May meeting

By: Marianne Hooker
   At its May 1 meeting, the Hopewell Township Zoning Board of Adjustment granted three hardship variances for residential properties.
   One of the variances will allow construction of a detached garage, and the other two will allow additions to existing dwellings.
   Several months ago, Voice Stream Wireless requested a use variance to build a new telecommunications tower off Pennington-Rocky Hill Road. Further testimony on this application has been postponed until the board’s meeting in June.
   Addition to existing dwelling — Mark and Diane Barnabie, who live at 16 Hedgecroft Drive in the Brandon Farms subdivision, have property located in the R-5 zone. Ms. Barnabie said the house they live in has no basement, and they would like to add a play area for their children. They were requesting a three-foot variance to the required front yard setback, in order to expand an existing room by three feet. The room in question has a cathedral ceiling, so they would not be adding any space on the second floor.
   Ms. Barnabie said plans had been approved by the Architectural Control Committee of the Brandon Farms Homeowners’ Association. The property in question is located on a corner lot, which means that the side yard is considered a second front yard from the standpoint of the zoning ordinance. The proposed addition would actually be on the side, rather than the front of the house. There would be no outside entrance to the proposed addition.
   A board member asked if the homeowners had considered expanding the house to the rear, which might be done with no need for a variance. Ms. Barnabie said they had thought about this possibility; however, they do not have a very big back yard, and they did not wish to make it any smaller.
   There were no comments on this application from any members of the public. The board voted unanimously to approve the Barnabies’ variance request. Board member Richard Willever commented that the additional three feet will pose no problem for any of the neighbors.
   Height variance for detached garage — Michael Mitrano, who lives at 5 Wrick Avenue in Titusville, asked for a 5-foot height variance for a detached three-car garage. Mr. Mitrano said he bought his house as a bachelor in 1986. The building has limited storage space and no garage. Mr. Mitrano said he now has a wife and three children, and they require a lot more storage space to meet their needs.
   Under terms of the zoning ordinance, the applicant could build a garage of the desired height with no need for a variance, as long as the garage was attached to the house. However, Mr. Mitrano said they were reluctant to build an attached garage, because it would cause them to lose some windows. They also felt an attached garage would be out of scale with the rest of the house, and out of keeping with other buildings in the neighborhood.
   According to Mr. Mitrano, an attached garage would require them to remove their two largest trees. The present plan also would require removing some trees, but they would be smaller ones. Mr. Mitrano said the building materials for the proposed garage would match those of the main house. Also, he said he did not intend to use the second story of the garage for living space. No one from the public made any comments on the variance request, and the board approved it with little discussion.
   Second building addition — Robert A. Wilson Jr. of 2560 Pennington Road asked for an additional front yard setback variance of 7 feet, for a house that already encroaches on the required 100-foot setback by 55 feet. Mr. Wilson is planning to add a second floor to the existing building, and the proposed 7-foot addition would allow him to build on a front porch as well. The property in question is located in the C-1 zone, adjacent to the Wilson-Apple Funeral Home.
   Mr. Wilson said they would not need to remove any of the pine trees in the front yard. He said the building setback with the proposed porch would be consistent with those of other residential buildings nearby. Most of the neighboring homes also have non-conforming front yard setbacks.
   There were no comments on this application from any members of the public. The board approved Mr. Wilson’s variance request by a unanimous vote.
   In other business, the board adopted resolutions of memorialization to formalize its approval last month of variance requests by Laurie and Todd Martin and Sean Taylor.