Friends & Neighbors,
Judge Lee Solomon had made his decision in the lawsuit against the Zoning Board (Docket #L-768-13).
The plaintiffs have appealed this decision.
YOUR CONTRIBUTION IS NEEDED NOW
Send your check for any amount ($25, $50, $100 or more) made out to the “Barclay Area Civic Association” to: Phyllis Jones, BACA Treasurer, 1117 York Road, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034, OR TO SEND MONEY THROUGH PAYPAL OR TO USE A CREDIT CARD, HIT (OR CLICK ON) THE YELLOW "DONATE" BUTTON ABOVE.
Per New Jersey law, the use variance approved by the Zoning Board and affirmed by the Cherry Hill Town Council does not satisfy the “special reasons” test required by law. It should not have been granted or affirmed because it VIOLATES THE CHERRY HILL TOWNSHIP MASTER PLAN AND ZONING ORDINANCE. The proposed project would also cause:
-The addition of over 300 cars and 1,000 daily trips to the already traffic-choked Brace Road/Kresson Road intersection. -More kids in the schools and the loss of a property zoned for business that pays more taxes than it costs to service. -152 to 300-plus new residents using the existing water and sewer facilities; upgrading the infrastructure to support this falls back on you in the form of increased property taxes -Spot zoning and Variances compromise the Master Plan -Severe impact upon the Croft Farm and tranquil nature trails which abut the site
TIME IS RUNNING OUT – PROTECT THIS NEIGHBORHOOD AND THE REST OF CHERRY HILL FROM ACTIONS THAT THREATEN THE INTEGRITY OF CHERRY HILL'S MASTER PLAN AND ZONING LAWS.
On January 4, 2013, the Cherry Hill Township Solicitor, Robert N. Wright, Jr., sent a "Notice of Decision" letter to Lynda Yamamoto, the attorney representing the citizens who appealed to Town Council to reverse the decision of the Zoning Board to grant variances to permit the construction of 152 apartments at the Haddonfield Lumber/ ProBuild site near on Brace and Kresson Road. The letter stated that "The 95 day (appeal) period would expire on January 11, 2013," and "Township Council will not be able to conduct a hearing or render a decision within the statutory time."
The Appellants were deeply disappointed that the Town Council scheduled, then postponed, then failed to reschedule the appeal hearing to give them an opportunity to have the Town Council decide this matter without the necessity of the time and expense of submitting the matter to the New Jersey Superior Court for a decision. After the Town Council rendered its "Notice of Decision" to "affirm" the unjustified variances, the only way left to STOP them was to file a complaint in the Superior Court. The Council's failure to provide the hearing they had previously promised to give the Appellants is another sad example of the Township's flawed land use regulation processes regarding how and under what circumstances variances from zoning laws are granted.
The Appellants need your help to stop this project and to reform Cherry Hill's broken and misled Zoning Board. Please contribute whatever you can afford to help raise the funds that will be needed to carry this fight to the courts since the Township has denied the Appellants their rightful hearing. While the Appellants believe they have very good legal grounds to overturn this variance, they need to raise additional funds to insure excellent legal preparation and representation now before the NJ Appellate Division with oral argument now scheduled for March 24, 2015.
To help with the costs of the Appeal please join your friends and neighbors and send your check for any amount ($25, $50, $100 or more) made out to the “Barclay Area Civic Association” to Phyllis Jones, BACA Treasurer, 1117 York Road, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034. Please contact Phyllis at 856-428-7575856-428-7575 or by E-Mail: email@example.com if you have any questions about BACA membership or dues.
Appeal of Haddonfield Lumber/ ProBuild Zoning Variance Permitting 152 Apartments
Zoning Board Resolution, Buckingham Partners, LLC, POA #12-Z-25, September 6, 2012
The points below summarize the original Appeal to the Township Council of the Cherry Hill Zoning Board decision to grant two zoning “variances” that would (1) allow 152 residential rental apartment units on the 9-acre Haddonfield Lumber site that is currently zoned only for business uses; and (2) allow building heights of 40 feet where only 35 feet is permitted. By scheduling, then cancelling, and not rescheduling a hearing on this appeal before the end of the statutory review period, the Township Council "affirmed" (i.e. approved) the zoning variances, forcing the residents to file a Complaint with the Superior Court (Docket # L-768-13) asking the New Jersey Superior Court to declare the variances null and void.
