The following minutes are a summary of the Planning Board meeting of October 21, 2014. Interested parties may request the preparation of a transcript or an audio cassette recording of the meeting from the Board Secretary for a fee.
Call to Order & Statement of Compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act: Chairman Nalbantian called the meeting to order at 7:36 p.m. The following members were present: Mayor Aronsohn, Ms. Bigos, Ms. Knudsen, Mr. Nalbantian, Mr. Joel, Ms. Dockray, Ms. Peters, Mr. Thurston, and Mr. Abdalla. Also present were: Gail Price, Esq., Board Attorney; Blais Brancheau, Village Planner; Chris Rutishauser, Village Engineer and Michael Cafarelli, Board Secretary. Mr. Reilly and Ms. Altano were absent at this time.
Public Comments on Topics not Pending Before the Board – No one came forward at this time.
Correspondence received by the Board – There was none.
Public hearing Land Use Plan Element of the Master Plan AH-2, B-3-R, C-R and C Zone Districts.
Ms. Razin announced the next meeting will be on Monday, November 3 at Ridgewood High School, the Board will continue the public hearing on CBD Multi-Family Housing, and Mr. Brancheau will present his professional report with public questions to follow.
Legal overview regarding Open Public Meetings Act requirements and Board obligations as per the Municipal Land Use Law
Ms. Razin went through the Open Public Meetings Act Requirements and Board Obligations pursuant to the Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL). Ms. Razin described the types of ‘c’ variances, discussing the difference between a c (1) and c (2) variance, and the criteria for each.
Ms. Razin moved on to describe the Residential Site Improvement Standards (RSIS) and their application.
Mr. Brancheau asked Ms. Razin to explain the difference between a variance and an exception. Ms. Razin defined an exception as relief from a design standard, whereas a variance is relief from a zoning ordinance/requirement. Mr. Brancheau then explained the intended meaning of MLUL, that when it was written the writers envisioned separate ordinances regulating zoning, site plans, and subdivisions. However, many municipalities such as Ridgewood have combined the three into one land use ordinance.
Ms. Razin described County review jurisdiction and said that the Board and or applicant should consider if the site in question is located near or on a County road or if the development could impact drainage on the county road. If so, the applicant would have to submit a separate application to the County Planning Board for approval. The Planning Board can condition any approval it makes upon the applicant receiving County approval.
Ms. Razin noted that other governmental authorities besides the County may also be involved in development review, and that there may be issues of preemption, where the other governmental authority has sole jurisdiction over a specific aspect of a development application.
At 8:05 P.M. the fire alarm went off and everyone present went outside for approximately ten minutes.
After the Board returned to the meeting, developer’s agreements were described, along with off-tract improvements and performance guarantees.
Ms. Razin then described the Master Plan and stated it is the sole responsibility of the Planning Board to vote, approve and amend the plan. The governing body does not prepare, adopt or amend the plan. The plan contains various elements. The master plan hearing process was described.
The statutory requirement for the Planning Board to reexamine the master plan and development regulations was described. Reexamination is required at least every ten years – formerly it was every six years.
Ms. Razin described the requirement for consistency between the Master Plan and zoning ordinance, and how the Council can adopt inconsistent ordinances if proper reasons are stated, and the requirement for the Council to refer ordinances to the Planning Board for consistency review.
Ms. Razin continued her overview of the Master Plan and described the amendment process. She said that any party could ask for a Master Plan amendment; however, all amendments must go through a public hearing, involving notice and the opportunity for interested parties to make comments. The Master Plan is a policy document not an ordinance.
Ms. Peters and Ms. Dockray asked questions about the amendment and reexamination process. Mr. Brancheau responded and stated the reexamination is not part of the Master Plan and it does not affect the master Plan.
Ms. Peters asked questions about public questions and how other municipalities operate.
Ms. Dockray asked if lawsuits brought against the Planning Board for Master Plan adoption are common.
Ms. Peters asked about the reexamination process, and permitted uses in a particular zone.
Ms. Razin described courtesy reviews involving capital projects of the Board of Education and other governmental entities, and stated that the Planning Board does not take formal action on such projects.
Ms. Razin defined the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), commonly known as the "Sunshine Law". Under OPMA local government meetings must be conducted in public, the public has the right to be present at all meetings of public bodies, that adequate notice of meetings must be provided to the public, and that meeting agendas must be made available at least forty-eight hours prior to any public meeting.
Ms. Razin then described the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), governing the right for the public to have access to public records. She stated that the Village Clerk is the gatekeeper for such requests of public documents and has seven days to respond to OPRA requests. Ms. Razin stated there are exceptions, but Board members’ emails can be required to be made available to the public.
Ms. Razin described conflicts of interest and the Local Government Ethics Law. She discussed reasons and basis for conflicts can be financial, family, and personal. Mr. Nalbantian stated that if questions arise they should be directed to him or Ms. Price.
Ms. Peters and Ms. Dockray had questions about the definition of conflict of interest and Ms. Razin clarified the law.
Ms. Razin then described the process of appeals from the Board’s decisions. Interested parties may appeal. The appeals must normally be filed within 45 days of the publication of the Board’s decision. Most appeals are based upon the record before the Board and the decision as reflected in the Board’s resolution memorializing its decision.
Institutional Use Regulations
Mr. Brancheau provided the Board with the background to the Board’s review of institutional use regulations and presented his recommendations for future action. Mr. Brancheau provided the Board with a copy of the ordinance that was previously prepared. Subsequently, Mr. Brancheau considered the need for additional revisions to the ordinance, and requested that the Board authorize him to prepare a revised ordinance for its consideration, which if approved would be forwarded to the Village Council for possible introduction.
Mr. Nalbantian stated it would be helpful to see Mr. Brancheau's recommendations and made a motion for Mr. Brancheau to draft the recommendations he discussed. All approved.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:15 P.M.
Date approved: December 16, 2014
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