In a recent meeting of the Waldwick Planning Board, a contested boundary adjustment between two properties, marked by rigorous analysis and debate, became a focal point, reflecting the complexities of local urban planning.
The meeting, held this July, was presided over by the board with discussions centered around an application for a boundary adjustment between two properties on Frederick Street. The proposal has emerged as a controversial topic, inciting substantial debate over the nature and implications of such changes.
“We’re proposing a boundary adjustment between the two lots. There has been a boundary line agreement in place governing the area in question. So effectively, we’re memorializing the existing way that the properties have been used for years,” said a spokesperson for the application.
The issue at hand revolves around two existing lots that, due to an older boundary overlap agreement, have been used in a particular manner for years. The proposed change is a corrective measure, aiming to formalize the current use of the properties.
Despite the clear explanation, the proposal faced opposition and sparked controversy due to its requirement for a variance approval. A variance is an exception that allows a property to violate a zoning ordinance, and this proposal necessitates it due to the new lot sizes and building setbacks that would fall outside the current zoning laws.
The most contentious points of debate were the specifics regarding the setbacks, i.e., the minimum distance a structure can be located from a boundary line. The proposed plan includes several variances that deviate from the required setbacks, with minimum yard sizes and proximity of buildings to the boundary line presenting potential issues.
“Lot three has three variances that we’ve identified and reviewed,” stated the application representative, acknowledging the hurdles that this proposal would need to overcome. However, they argued that the existing conditions, including tree cover providing a natural buffer and plenty of separation between structures, should mitigate any perceived issues.
As for the proposed subdivision, the representative elaborated, “As per the deed, Lot 3 is 11,664 square feet, and the corrected proposed subdivision is 11,418 square feet. Lot 4 is 23,516 square feet, and the corrective subdivision has it at 22,667 square feet.”
Despite the perceived benefits, some board members raised concerns about the impact on the community’s character and zoning. Critics argued that such a move might set a precedent for future zoning exceptions, potentially leading to undesirable development patterns.
The spokesperson, however, countered these concerns, citing the public health and safety benefits and the rectification of the overlap as “furthering the purposes of the municipal law and land use law.” They also reassured the board that there would be “adequate lighting, air, and open space” due to no physical changes being made.
The board’s decision on this boundary adjustment signifies the complex balancing act required in local urban planning, between maintaining the community’s character and the needs of individual property owners. Despite opposition, it’s evident that the board acknowledges the need for flexibility and adaptation in their zoning laws to accommodate the unique scenarios that emerge in a dynamic community.
The meeting ended without a definitive resolution on the issue, signifying that the debate over boundary adjustments and variances in Waldwick is far from over. The board’s future actions on these matters will continue to shape the town’s physical and cultural landscape, underlining the importance of public participation in these local urban planning decisions.