Planning Board Minutes 9-24-09 Print E-mail


7:00 PM Start

195 Changebridge Road, Montville Municipal Building


No New Business Conducted Past l0: 00PM

Mr. Maggio - present                 Mr. Karkowsky  - present

Mr. Sandham - present              Ms. Nielson - present                           

Mr. Lipari - present                   Mr. Lewis - present

Mr. Hines - absent                   Mr. Canning - present

Mr. Visco - present                    Mr. Speciale (alt#1) - present

                                            Mr. Tobias (alt#2) - present








Chairman recognized various representatives from reporting committees within community:

Alex Kachmar, EDC                   John Misiewicz, Open Space

Greg Milazzo, EDC                    Jim Marinello, Chairman of Board of Adjustment

Ron Cain, EDC                           Tom Mazzaccaro, Director of Public Works/Water & Sewer

Michael Karlan, Chairman of Design Review Committee

Michele Caron, Chair of Environmental Commission

Hugh Merritt, Member of Environmental Commission

Highlands – Update by Jos. Burgis, Planner

Mr. Burgis indicated we are now faced with evaluating whether Montville should opt in or opt out of the Highlands.  Reviewing the many procedures developed in preparing the 7 different modules under Plan Conformance grant, it is thru this process that we were supposed to be able to make a decision as to whether or not the municipality should opt in or not.  What has been learned is that these modules do nothing to help in this decision making.

There have been four reports with over 400 pages of required documentation, which is a tremendous amount of work and was supposed to be goal oriented in reaching a conclusion.  The process as designed doesn’t allow you to conclude.  What has been done, though, is the development of a matrix that would reflect the overall concerns of whether to opt in or opt out.  This is just released and revisions are still being made to this matrix.  This is a ‘draft’ and for discussion and won’t be final until accepted with all comments and questions addressed.  The matrix was distributed to the members.  Mr. Burgis noted that for each category, he has provided a checklist on a question at the end for the board member to answer:  opt in/opt out. 

The matrix was tested on the subcommittee, and is refined enough to ask that the Planning Board members read it, fill it out and return their marked up copy to the Board, and these comments will aid the board on making their recommendation on opting in or out.  The subcommittee will review all comments and develop the final draft. 

The matrix is broken up into six categories of concern:  general broad issues, with specific issues relating to affordable housing, municipal housing programs, impacts, transfer of development rights.  All of these categories were focused on, and each of them had environmental and procedural questions connected.  By narrowing the scope of review for decision making, this will help address issues that were raised in the Highland’s process. 

Mr. Burgis reviewed each of the categories, and asked board members to mark it up and bring it back to the Planning Board secretary. 

Because it is preliminary, it is just a draft, he would like that there aren’t multiple copies distributed until the issues are defined with all input and information listed.

Mr. Burgis noted that prior to Dec. 8th of this year, Mayor & Council has to make decision.  With Housing plan we have until June 2010 to prepare housing plan whether we opt in or not, this is the new deadline.

The entity that makes final determination on Highlands is the Governing Body.  Planning Board makes the recommendation but Governing Body makes final decision.

Jim Sandham:  we heard that this document is confidential, and once introduced at a public meeting, it can be released, correct?  Mr. Carroll:  agreed.

Review of Matrix:

Identified General Issues 1-6 on draft matrix, explaining some of the issues for the Planning Board members to which Mr. Tobias thought there should be some practical examples.  Mr. Burgis elaborated.

Affordable Housing Obligation – mentioned extension of Housing Element to June.  Mr. Burgis elaborated on growth share obligation.  He noted we have sufficient credits to meet reduced numbers of highlands.  Numbers aren’t finalized to a specific degree, would have any where from 51 – 82 units if we opt out.

As to opting in, they did resurrect something similar to RCA’s noting a township could take 50% of your housing obligation previously and sell off.  This was found to be the one part of COAH that worked well.  Mr. Burgis continued discussions on this item. 

