VILLAGE OF RIDGEWOOD
BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT
December 10, 2019
The regular public meeting of the Zoning Board of Adjustment of the Village of Ridgewood was called to order at 7:40 p.m.
Present: Sergio Alegre, Greg Brown, Gary Negrycz, Diana Ruhl, Jonathan Papietro, Isaac Lebow and Matthew Bandelt. Also present were Bruce Whitaker, Esq., Board Attorney and Jane Wondergem, Board Secretary.
Absent: Daniel Perlman
Minutes: The minutes from November 12, 2019 and November 26, 2019 were adopted.
Resolution memorialization: The following resolutions were memorialized:
- Touloughian, 443 S. Pleasant Avenue
- Zynczenko, 598 Cliff Street
- Katcher, 738 Upper Boulevard
- Fenech, 236 Lakeview Drive
Board member comments: There were no comments at this time.
Members of the public comments: There were no comments at this time.
How to review an application from start to finish – Mr. Negrycz went through the steps he uses when reviewing an application. He explained what he looks for on the application, the survey and the plans. Mr. Whitaker pointed out certain criteria to look for as a matter of completeness on the application and the survey.
The Board asked the secretary to amend the application check list to include digital copies of the plans starting in January 2020.
Recusals: factors to consider – Mr. Whitaker explained that if a Board member participates in a proceeding from which he is later found to be disqualified, the proceeding is void in its entirety. The rules of recusal are that if there is any financial interest the Board member should recuse himself. There are a lot of gray areas, and if there is a doubt always check with the Board attorney.
Refresher on (c) variances: Mr. Whitaker gave an overview on (c) variances, stating that it is a 2-prong test.
C(1) – hardship to comply because of the nature of the property itself.
C(2) – where approval of an application would be advanced by a deviation from the zoning ordinance, and the public benefit substantially outweighs the detriment.
Mr. Whitaker will provide the Board secretary with language to put with the application to assist applicants with understanding the difference between personal hardship, which the Board cannot consider, and property hardship.
Use of pictures and electronic devises during meetings – Mr. Whitaker said that anything that a Board member relies on to make a decision is evidentiary. Any applicant or attorney could ask a Board member to share what they are looking at with everyone. Mr. Whitaker also said that Board members should not email each other about cases, or have separate discussion on the dais during meetings. If there are questions about the application, they should be brought up in the public forum, if there is question about procedure, it can be asked of the Board attorney under attorney/client privilege.
Board members asked about taking pictures on site visits and then referring to them. Mr. Whitaker said that they should not refer to the photos, but ask questions of the applicant during the meeting. Board members asked about having photos of the site being required from the applicant when submitting the application. After discussion, it was decided that this requirement, photos of all sides of the house, will be added to the checklist.
How to perform a site visit – Mr. Whitaker advised the Board members that when you go out to do a site visit, if you speak to the homeowner, explain that you are observing the property but cannot discuss the application. Board members should let the property owners know that they are Board members and are there to observe the property.
Quorums, eligibility and voting, meeting pace – Mr. Whitaker explained that quorum on a seven-member Board is four members. If someone is asking for a use variance, they need five out of seven votes, so they deserve a full Board. Anyone Board member can make a motion and Mr. Whitaker, as the author of the resolution, can clarify what has already been discussed. Mr. Whitaker explained that if a Board member feels strongly that an application should be denied, they can make that motion, they do not have to wait for a motion to approve to not be carried.
Number of opportunities for applicants to present to the Board – Mr. Whitaker said the Board cannot limit the number of times an applicant can come back with revised plans. If an application is denied, the applicant would have to come back with a new application and new plans.
Board members asked if anything could be done before applicants get in front of the Board to help the meeting pace. The Board asked that the letter of denial from the Zoning Officer be included with the application, identifying the variances being requested and assuring that the application was reviewed prior to getting to the Board.
Scheduling and number of applications – When a commercial application is before the Board, or any application that will have a lot of opposition, that application should have a whole meeting. If there is an application that is very minor, or an emergency, it could be put on sooner, otherwise they are put on in the order they are received.
A memo will go to the Zoning Officer explaining the procedural items discussed.
A Procedural Subcommittee was formed including Isaac Lebow, Sergio Alegre and Matthew Bandelt.
Mr. Whitaker will amend the By-Laws as needed.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:17 p.m.
Minutes submitted by: Jane Wondergem, Board Secretary
Date Approved: January 14, 2020
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