Residents: Keep Our Neighborhood Small

Group asks for zoning change, to prevent growth

A group of residents of the Van Beuren Road area of Morris Township want their zone upgraded to prevent too much growth.

David Frederick and several of his neighbors told the Monday that some of the homes in the area are more than 100 years old. The group had come to the board to give an informal prentation.

One home, known as The Sycamores, is more than 250 years old, Frederick said. He said the residents hired planner James Constatine to find a way to prevent the over-development of the 50-acre section of the township.

Constantine said  the 22 tax lots are in an area with a vague municipal boundary with Harding Township. He said there is a wide range of lot sizes and no two lots are alike. Current zoning allows building on .8 acres but the residents said they want that upgraded to a 2-acre minimum.

The township has no 2-acre zone, but that size would eliminate the possibility that some existing lots could be subdivided. Constatine said two houses, including The Sycamores, could even be slated as tear-downs under the new zoning. The zoning in adjacent Harding was recently changed from 3 to 5 acres.

Constantine said the residents took action after the 4-lot subdivision of Van Beuren Road created small lots. Planning board members said they were concerned those lots and one other small lot would be non-conforming and the landowners would have to apply for zoning variances to do nearly anything.

Township Planner Paul Phillips called that the “downside,” but and told the board the matter would be be a policy decision. He said nine of 14 homeowners are in favor of enlarging the zone.

Phillips also called the area an “enclave that relates to Harding Township with its large-lot zoning.”

Board Attorney Brian Burns said rezoning the 50-acre area would not be spot zoning, and also would not be considered arbitrary and capricious. He also said he isn’t concerned it would set a bad precedent.

The board will hear more about the Van Beuren Road proposal at the Monday, April 16 meeting.


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