Jim Sandham:  what we would be over if we opted in, and we have more credits, can these credits go to a receiving municipality?  Because we get credits for existing affordable housing, not sure there is any great benefit.  Mr. Lewis:  asked for confirmation that since these are built units, we really couldn’t just take monies for these surplus units, they have to be built? 

Mr. Burgis indicated that some townships have a lot of surplus, and their inquiry to COAH was basically that:  why can’t we sell off some of our excess credit for other township’s need it.  These are excess credits, and if not, no one is getting credits for these.

Municipal Build Out analysis:  noted members received a large document in Module 2 which identified building out analysis, and you have a limited number of residential units able to be developed, with only a modest amount of non residential development under Highlands.  Under Morris County Planning Board, who performed their own analysis should we choose not to opt in, their numbers are higher than what it would be if we opt in, especially for the non residential. What is the value of lost revenue or gained revenue? We should look for examples as to opting in based on these parameters noted Mr. Tobias.

Impacts on Planning Programs

The initial report dated May 09 identifies the need for a number of additional reports which will need to be adopted if we opt in: i.e., an NRI, prepare an updated Master Plan addressing updated Goals and Objectives, which coincidentally we are preparing anyway, irrespective of Highlands.

Plan Elements

You are required to adopt Land Use, Housing, Conservation, and Utility Plan, provide a revised Circulation Plan and an Open Space, and Facilities plan, Economic, HPRC and Development Transfer plan would be optional.  Incorporated into these documents would be forestry issues, green forest, critical habitat, lake management and stormwater management, and all of these would need to be incorporated into plan elements noted.

To implement these Master Plan ordinances, you would need to update ordinances recognizing Master Plan is broad policy and ordinances would implement.

If you don’t opt in, all you would have to do a master plan report every six years and there are five specific questions to address as this type of re-examination, which we just finished within the past year.  Bottom line recommendation was of this report was that we do the new master plan which we are doing at same time with Highland’s review.  You need Housing Element and Land Use Element, and these two things are needed for a development.

Regulatory Reports discussed:  discussed individual ordinances that would need to be developed.  Required under Plan conformance, and none obligated if you do not opt in.

As to opt in under Regulatory process, under this process, it requires another level of review, and the application must be reviewed by the Highlands, where now you have local review and will lose some of the local reviews.

Deb Nielson:  if township opts in, use applications and major applications would go to Highlands at Zoning Board level but not at the Planning Board level.  Our ordinance and design standards would have to match up to highland’s standards and we would not have variance approval for granting a deviation from our ordinance standards.  Highlands can overrule your planning board.

Michael Carroll, Esq.  It is similar to that of the RSIS waiver?  Mr. Omland:  reading of the highland’s that from the beginning if townships opt in, they must embrace their rules and we have no authority to deviate from these standards.  If you grant an approval exceeding standards and township can over rule this, it can be remanded back.  Preservation area and planning area discussed.  In the preservation area, you have to follow Highlands, only speaking to Planning areas in our community.  You can exceed the Highland’s standards.  Michael Carroll:  when the state passes on this rule, when does a township have a right under general statute to act?   Mr. Omland discussed wetland rules and flood hazards rules indicting there are times we can act.  Answer is not clear, believes you can, but not clear. 

Final section:  regulations are straightforward on transfer program.  Optional program and says it cannot be forced or obligated to a program.  Look at Highlands regulations and look at these for your town, and if you choose not to opt in, you don’t lose control of your review process.  This is a critical issue, and you can achieve a lot of what the Highlands’ achieve without having to lose this control through your own ordinances.

Two critical points on ‘not’ opting in:  you don’t gain lower housing need number.  Growth fair number is higher than Highland’s number and second issue is the grant programs which the Highlands offer.  One of the grants available in 2010 would be grant monies to do master plan studies.  If you don’t opt in you wouldn’t have access to those types of funds.

Deb Nielson:  a portion of municipality is in preservation area, and we would have to change or review our ordinances so they are compliant with highland’s provision, so regardless of whether it does opt in or out, are there grant monies to undertake this work?  Asked this question of highland’s but not answered per Mr. Burgis.

