The Habitat for Humanity development on Westervelt Place went before the Oradell Zoning Board and after two plus hours of debate significant progress and several issues where raised.
Chief among the issues where the list of variances including a floor area ratio (FAR), density for square footage, front and side yard setbacks and building coverage. Other concerns such as additional traffic were brought up during the hearing that included three testimonies from the Habitat group.
The property for the proposed development, located on two lots on the corner of Westervelt Place and Lake Avenue, calls for four single family homes. The current proposal put forth by Habitat for Humanity will have an attached single family dwelling on each lot. These homes will be sold to first time homeowners through Habitat for Humanity's selection process. These families will not be solely low-income families, but the goal is to have the four units for a mix of low and mid-level income families looking to become homeowners.
The first testimony came from the project architect Ken Schier who testified to floor plans and the properties value as a platinum certified project in addition to answering the variances.
Schier also described the compliancy and the differentiation in the design and building materials. This was important since it was in compliance with the ordinance that buildings are built with different designs. He also answered variance questions including the firewall between the attached single-family unit homes. The fire resistant walls met the minimum requirement, but it was still a concern voiced by the board members.
They also raised issue with the dimensions including the height of both buildings. Schier’s testimony answered many of the questions will there was a plan to bring the lead architect for the meeting to address these issues in greater depth.
The project’s Engineer Planner Bill Hamilton addressed several questions including the decision to build two single family attached units versus building one building with four units in it to maximize the amount of open space while not leaving several variances for the board to consider before approving the project. The idea was to not have the housing development form a wall, but for it to have a similar aesthetic to the rest of the block. Under the current designs and images the current footprint and design was as close as they could come with the limited property size.
The hearing closed with the testimony of Jacey Raimondo, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity for Bergen County. The chief issue brought up during her testimony was the issue of property lines following the development. Once Habitat for Humanity develops these properties and finds owners for each of the units, they will no longer be the overall owner of the lots. This could lead to the division of the two lots into four smaller lots if they were to be sold by the new owner sometime down the road.
Raimondo reassured the board that it’s a highly unlikely situation given that many families are happy to be there and look to raise their family there for years to come.
Oradell gave one of the lots to the organization while they purchased the other with hopes of creating affordable housing. The property grant was a part of Oradell's master plan to provide the required affordable housing units under COAH.
The next meeting is set for May 16th with the vote to happen at that time or during the June Zoning Board meeting.