Secaucus plans to streamline zoning code for ‘pre-existing conditions’

The change would prevent homeowners from needing to go before the Zoning Board

Secaucus is planning to update various previsions of its zoning code regarding things like pre-existing conditions and driveways.

Mayor Michael Gonnelli and the Town Council voted to introduce an ordinance that would do so at its March 8 meeting. Town Administrator Gary Jeffas explained the changes at the request of Gonnelli. The ordinance is intended to prevent unnecessary things from coming before the Zoning Board.

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“A lot of time before the Zoning Board, a lot of recurring structures would come for no reason,” Jeffas said. “The reason we say no reason is because they’ll be coming because they have a pre-existing condition that is an exception to the zoning ordinances.”

Most of the pre-existing conditions did not need to be rectified by the Zoning Board, Jeffas explained. The new ordinance seeks to clarify that for homeowners or those performing property renovations.

“So what this is doing is, the Zoning Officer looked at it, cleaning some of that up,” Jeffas said. “For example, if you’re going to put a dormer on your house and not increase the space, you don’t have to go before the Zoning Board because you’re not increasing the square footage of the flooring… If you have a deck and your going to replace it, you don’t have to go before the Zoning Board. Sometimes steps, the front stairs, exceed the setback but they are pre-existing.”

“So we’re eliminating conditions were people often wind up before the Zoning Board where pre-existing conditions force them to do so,” Jeffas said. “So it’s just making it streamlined, so they don’t have to appear before the board for minor changes to its property.”

Provisions for driveways

Gonnelli asked if this ordinance included new means for filling in driveways, to which Jeffas explained there is a new provision regarding that to help prevent flooding.

“Also in this ordinance is, if you have a sloped driveway, that often causes flooding, which we’ve had many times on heavy rains,” Jeffas said. “You can come before the construction department so you can fill them in so they’re level to reduce flooding. And you don’t have to go before the Zoning Board for a request for that because it’s alleviating a flooding condition, making it easier for the homeowners to handle that.”

The council also introduced an ordinance that would amend the section on “Streets and Roadways” in the zoning code to updating replacement materials for sidewalks, driveway openings, curbing, and curb cuts. The idea is to require concrete after the driveway meets the sidewalk and continues until it meets the street to make road maintenance easier.

“If anybody is doing work on their home between the street and the start of their driveway, so the sidewalk and the driveway, that would have to be replaced with concrete. So if people are doing pavers, they don’t do it up to edge of the driveway, because often times that becomes problematic when we’re doing road work and road projects. It’s harder on maintenance.”

The ordinances will be up for a public hearing at the next meeting of the Secaucus Town Council. That meeting will be on March 22 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers on the first floor of Town Hall at 1207 Paterson Plank Road. For more information, go to secaucusnj.gov.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com. 

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