If you chose not to opt in at Dec. 8th, can you opt in later?  Mr. Burgis:  You can.  What if you opt in after June 8, 2010 deadline, we would be obligated to show housing plan showing COAH obligations.  COAH hasn’t gotten back to Highlands on this as to if opt in sometimes after June 2010 as to whether or not you can amend our housing plan to amend this Housing Element.  You have to make a formal filing by June 10, 2010 on Housing Element.

Larry Tobias:  how locked in are these housing numbers?  Can they change?

Mr. Burgis:  yes, for a number of reasons.  In some instances, some factors change at Highlands, the number was modified by 8 units with additional information.  More importantly, is the potential for litigation that would alter these numbers.  Fair share housing will challenge their ability to issue their own individual housing numbers for municipality with a great reduction.

Gary Lewis:  December 8th date for decision on opting in/out?  Is this legislation, policy?  Mr. Burgis indicated it is legislated, but there is no penalty.  By not making a decision, you made a decision.  In the matrix, a lot of these build out analysis and restrictions that would be imposed are related to data that is outside of Montville’s control.  Isn’t it true that the usage outside Highlands is resulting in what is a deficiency of the watershed that has no direct connection to Montville?  This is correct indicated Mr. Burgis. 

Mr. Maggio:  on planning program, there is a big difference, but what is difference?  Mr Burgis indicated that not all of the specifics have been prepared and that if you look at the modules of August 26, 2009, not all of the ordinances are available.  A number of these documents are being prepared by the Highlands and we are being asked to make decisions without all of the information presented.

Mr. Omland:  is the question more as to how are our ordinances impacted?  Mr. Omland gave some examples to Board:  look at the build out number due to differences in buffers which are larger.  Water use severely is restricted such that you can’t get a normal build out, and info is mostly geared to infrastructure with environmental regulations that narrow down where you can build.  He discussed vernal pools that has no outlet and is just a depression and has environmental features that will now have a 300’ buffer. This is the type of regulation that is Highland’s which you must embrace, and you cannot grant relief from this.  This is one regulation that impacts what we do which goes to ratable base which is what this town and zoning board wants. 

Mr. Burgis also indicated that although there is a provision that will allow Highlands to address this loss of ratable, it is only for a fixed rate of time and only for a seven year period to address it.  Also right now there are no monies right now for this at Highland’s so at this time ratable would be lost.  This is different than economic difficulties.

Ladis Karkowsky:  with this buffer, and you have a property owner that has to have 300’ buffer under these parameters and you deny this and it goes to court, what happens to the board?  Mr. Omland indicated highlands will give you representation.  These vernal pools are mapped in preservation area.

Gary Lewis:  heard someone from Highlands say that it is ok that they are not going to stop development from growth, and isn’t it true that you can increase in clustering and have denser housing in developed areas no matter whether or not this is best for our community.  The reduction in developable area and increased dimensional provisions severely affects development, and you won’t get same level of development.  Mr. Omland:  yes

Jim Sandham:  if we make no decision, what happens?  Mr. Burgis:  it is as if you decided ‘not to opt in’.  Concerns on time constraints as to the decision making that the Governing Body has to make.   Concerns voiced:  Who has superior authority?  Highland’s or COAH? 

Michael Carroll:  at the end of the day, you buy the rationale part of Mt. laurel, affordable housing is a constitutional obligation, and although court recognized Highlands, there can be an argument made that Montville hasn’t met its local need, even though it has, and it is possible that COAH would determine that.  Mr.  Carroll continued:  he understands that an article in today’s paper indicated that there was a housing study conducted which verifies that COAH vastly overstated housing in state, and if this is true in that township, then all of these numbers are wrong every where else.  Victor Canning:  feels that the intent of congress and what is voiced in legislative laws are based on Supreme Court’s direction so feel it would be Highlands that was supreme.  Legislation was highlands not directed by state’s Supreme Court.  Joe Burgis:  there was an executive order with highland and COAH issued and the Executive order said when it comes to affordable housing, environmental issues trump affordable housing. 

