in handling increased storm severity and flooding.

During the public comment period, residents echoed the board’s concerns about flooding, emphasizing the low-lying nature of the area and the non-absorbent nature of the soil. They urged the board to maintain limits on coverage and avoid granting variances that could exacerbate the flooding issue.

In a separate discussion, the board members addressed a local ordinance related to lead paint inspections. Some members expressed concern about the proposed fee of $500 for inspections, suggesting it seemed high compared to other towns charging between $200 and $250. The board agreed to further discuss the ordinance at the next meeting and consider revisiting the fee.

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