This proposed 16,350 square foot house of worship would require
65% more land than owned to meet the legal requirements.
The structure would be too big, too high, too wide, too close to neighbors,
and without a major variance, would not be legal.

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The Item of Millburn and Short Hills
Thursday, February 11, 2010

Developers from Greener Homes, LLC looking to subdivide property in Millburn’s historic Wyoming district are going to have to wait a little longer.

The Millburn Planning Board voted Feb. 3 to forward the major subdivision application of 114 Glen Ave. to the Historic Preservation Commission for comment before approving the project.

Engineer Richard Keller of Casey and Keller Inc. spent more than two hours presenting the proposal and answering questions and comments at the Planning Board meeting.

The plan calls to divide the 17,389-square- The plan calls to divide the 17,389-square<w

The first lot would contain 114 Glen Ave., the 125-year-old house that was relocated from Sagamore Road to its current location sometime between 1906 and 1928, said Keller.

The second piece of land would most likely accommodate another single-family dwelling, but there are no building plans yet.

The only request made besides the subdivision made at the Feb. 3 meeting was the reconfiguration of the current driveway.

Anthony Cerciello of Levitt and Cerciello in Millburn represented the applicants. He is requesting three C-1 variances to address minor shortfalls in the side yard, garage and front yard setbacks.

"We need three variances and this board is empowered by reason of exceptional circumstances of a lawfully existing historic structure," said Cerciello.

Cerciello maintains that changing these current conditions to meet code would create undue hardship for the owner and possibly require partial or complete demolition of the home.

Donald Young lives at 120 Glen Ave., adjacent to the newly proposed divided lot. He said that when he bought the house with his wife, the seller’s attorney assured them no one would build on the land next to them.

"One hundred fourteen does need changes, but you don’t cut and divide it, it stays as is," said Young. "Why do away with historical places? It just takes away from the community’s history."

Young also asserted that the application was not properly proposed to the Historic Preservation Committee.

Keller maintained, however, that the Historic Preservation Committee would be part of any changes. Any construction on the new lot would still be under the purview of the HPC.

"Any reconstruction or repairs to 114 Glen would have to be approved by the HPC to move forward because it is a designated historical structure," said Keller.

Keller pointed out that the subdivision will not disrupt or affect the historical character of the lot because the location of the new house would not block the view of 114 Glen Ave., therefore maintaining its stately nature.

He also notes that the houses surrounding the notable lot were most likely built in the 1920s.

"We are not putting something between two 1885 zones, the construction would be a transition between the historic and non-historic sections of Wyoming," said Keller.

Board Attorney Stuart Koenig referred to legalities when advising the board.

"I have a legal concern," said Koenig. "The HPC hasn’t had the opportunity to comment on whether the grounds surrounding this house are impacted, to which the application says they aren’t."

He said in the procedural section of the township statute the HPC should review and render a report on the application.

Deputy Mayor Sandra Haimoff said she would feel better if she could hear what township experts had to say.

Cerciello objected to the idea of waiting for the next HPC meeting, which isn’t until March 4,

"The statute says that one member be available to us," said Cerciello.

Board member Joseph Steinberg reminded him that HPC is bound to make these recommendations through the Open Meetings Act.

"Besides you would want them all to make a decision, not just one," said Haimoff.

Resident Elizabeth Henry is concerned that the developers are taking advantage of a piece of township history.

"That lot was bought cheaply, so that if it was fixed up and not subdivided these developers will lose money," said Henry.

The Planning Board is lined up to re-hear the application with the supplement recommendation from the HPC on March 17.

Save Millburn is the name for the local, registered, non-profit group,
The Concerned Neighborhood Association of Millburn Township, Inc. - Email