One House Can’t Become Two, Says Planning Board

February 9, 2017
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The Unified Planning Board denied an application to tear down this Super Storm Sandy-damaged home and replace it with two new houses on the same lot. Photo by Nikole J. Ghirardi

By Liz Sheehan|

SEA BRIGHT – Neighbors, some accompanied by their attorneys, came to the Jan. 24 meeting of the Unified Planning Board to object to the proposal to build two houses at 408 Ocean Ave., in the North Beach section of the town, where one has stood since 1912.

After nearly four hours of hearing from attorneys, planners, an architect and residents, the board unanimously turned down the applicant’s request, determining it would detract from the character of the neighborhood, an R-1, single family residential zone.

Super Storm Sandy damaged the home, which is on a flag, or L-shaped lot, with one section stretching from the Shrewsbury River to Ocean Avenue, and has extra parking on the ocean side of the road.

Joseph Martucci, Hackensack, who bought the property after Sandy, said he wanted to build two houses on the property, which is two tax lots, one for himself and another for family or other use. He said the house he would use would be 5,000 square feet and the second 3,800 square feet.

One lot, with the larger house, would extend from Ocean Avenue to the river while the other would front on Ocean Avenue and end at a neighboring property which is on the river.

Martin McGann, the attorney for Martucci, said the proposal for the two houses on the property, which was 26,700 square feet, met and exceeded the zoning requirements for the size of a lot in the R-1 zone. The zoning requires 7,500 feet for a lot, he said, while one of the lots would be 16,915 square feet and the other 9,784 square feet.

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The zoning requires a width of 75 feet and the lots would each be 68 feet wide, McGann said, so a variance would be needed.

He also said that there was an existing driveway with two cuts on Ocean Avenue which could be used for both houses, eliminating the need for another cut in the road.

Andrew Janiw, a planner and an expert witness for the applicant, said although the zone was designated as R-1 residential, there were many other uses in it, including a motel and multifamily buildings, which he identified by the number of gas meters on the outside of the buildings.

The property had previously been in an R-2 zone, with different zoning standards, but the zone was changed to R-1 several years ago.

Andrew Thomas, a planner who testified for Guy Farrington, who lives in the property on the Shrewsbury River behind one section of Martucci’s lot, said the houses on Ocean Avenue, to the north and south of 408 Ocean Ave., had lot widths that complied with the zoning requirements, with the majority having greater widths.

Farrington said he had grown up in the neighborhood and “had grown up riding his bicycle,” in the streets there.

He said increasing the property density with an additional house would have an impact on “the character, nature and essence of this part of town.”

“I think one house is a lot better that two,” Farrington said.

Janice DeMarco, 406 Ocean Ave., said “I would like just one house.”

The neighbors’ concerns echoed those heard from other residents in Sandy-damaged communities where lots that formerly had one house were now having either two houses placed on them or much larger mansions replacing older homes.

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This article was first published in the Feb. 2-9, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times. 

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