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Cronin v. Planning Board of the Borough of Spring Lake Heights

April 13, 2009

WILLIAM CRONIN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
PLANNING BOARD OF THE BOROUGH OF SPRING LAKE HEIGHTS, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Docket No. L-4694-07.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted March 9, 2009

Before Judges Carchman and R. B. Coleman.

Following the denial by defendant Planning Board of the Borough of Spring Lake (the Board) of an application for a minor subdivision, plaintiff William Cronin filed an action in lieu of prerogative writs in the Law Division. After trial, Judge Lawson determined that the denial of the application was neither arbitrary nor unreasonable, and he entered judgment for defendant. We affirm.

We briefly set forth the relevant facts. Plaintiff is the owner of property located at 1104 Allaire Road in the Borough of Spring Lake Heights (the Borough). The property is 103 feet wide, 174 feet deep and is rectangular in shape. It consists of 17,987 square feet. The property, located on the north side of Allaire Road, bounded on the north by Robinson Park and on the east by an apartment complex, contains a two-story single-family residence in the front portion of the property and a "garage apartment" in the rear. Access to the apartment is provided by a driveway that is ten feet wide. The single-family dwelling is 30.37 feet from Allaire Road, has a western side yard setback of 12.10 feet, and an eastern side yard setback of 15.42 feet. The apartment pre-dated plaintiff's acquisition of the property, which occurred in 2004.

After purchasing the property, in 2005, plaintiff filed an application with the Borough's Zoning Board of Adjustment, seeking to convert the first floor of the apartment (garage area) to living space, increasing the living space from 500 to 1,000 square feet. The application, which required a use variance approval due to an ordinance barring two residential structures on one lot, was granted on March 25, 2006, because "the multi family use would be consistent with the surrounding properties" and that plaintiff would "suffer an undue hardship" without variance relief.

In August 2006, plaintiff filed an application with the Board to raze the rear structure, and subdivide his property into two lots, Lots 63.01 and 63.02. As proposed, the front lot would be 10,300 square feet, and the rear lot, would be approximately 7,687 square feet in size. The application proposed to widen the existing driveway to a width of fifteen feet, with an easement granted to the rear property for ingress and egress.

The Borough's zoning requirements and their impact on the application are as follows:

Existing Lot

Proposed Lot

Proposed Lot 63.01

Regulation Required

63.02

Lot Area

(in sq. feet)

7,500 17,986.89 10,300 7,686.89

Frontage

75 103 103 0 feet

(in ...


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