1. The variances circumvent the Township’s R10 zoning law for multi-family dwellings. That law requires a minimum site size of 10 acres and limits the density of apartments to 10 units per acre. The variance allows apartments on a site that is 10% too small (9 vs. 10 acres) and at a density that is 70% higher than the maximum allowed: 16.7 vs. 10 units per acre). The variances usurped the power of the Planning Board by (1) approving a “residential” project under the “B2” business standard despite the availability of the more appropriate R10 standard, and (2) granting a height variance to exceed the 35-foot building height limit of the B2 Zone without any supportable reason or proof that it was needed. The Zoning Board ignored the concerns of the Cherry Hill Historical Commission that the “height of the proposed buildings may adversely impact the experience of the users of the nature trails on the adjacent Croft Farm property to the north and west of the proposed development.”
2. The reasoning for granting the variances was based on flawed data, faulty logic, and unsupported conclusory assertions. It failed to state legally adequate reasons for even considering a variance: i.e., why the “prohibited” proposed land use (residential apartments) is “peculiarly fitted” to the Haddonfield Lumber site. The stated reason for granting the variance, that the apartments would provide “a transition from more intense commercial uses south of the site to the park north of the site,” does not satisfy the “special reasons” test required to grant variances of this type according to New Jersey law. Because any “public welfare benefits” the project would bring are not peculiarly dependent upon the Haddonfield Lumber site location, no “use” variance should have been granted.
3. The variances violate a basic principle of sound planning and zoning. It “balkanizes” and carves up the same business zoning district (NW of the Brace/ Kresson Roads intersection) that the Planning Board and Township Council had previously sought to “harmonize” when they rezoned a portion of the zone from “Limited Office” (O1) to “Highway Business” (B2) in the Master Plan to make it “consistent with the existing land use and the surrounding lots.” Creating conflicting adjacent and intermingled land uses violates the integrity of the commercial zone and will discourage further investment and redevelopment of the commercial properties because of conflicts with the adjacent high-density multi-family uses granted by the variance.
4. The Zoning Board’s conclusion that the variance would have “no substantial detriment to the public good” is based on the faulty logic that nothing about detriments on the site can be “substantial” because it is only 9 of 13,046 acres of Township land and only 9 of 1,007 acres zoned for business. It ignored the fact that when the Master Plan was adopted only two significant parcels of undeveloped land remained that were zoned for business. The Plan stated “once these sites are developed, virtually all future development in the commercial/ office sector will be redevelopment… [and the] Township will need to pursue creative means to encourage redevelopment as a positive step in the continual metamorphosis of the retail/office landscape.” Both those parcels have now been developed. The variance will therefore cause a substantial detriment to the public good and violate two explicit goals of the Master Plan (economic and employment growth) because it will eliminate a large parcel zoned for business that could have provided new employment opportunities and positive tax revenues through redevelopment. The Zoning Board failed to consider the “opportunity cost” of the variance to the Township School District. It accepted the applicant’s claim that only 21 children will be added to the public schools resulting in an annual school budget “surplus” of only $11,924 from the project. A business use redevelopment of comparable value, on the other hand, would generate an additional $639,903 per year or over $12.8 million over 20 years, over half of which would be allocated to the School District. This “opportunity cost” is a substantial public detriment and should have caused the variance to be denied.
5. The variance was granted because the applicant asserted that the apartment complex would generate less traffic than the permitted business uses. The traffic impact analysis was based on an arbitrary choice of hypothetical future permitted uses with relatively high trip generation rates even as it ignored other permitted uses with lower trip generation rates than residential apartments. This analysis should not have been relied upon to make a finding that the proposed use would generate less traffic than the permitted uses and would therefore provide a public welfare benefit.
For an update on the status of the appeal process before a two or three judge panel of the Appellate Division and more information, including articles written about our appeal, and any court hearing date when scheduled, please click on our "STOP Illegal Spot Zoning in Cherry Hill" Facebook Icon above. For a complete copy of the 11 page Appeal to the Cherry Hill Town Council that was never heard please send a request by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Robert Shinn at 856 428 8672856 428 8672.