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Resident’s Pickle Ball court, Pool Application Put On Hold At Zoning Board

Second Street resident Neil Patel’s plan for a “sport court” and in-ground pool in his backyard wasn’t winning raves from the Zoning Board.

Update: A Second Street resident’s application to install an in-ground pool and build a pickleball court in his backyard was partially approved at the Zoning Board of Adjustment’s March 3 meeting. The Board approved a modified plan, without the court, after concerns were raised about the amount of impervious coverage the court would create, as well as potential noise issues.

A township resident who wants to install a pool and Pickle Ball court in his Second Street backyard may have to alter his plans.

That’s because township regulation prohibit the construction of anything on its easements, and Franklin holds easements for drainage and sewer right where the resident, Neil Patel, wants to place his Pickle Ball court.

The issue came to a head during a hearing on the application at the Zoning Board’s January 20 meeting, when Mark Healey, the township’s Principal Planner, told Patel’s attorney that the court and a fence planned for that area will have to be moved.

“It’s the township’s policy not to allow any improvements in the easement,” Healey said. Referring to a November 30 memo from the township’s Technical Review Committee, Healey said “the Sewage Authority and the township DPW have said in this report that those improvements need to be out of these easements.”

Patel’s attorney, Larry Calli, told Healey that there were fences on the easements on properties up and down Second Street.

“I want the applicant to consider his alternatives relative” to the Pickle Ball court, Calli said. “I think we will have to leave this for another day.”

In addition to the 1,320-square-foot “sport court” for Pickle Ball, Patel also plans to install an 800-square-foot in-ground pool and patio.

The project would increase the impervious surface coverage on the property from the existing 33 percent to nearly 43 percent, when township regulations allow 25 percent.

Calli’s continued description of the project as “nominal” eventually drew the ire of Board member Robert Shepherd.

“You keep saying nominal,” he said. “You’ve gone from 2,500 square feet and you’re almost at 5,000 square feet; to us, it doesn’t look so nominal.”

“You’re basically exceeding the amount of impervious coverage, almost doubling it,” Shepherd said. “Calling it modest isn’t really going to win the day here. Seems to me there is a concern, on my part anyway, that what you’re proposing is not in any way going to help the stormwater management issues. You’re one of many houses, and if you get your way, other houses are going to want to do the same thing.”

“I heard you loud and clear, which is your opinion before we’ve even completed the presentation,” Calli said.

John Ferrante, the project’s engineer, said the patio could be converted to a porous surface by spacing out pavers.

Storm water runoff would be directed to a dry well located between the patio and the sport court, Ferrante said.

Patel told the Board that he wanted to make the improvements so his family could get out of the house during the pandemic. Patel’s neighbors on either side of his house called in to the hearing to voice their support for his project.

The hearing was adjourned until March 3 to give Patel time to consider his options with the placement of the sport court.

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