Jim Sandham:  executive orders can be pulled.  Voiced concerns on changes that may be made by court.  If you opt in, can you opt out at later date?  Mr. Carroll:  It is not clear, if you opt in, if you can ever opt out.  Mr. Carroll indicated that based on his understanding Highland’s is much more active, right now COAH is ineffective and their planning processes are widely critiqued.  Highland’s knows their path.

Joe Burgis: acknowledges that after review he acknowledged there will be some modifications to this document, and asked that this document be reviewed, to check off the columns as you see fit and add whatever handwritten notes need to be noted.  There is no private author ship of this document, so comments offered is helpful. 

Board members were asked to get their comments into the Board secretary at least by October 1st so that he can prepare the final matrix for the October 8th meeting of the Board.  A master plan subcommittee was set for October 6th at 8:30AM to review the comments from the Board members. 

Gary Lewis noted that the subcommittee discussed the issue of putting information on the website similar to that of our Master Plan articles, and provide links to the Highlands to that we can get more citizen information and comments into the Planning Board on this subject.

As soon as the final matrix is completed, the matrix will be handed out to other agencies and ask that they all submit their comments a week before the next board meeting in October (Oct. 22nd).  This night the Planning Board will need to finalize their recommendations so that there is adequate time for governing body to discuss and decide.

Larry Tobias:  would like to see more data on lost of ratable, potential improvement restrictions and wondering if someone who developed a property and has a vernal pool, is this something that will make a resident go to the assessor for a tax appeal?  Mr. Burgis will address this.

Mr. Sandham expressed concerns on deadlines especially with looking for outside agency comments.  Mrs. White indicated that she would email the matrix out to all and ask that they fill it out and return it completed to her so we can meet deadlines we are establishing.

Gary Lewis reminded that the deadline we need to be most concerned about is the June 10th

Deadline of housing element, noting that it was said if you don’t do anything, you choose to not opt in. 

Mr. Tobias would like to know what we are losing if we go to Highlands.  Mr. Burgis indicated that the tax assessor can provide an estimate of loss to address the square footage.  This is an estimate of full build out.  He can also look at the past ten years and project forward.  The subcommittee is working with modules and knows the regulations and this matrix will highlight where the significant areas are in black and white.  This subject carried to October 8, 2009 meeting of Planning Board.


Master Plan – Goals & Objectives

Introduction – Chairman Karkowsky

Review Presentation on Goals & Objectives – Joseph Burgis, Planner

Mr. Burgis reviewed the goals and objectives of the master plan and the importance of the Board of Adjustment in their review process.  First part responds to the MLUL as a basis to argue for special reasons for Board to obtain their approval.  The Planning Board will use this for the Planning Board to look at variances.  We want it perfectly clear on an application for proofs.

Second section is more detailed identifying specific issues and some very general in nature.  Goals reviewed.  Mr. Burgis indicated eventually he will carve out uses that compliment each other, and the policy statement below each goal explains the intent of each section.

Second goal talks about land not within Highlands in a sewer service area and how we want to protect government.  Where development will occur and this data will be identified on existing mapping. 

Third goal is environmental goal and intent is to protect those characteristics of township and define importance of those issues.

Fourth goal is open space preservation and why it is important to township and how to achieve it. 

Fifth goal is Housing:  here  it is a  simple goal which is to provide variety of housing types and balanced housing supply and in this policy, we talk about recognizing the need for variety of housing types and housing for income groups.  We already addressed our affordable housing issue and refined some of the zoning for these areas, and this area will be further refined.  It is clear that this township does not want any more multi family developments or townhouse.

Next goal is buffer protection to separate incompatible land uses and identify what a buffer should be to insure what an applicant must submit when they go to a board.

Goal #7 is how we want to encourage new development and redevelopment and character of the township our landscape and areas.

