Howell council delays action on buffer zone near streams

Staff Writer

Howell council delays action
on buffer zone near streams
Staff Writer

HOWELL — An amendment to Howell’s riparian buffer ordinance was pulled from a vote at last week’s Township Council meeting where it had been scheduled for adoption.

Township Manager Bruce Davis said the amendment was removed from the July 20 agenda so the Planning Board could review it.

The riparian ordinance as it stands prevents any construction or placement of structures within 100 feet of either side of a stream corridor. The amendment extends the parameters of the ordinance to 300 feet on either side of a stream corridor. Anyone who wanted to build an impervious surface or structure within the buffer zone would need a use variance in order to do so.

Township Engineer William A. Nunziato said the amendment will contain stipulations for relief for property owners who find the new restrictions will prevent sheds, pools and other permanent structures from being built within the 300-foot wide buffer zone.

Nunziato, who hears appeals on land use matters, said the amendment will allow him to grant approval for as much as 3,500 square feet of impervious surface in a buffer zone if an applicant qualifies under specific guidelines.

Davis said this is being done in the interest of fairness to homeowners who find themselves with back yards that are rendered virtually unusable due to riparian constraints being set forth by the township and state.

The 300-foot buffer zone would be adopted by the council in order to comply with state directives relating to the protection of watershed areas. Much of Howell is included in the state-protected watershed areas.

Howell’s ordinance identifies a riparian corridor as "the land area that acts as a transition between the aquatic and upland ecosystems." It goes on to state that the riparian buffer zone will apply to "any area of land within a minimum width of 300 feet located adjacent on either side to permanent or intermittent stream corridors, lakes and ponds."

Planning Board member Stanley Marciniak said the board reviewed and approved the proposed riparian ordinance amendment at its July 22 meeting.

Davis said the amendment will now be scheduled for action at an upcoming council meeting.