Offices, maintenance use OK for Bennett Road site

Staff Writer

HOWELL — A proposal to revamp an existing equipment maintenance structure on Bennett Road has been approved by the Howell Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The application filed by Bennett Road Associates was initially scheduled for Nov. 17 and carried to Dec. 8. At the Dec. 8 meeting, the application was carried to Jan. 12.

Bennett Road Associates was granted approval on Jan. 12 to build construction offices and an equipment maintenance facility by renovating an existing building and storage equipment area in the Agricultural Rural Estate (ARE-6) zone.

The board voted 6-1 to approve the application following testimony that indicated the site contains a pre-existing commercial structure. Board members John Armata, Nino Borrelli, Daniel Cardellichio, Thomas Posch, Michael Sanclimenti and Chairman Wendell Nanson voted “yes.”

Board member Evelyn O’Donnell voted “no,” saying the applicant’s proposal was not suitable for the area of Bennett Road.

“While I believe this application is separate from an application [filed by PRP Services for a project on Bennett Road] that we have denied, I believe the project would not be of benefit to the area. And if the area is being left unkempt, the owner of the land should be notified by our code enforcement officer,” O’Donnell said.

Posch said the subject property as it exists is “not particularly attractive” and said the proposed work could help improve that situation.

“The land out there looks poor and is not in the greatest of conditions, and this applicant showed a willingness to make improvements to it without it being a hazard to the community,” he said.

Attorney Salvatore Alfieri, who represented Bennett Road Associates, said the applicant was seeking a use variance.

The applicant performs closed-circuit television camera inspection of pipelines for various companies and municipalities, and conducts hydraulic cleaning of the pipelines for several stormwater drains in various municipalities, according to Thomas Mullen, principal manager at Bennett Road Associates.

“My business requires trucks installed with cameras that travel to different sites and perform inspections. Townships usually call on my business for problems with the infrastructure of their drainage systems,” Mullen said.

The hours of operation for the business on Bennett Road will be 7:30 a.m. until about 4:30 or 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The majority of the work involving inspection of pipeline systems is conducted off-site, according to Mullen.

The business has 17 employees, with about five of them working off-site. The business also includes two office personnel.

The property that will be renovated was a heavily used commercial site in the past, according to Brian Murphy, an engineer and planner hired by the applicant. There are several storage areas on-site that the applicant will either get rid of or restore with the business.

“Three of the five adjacent properties within this area on Bennett Road are commercial properties, so I believe [the proposed use] fits in nicely with the area,” Murphy said.

In addressing the board members’ concerns regarding noise at the site, Mullen said there will be very little noise because the majority of work performed by the business is conducted off-site.

During public comment, two members of the public said they were concerned because the Bennett Road Associates application was similar to an application recently filed by PRP Services, a glass installation company that sought approval for a twostory office-warehouse building on Bennett Road.

PRP Services’ application for a use variance was denied, as zoning board members said the plan would not serve a purpose in an ARE-6 zone.

“What makes this [Bennett Road Associates] application different from PRP Services is the fact that PRP Services was attempting to make a site that is mainly used for farmland and agricultural purposes a commercial site,” Alfieri said. “My applicant is just looking to renovate a site for commercial purpose by other properties already using the zone for commercial use.”