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Howell zoning board decides to hear asphalt application

HOWELL – Members of the Howell Zoning Board of Adjustment have decided they will hear an application that has been filed by L&L Paving, Yellowbrook Road.

The board members reached a decision on Dec. 18 after the issue had been discussed at previous meetings this year.

L&L Paving is proposing to remove an existing concrete manufacturing facility and to develop a bituminous (asphalt) concrete manufacturing facility at its property in a Special Economic Development (SED) zone.

The interpretation being sought was whether the manufacturing of concrete in the concrete plant or the manufacturing of asphalt in an asphalt plant was a permitted use. The only permitted use in the zone are “products” that use stone, glass, clay or concrete in the manufacturing of the product.

Attorney Michael Butler, who represents L&L Paving, sought to have his client’s application heard by the Howell Planning Board, which hears applications that conform to municipal ordinances.

At previous meetings, Butler argued that the current application is consistent with applications the Planning Board has approved in the past and was consistent with the zoning when the application was filed.

Attorney Ron Gasiorowski, who represents Stavola Leasing, argued that bituminous concrete manufacturing and/or asphalt is not consistent with the SED zone.

Gasiorowski sought to have the zoning board, which hears applications that propose a non-conforming use and require the granting of a variance, accept jurisdiction of the L&L Paving application.

In the end, board members voted to accept jurisdiction of the application.

Board member Thomas O’Donnell said it was a “very difficult case” that is “split right down the middle.”

O’Donnell commended the argument Butler made to have the case heard by the Planning Board, but in the end, he said, “I believe the jurisdiction is not the Planning Board, it is the zoning board, and that (L&L Paving) should come to the zoning board for a variance because if (they) go to the Planning Board it is a dead end, case closed,” O’Donnell said.

The board’s vice chairman, Michael Sanclimenti, said, “When you look at concrete product, from the testimony of the expert and in my opinion, (asphalt) is a product, but I also have to consider the history of the township with the ordinance.”

Board member Ian Bloom said he went back and forth “at least 30 times” in his head regarding the position he would take. When a motion was eventually voted on to have L&L Paving present the case to the zoning board, Bloom voted no on that motion.

The board’s chairman, Wendell Nanson, said the proposal to convert the existing concrete plant to an asphalt plant needs to come before the zoning board.

“There is an existing concrete plant on premises, that is a given. Converting it to an asphalt plant (is) possible, but that needs to come back to the zoning board and have the proofs put on the record. Is asphalt concrete? Are they one in the same? I think case law has stated they are; that is where testimony put on the record … is very important in the interpretation,” Nanson said.

At the end of the discussion, Sanclimenti made a motion to have the L&L Paving application come before the zoning board to be considered for a use variance.

“Once and for all, we can clearly get the definition of a concrete product from the experts on both sides and we should then analyze and consider the concrete product,” he said.

Board members Richard Mertens, Thomas Posch, O’Donnell, Sanclimenti and Nanson voted yes on the motion to have L&L Paving come before the zoning board. Bloom voted no on the motion, which carried 5-1.

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