Goal 8 is the development of flag lot development noting this is a problem.  This type of development means one house behind another house.  There are many instances where emergency service vehicles and fire services can’t get a clear view of a house.  This area makes it clear that this is an inappropriate land use characteristic.

Goal 9 is non residential development, and towards this goal, the board looked at the EDC’s vision statement.  These goals are repeated in their vision.  Functional role is to recognize that we have neighborhood, highway corridors and serve different segments of the community.

Also feel there is a need for a sidewalk master plan in selected areas of township.  May not need it everywhere but where developed, some linkage needs to be provided.

Also need to insure the system of streets and safe efficient movement and how local and/or regional network is characteristic.

Another goal speaks to historic community with specific wording to promote that.

Also you have Community facilities, sewer facilities, wellhead, conservation energy, and finally we are obligated how this plan will link into state development and redevelopment plan.  You must identify how this supports state plan.

This is preliminary set of goals.  Following our initial review and working on highlands, it is clear some of those goals we discussed earlier will be put into these goals irrespective of opting in or out of the Highlands. 

Mrs. White reminded that another goal is the requirement of architectural design for facades, signage so that when you travel thru a community, the corridors are designed in such a way to have similar or harmonious types of features.  We will also use photos as part of the master plan to reflect this so it is stronger support at board level during review process.  Mr. Lipari wanted it stressed that there are towns that have a character we want to emulate.  Mr. Burgis acknowledged.

Gary Lewis:  the goals and objectives are currently posted on website, asking that those interested review the home page and articles with a link to goals and objectives with a link to emails to Planning Board.  Each comment will be received and reviewed and looked at.

Deb Nielson:  thought that we should also develop a form that can be used to send into the town by the residents with their comments for those that do not use email/internet.  That way all comments and methods can be used.  Continual informational articles should also be posted on web and in press releases/Montville Messenger.

Jack (indiscernible) resident of Woodmont Road asked if this is the appropriate time for the Board when during sidewalk to indicate curbing and drainage issues.

Truscha Quatrone wanted assurances that there will be no further multi family developments other than the specific areas already developed.  Mr. Burgis concurred.  She also indicated that she hopes that some of the areas and upgrades in Towaco started, and that she was looking forward to seeing the Towaco area developed.

Michele Caron – Chairman Environmental Commission – would like the inclusion of the bike path in town and will have plan pulled out and given to the Planning Board for their review during this Master Plan process. 

Anthony Angeline - Virginia Road – feels we should not opt in especially with new changes, new government, which may result in turning over some of the laws and regulations and to make sure you finalize those details as to what happens if you don’t opt in; you should also investigate the financial aspects as noted previously which is an excellent point, and these factors should be weighted and forecasted. 

Some of these things like sidewalks, what does this mean?  Virginia road has no sidewalks but does sidewalks actually work here.  People may be concerned with sidewalks.  If you are going to adopt that the public will come back for the more detailed question and any info you can provide up front will assist it.  Mr. Burgis indicated that the wording will be specific

The wording will have selected areas and the master plan will specifically identify these areas. 

Bicycle path would be a great thing, and would like to see this also.  He also felt that the streetscape and architectural aspect of master plan is a plus.  Mr. Lipari spoke of areas like Bedminster where there are adopted rules and regulations and we will look at these as prime examples.

Mike Karlan – chair of Design Review

Worked with friendly persuasion with developers, but voiced concerns over lack of review control over the municipal entities and never clear about the law on government buildings as to not having to come before any board.  As a result some things look good, some are pretty bad, some towns have beautiful buildings which doesn’t cost much more.  Is there a way to invite these municipally reviews at land use levels.  Don’t know if the master plan can approach it.  Mr. Burgis:  a courtesy review is the law and not part of a master plan.

Alex Kachmar –EDC – summarized the EDC’s mission statement discussing the need for a good business environment and ways to make this town more attractive, a strong community is fundamental to make it a good town.   The goals of the Mission statement mirror the Master Plan goals and objectives.  The EDC would not want to take on any policies that make it more difficult to allow business to operate but wants to see the town enhanced to attact business to the community.

