Site owner does, then asks for permission

Board allows aboveground pools to stay on property where they were prohibited


MILLSTONE — The owner of Seasonal World on Route 537 will be allowed to keep three aboveground display pools he erected without a permit.

At the Aug. 26 Zoning Board of Adjustmentmeeting, Anthony Schiavone, the proprietor of Seasonal World, was granted a use variance and amendment of major site plan approval in a unanimous vote.

When his site plan application was approved in 2001, there was a condition prohibiting aboveground pools on the property. Back then Schiavone said he did not sell aboveground pools.

When he came before the board last week, he explained that the economy has changed and he started selling aboveground pools this year.

“With the economy down, in-ground pool sales declined,” he said.

Now, aboveground pools make up 50 percent of his pool business, he said.

“There’s no in-between customer anymore, just no money and lot of money,” Schiavone said.A

basic aboveground pool retails at $2,100, but the price could range up to $7,000 when decks and landscaping are included. In-ground pools start at $20,000-$25,000, and the sky is the limit when landscaping is concerned, he said. However, these days it is nearly impossible for homeowners to get home equity loans to pay for pools, according to Schiavone.

The aboveground pools he constructed are located between his store and the neighboring Burger King, and cannot be seen from the highway. His engineer, Peter Strong of Crest Engineering, testified that the impervious coverage on the 2. 9-acre site has increased to .6 percent with the additional 800 square feet of pools. Strong said that all of the pools have cages around them, and no one can get in.

Chairman Michael Novellino told Schiavone that the board approves what it expects applicants to do with their sites.

Township Planner Richard Coppola said the applicant should have come before the board for approval, and that economics cannot serve as a reason for the board to grant approval. He added that this is not just a case of doing to earn more money, but having the necessary products to compete in business.

Board member Stephen Lambros said the board has been getting a lot of applicants lately who have taken it upon themselves to do what they want.

“There’s probably more out there we don’t know about,” he said. “I like the fact that he is trying to expand his business in a difficult time.”

Lambros noted that it is problematic when an applicant changes something and then asks permission.

Board member Frank Curcio said that he has trouble with applicants who plead ignorance as an excuse.

“That’s no alibi,” he said.

Board member Barry Frost said it is difficult to be in business today, and he would like to see the business succeed rather than go out of business.

“It’s something I had to do to survive,” Schiavone said. “It’s not done to disrespect the Zoning Board.”

Board Attorney Gregory Vella, who serves in the same position for Middletown Township, said that same week two similar applications came before that town’s board.

“It happens. It’s not unique to [Millstone],” he said.

Vella commented that the applicant was paying to have his attorney and engineer present for the hearing.

“At the end of the day, I believe the applicant wishes he had come before the board [in the first place],” Vella said.

Before the unanimous approval was granted, Novellino told Schiavone, “If you do what you say you are going to do, you won’t have problems before this board.”