In August of this year, the Municipal Land Use Board (MLUB) approved an application to repave an existing driveway at a residential property on Faitoute Avenue.
Since May, Jose and Jessica Ortega had been back and forth four times to see Mrs. Lynn Vinegra, the Borough’s Zoning Officer, to provide documentation to try and prevent what ended being a three-month wait and an almost $500 expense to go before the Board.
The 10-minute application hearing was due, according to Victor Vinegra who is husband to the Zoning Officer as well as the President of Harbor Consultants – the Board’s Planner, to a technicality.
“We wanted to touch it up. We’re on a main street and we wanted it to look presentable both for our home purposes and for the town ,” said Mrs. Ortega during the hearing, “We were denied originally although we did present numerous documents to the zoning official, she declined us again and again and again so that’s why we’re here.”
“I can go briefly into it. It’s a technicality [is] really what it is,” stated Mr. Vinegra when MLUB President Loren Harms asked for clarification as to the reason for the hearing, “They want to re-surface their driveway . . . but the rear part of the driveway is stone which is considered permeable. They want to top the stone with asphalt and technically, that’s additional impervious area. The zoning officer does not have the authority to circumvent the ordinance to permit more than 50% coverage of impervious coverage so the zoning officer and my office both realized that that area is pre-disturbed. The driveway is asphalt about to the midpoint of the house and then from midpoint to the garage it’s broken stone but broken stone over years kind of acts almost as 100% impervious but technically, it’s a technicality, it’s not pervious and they want to resurface that.”
Mr. Vinegra additionally said, “It’s something normally we would like to sign off on but technically the zoning officer does not have the authority to circumvent the ordinance so what the zoning officer instructed them to does to make out an application to the board to finish off the driveway. It’s a shame that we have to do it that way but it’s state law.”
MLUB member Al Nitsche asked Mr. Vinegra as to the reason for not allowing 100% impervious paving in the municipality, bringing out that water that seeps into the ground through pervious material goes into the aquifer and becomes drinking water while water that runs off into the sewer drain does not get used as drinking water. Additionally, it was stated that pervious – or hard top coverage – may impact neighboring properties by having water flood areas of those properties.
Without any further questions, the Board voted and approved the application with a 5-1 vote. Mr. Nitsche being the only ‘no’ vote due to his longstanding position of minimizing pervious paving unless it is an absolute necessity.
After the meeting, although Mr. and Mrs. Ortega wished they did not have to pay over $125 to mail 35 letters to surrounding properties and an additional $300 to have the Board review the application, the couple were glad the application was finally approved so they could make improvements to their property.
The application was formally approved and memorialized during the MLUB meeting in September.