Gary Lewis:  the third page talks about specifically retail, is this type of retail and is this type of storefront consistent with what we want to portray thru higher architectural design reviews.  Mr. Kachmar acknowledged need for an aesthetic quality of building which we want to retain, but wouldn’t want restrictive regs.

Mr. Lewis noted appreciation as the Planning Board liaison thanking EDC for all their work in this mission statement.  He referenced the article in the Messenger looking at the recent approvals of this Planning Board and the quality developments we are bringing in.  

Mr. Burgis concluded that the Goals and Objectives will be further refined and will continue to be reviewed and updated since we still have quite a bit of work on the Master Plan review process.

Mr. Karkowsky noted his appreciation and that of the Planning Board to all of those volunteers and residents who came to hear these presentations, noting the following hearing will have follow ups on matrix.


Mr. Lewis: an item not on the agenda but a cause of concern when he read it was a statement in newspaper about the board of education building on River Road and his only observation is that it is the right decision and he would be happy to discuss with the writer about that the difference in taking a non performing, vacant building, improve it by a relatively small additional investment of municipal funds and turning it into a performing municipal asset. To invest the difference between what the Board of Ed spent and this small added amount given the long term return on this building as an occupied unit is an investment of a lifetime.

Reports from Board Liaisons (No reports discussed)

Board of Adjustment – Larry Hines 

Board of Health – Lawrence Tobias

Environmental Commission – Vic Canning 

Water & Sewer – Arthur Maggio 

Historic Preservation Commission – John Visco 

DRC – Deb Nielson  

Site Plan/Subdivision Committee – Russ Lipari Chair

Regional Drainage Study Committee – Russ Lipari, Ladis Karkowsky

Traffic & Traffic Subcommittee – Russ Lipari

Economic Development Committee – Gary Lewis, Tony Speciale

Open Space Committee – Ladis Karkowsky, Russ Lipari, Deb Nielson

Master Plan/COAH 3rd Round – Ladis Karkowsky, Russ Lipari, Deborah Nielson, Gary Lewis & John Visco (alt)

Cross Acceptance Committee – Ladis Karkowsky, Russ Lipari  

Highlands Legislation Review Committee – Gary Lewis

Fire Department Districts – Russ Lipari Towaco; Tony Speciale or Pine Brook,   Art Maggio for Montville





PMISC09-28 Suppa’s Restaurant – minor site plan - 16 Rt. 46 W – B: 162, L: 7 – use of existing banquet room for occasional “comedy night” in conjunction with existing restaurant use – no other change in operation – rescheduled to October 8,l, 2009 meeting


Secretary noted the resolution adopted by Township Committee on the properties currently in a PA5, recommending changes go to a PA2.  Mr. Burgis asked if there is anything further that we need to do on this at our level, to advise.


Minutes of 9-10-09 – Ladis Karkowsky, Deb Nielson, Gary Lewis, Victor Canning, Russ Lipari, John Visco, Tony Speciale, Jim Sandham, Larry  Tobias & Larry      Hines

Master Plan Subcommittee Minutes – Ladis Karkowsky, Deb Nielson, Gary Lewis, Russ Lipari & John Visco

Adopted unanimously in a Motion made by:  John Visco, seconded Russ Lipari



Michael Carroll, Esq. – Litigation for: $111.25; Trust for: $202.50, $101.25, $33.75, $33.75

Burgis Assoc. – O/E for:  $187.50; Trust for: $625, $93.75, $31.25, $375, $562.50

Omland Engineering – O/E for: $270; Trust for: $1,147.50 (Pinto), $67.50

Adopted unanimously in a Motion made by:  Russ Lipari, seconded by Tony Speciale











Meeting adjourned unanimously in a Motion made by:  Gary Lewis, seconded by Art Maggio

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. White

With explanation

Last Updated ( Friday, 09 October 2009 )
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