Zoning Board Approves New House On Undersized Lot

Karl Leveque1

Hollywood Avenue resident Karl Leveque spoke against a proposal to build a home on the lot next to his.

Several members weren’t happy about doing it, but the Board of Adjustment Oct. 1 approved a developer’s application to build a house on an undersized lot on Hollywood Avenue.

The target lot, at the corner of Hollywood and 12th Street, will hold a 1,700-square-foot three bedroom colonial.

What irked some board members is that the lot is about one-fifth the required size for a home.

Maureen Matson, who, with her husband Edward, will build the house, said it will hold 2 1/2 bathrooms, a living room, dining room and, hopeful, she said, a basement.

The house will front on Hollywood, she said.

Because the lot is undersized, the Matsons were required to approach adjacent neighbors to see if they could either buy more land to make it a conforming lot, or sell their lot to them.

Matson said she had conversations with one neighbor who seemed interested in buying her lot, but those discussions went nowhere.

But the neighbor, Karl Leveque of Hollywood Avenue, said the price was too high.

The Matsons, Leveque said, purchased the land at an estate sale, but would now sell it as a developable lot for a premium price.

“I would have been interested in it at (the estate sale price), but not at what they’re asking for it,” Leveque said.

Additionally, Leveque said, he was under the impression that the land was his. Leveque said the former owner told him the sale included both lots.

Another neighbor, Ray Garcia of 12th Street, said he was concerned about the salability of the house.

“I’m concerned that because of the glut of houses for sale in the neighborhood, that it won’t sell and it will become a rental,” he said.

“We’ve never had a problem selling new homes,” Matson said.

Stephen Fisk, the developer’s planner, said as many as possible of the trees would be preserved or replaced, especially along 12th Street.

Both Garcia and Leveque spoke against the application.

Garcia said his opposition is due “primarily because of the size of the lot. It’s getting very crowded in the area.”

Leveque said the house would “defeat the tranquility of the area.”

“I don’t think any of you, if you lived there, would want a house built there,” he said.

Matson’s attorney, Peter Lanfrit, said his client is proposing a “modest house, consistent with the size of the lot.”

“They’re proposing a house in keeping with the size of the lot and the neighborhood,” he said.

Board member Ray Betterbid questioned why the township continues to allow construction on undersized lots, and board member Robert Shepherd lamented what he called the inequity of builders buying land cheaply, then being allowed by state law to offer it for sale to neighbors at a premium.

When it was time to vote, board members Betterbid and Anthony Caldwell voted no, and several said they were voting yes reluctantly.

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