Howell zoners permit church to create two residential lots

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HOWELL – Members of the Howell Zoning Board of Adjustment have voted to permit the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church to subdivide its property and to create two residential building lots.

A public hearing on the church’s application that began on March 11 resumed on April 22.

Initially, representatives of the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Aldrich Road, Howell, sought approval from the zoning board for a minor subdivision that would have permitted the creation of two 15,000-square-foot residential building lots on the church’s property.

Representatives of the church were also seeking a use variance from the board in regard to a deviation from conditional use standards and the expansion of an existing nonconforming use (the Havenwood Montessori School) in a one-story education building on the church’s property.

During the March 11 meeting, engineer Michael Geller, who testified on behalf of the applicant, said the proposed subdivision of the church’s property was being driven by a need for economic vitality for the church.

Testimony indicated the two residential lots would not be developed by the church, but would be developed by whomever purchased them.

At that time, board members said they would like to see the proposed residential lots conform to the standards of Howell’s R-2 residential zone.

When he resumed his testimony on April 22, Geller said his client took the comments the board members made into consideration and revised the plan. He said the two proposed residential lots were increased from 15,000 to 20,000 square feet (half-acre lots) and would comply with the standards in the R-2 residential zone.

During the March 11 meeting, the issue of wetlands on the church’s property was raised and discussed by the applicant’s representatives and the board members, but the matter was not immediately resolved.

On April 22, Geller testified that the property had been reviewed to make certain no wetlands are present.

“We had an environmental consultant (issue a report). The professional wetlands investigation reviewed the area of the proposed lots and the rest of the property and found there are no wetlands present, and no wetlands buffer present on the property,” Geller testified.

Geller said the changes to the plan resulted in the lot where the church is located being reduced from 4.9 acres to 4.67 acres where 5 acres is required, and he requested a variance for that lot size.

With no additional testimony from the applicant, a motion was made to approve the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church application with the changes that were offered by the applicant and the variances that were requested.

Wendell Nanson, the board’s chairman, Michael Sanclimenti, the board’s vice chairman, and board members Matthew Hughes III, Thomas O’Donnell, Herbert Massa, Richard Mertens and Jose Orozco voted “yes” on the motion to approve the application.