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Board’s engineer concerned with storm water management aspects of plan

HOWELL – Storm water management issues on a commercial property were the focus of discussion during a recent meeting of the Howell Zoning Board of Adjustment when representatives of Sakoutis Realty appeared before the board.

The most recent meeting regarding the firm’s application took place on March 9. No decision was reached and the application was carried to the board’s meeting on April 27.

Sakoutis Realty is seeking a use variance and preliminary major site plan approval for the proposed expansion of a nonconforming contractor’s storage and refuse yard at Sakoutis Brothers Disposal, 113 Route 34, Howell.

The application has been stalled for more than a year. A municipal zoning violation regarding the Sakoutis property, which also borders Route 33 where that highway intersects with Route 34, was written on July 16, 2018. The zoning violation remains unresolved, according to the board.

Engineer Walter Hopkin and attorney Michael Vitiello represented the applicant at the March 9 meeting.

Charles Cunliffe, the zoning board’s engineer, said he had “significant” storm water management concerns regarding the site plan. He said plans that had been submitted within the last 10 days did not show any storm water management infrastructure along the north portion of the site to address his concerns.

“We had a meeting regarding this application in December, we had a subsequent applicant’s meeting in my office in December where I identified these same issues, and we had another (meeting) in Janaury where I once again brought up these issues. We are now at March 9 and I have not seen anything to address the storm water management,” Cunliffe said.

Hopkin said the issue at hand is the northern portion of the property that has been cleared throughout the years. He said part of the area, about 52,000 square feet, is being restored in accordance with a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) permit.

“The way we approached this was that we over-detained (water) in the area near the detention basin to compensate for the area of run-off in the northern portion of the site. I feel we did address (the situation),” Hopkin said.

Cunliffe said the applicant submitted an application for a waiver to the DEP on Feb. 24. He said the site plan that was submitted does not show any of the proposed storm water management infrastructure or proposed site improvements. He said the application for the waiver is “very nondescript” with the proposed improvements.

“I am a little concerned the DEP is not looking at the same application we are looking at; the same site we are looking at,” Cunliffe said.

Jennifer Beahm, who is the zoning board’s planner, agreed with the concerns Cunliffe expressed.

“You cannot use that area as compensation and not represent it on a plan to the DEP and then turn around and disturb it and say, ‘I am going to get a permit for that.’ That is not how that works.

“I feel like we have plans submitted to us that show ‘X’ and we have plans submitted to the DEP that show ‘Y.’ I do not understand, after all this time, because this application has been pending for quite sometime now, why the plans are not consistent,” Beahm said.

“Let’s be clear, this is a (municipal) code issue. It is not like they are coming here asking for permission. They are asking for forgiveness and yet the things we have repeatedly told them are still not representated on the plans.

“Here we are in March 2020, when the application date is 2018 on a code violation, and the plans are still at this point where we are not even close to where we need them to be. It is frustrating on our end to say the least,” Beahm said.

In response to a question from the board’s chairman, Beahm said the plans need to be fixed.

The Sakoutis application was carried to the board’s April 27 meeting.

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