Township of Mahwah, NJ
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MARCH 25, 2002



The combined public/work session meeting of the Planning Board of the Township of Mahwah, held at the Municipal Building, 300B Route 17 S., Mahwah, NJ was called to order at 8:00 P.M. by Dr. Ross, Chairman. The Opening Statement was read according to the Sunshine Law, followed by the flag salute and roll call.

These minutes are a synopsis of the meeting. A verbatim audio tape recording is on file with the Board Secretary at the Planning Board Office, 300B Route 17 S., Mahwah, New Jersey. Copies of the tapes may be purchased for a fee.

PRESENT: Mayor Martel, Mr. Arbuckle, Mr. Muscarelle, Ms. Omsberg, Dr. Ross, Mr. Trent, Mr. Dekramer, Mr. Paton, Mr. Jandris.

ABSENT: Mr. Brotherton, Ms. Solomon.

PROFESSIONALS: Michael Kelly, P.E., Peter Scandariato, Esq.


No bills were presented for payment.


A motion was made by Ms. Omsberg and seconded by Mr. Paton to approve the minutes of March 11, 2002 with no changes or corrections, all in favor.


The resolutions were introduced on a motion by Ms. Omsberg and seconded by Mr. Trent. A motion was made by Ms. Omsberg and seconded by Mr. Trent to waive the reading of the resolutions, all in favor.

From 2/25/02 Meeting:
Dkt. #433, Prestige BMW

A motion to approve was made by Ms. Omsberg and seconded by Mr. Trent. A roll call of members present revealed 6 aye votes by Mr. Arbuckle, Mr. Muscarelle, Ms. Omsberg, Dr. Ross, Mr. Dekramer and Mr. Jandris approving the memorializing resolution from February 25, 2002. Mayor Martel, Mr. Trent and Mr. Paton abstained from voting.

From 3/11/02 Meeting:
T/A #2001, Flyte Tyme Limo, Amendment

A motion to approve was made by Mr. Paton and seconded by Mr. Dekramer. A roll call of members present revealed 9 aye votes by Mr. Arbuckle, Mr. Muscarelle, Mayor Martel, Ms. Omsberg, Dr. Ross, Mr. Trent, Mr. Dekramer, Mr. Paton, Mr. Jandris approving the memorializing resolution from March 11, 2002.


A motion was made to open the meeting to the public by Mr. Trent and seconded by Mr. Dekramer, all were in favor.

Elaine Kowmacki of 1518 Faulkner Court stated that she was here on behalf of her mother Helen Kowmacki who is the taxpayer for Block 17, Lot 19 at 35 Island Road, Mahwah with the support of Evelyn Kowmacki, Block 37, Lot 18 and Anna Strusky Block 17, Lots 20 and 21 regarding a resolution passed by the Planning Board on February 28, 2000, pertaining to the improvement of Mountain Avenue for building purposes for Lot 34.01. She stated that she and the property owners were unaware of this resolution until recently.

Elaine stated that the Notice of Valuation for the years 2002 and 2003 was received by Helen Kowmacki for Block 17, Lot 19. The valuation was lowered from the previous year’s by 438%, however, it was still an increase of 300% compared to the tax year 2000 and 2001. Elaine Kowmacki stated that further investigation revealed that the increased taxes were a result of the Planning Board’s February 28, 2000 decision concerning the status of Mountain Avenue. The facts she stated are: Township Ordinances 65 and 66 of 1931 vacated Mountain Avenue. Lot 34 was not affected by this Ordinance. A court case decided in 1956 did not affect Lot 34 because the property frontage was Railroad Avenue. In 1988 and 1989 Lot 34 was subdivided creating a land locked lot 34.01. To her knowledge such subdivisions are prohibited. The 1989 Planning Board assumed that Mountain Avenue would be the frontage property.

Elaine Kowmacki said this error in judgment is the cause of the problem. She feels the 1956 case was meant to be a deterrent to forming lots such as 34.01 She stated that the creation of lot 34.01 is clearly the source of the problem. Elaine Kowmacki stated that she feels an incorrect resolution was passed in 1988 and 1989. She said that the resolution of February 28, 2000 compounds the problems and does not serve the property owners’ interests. She stated that the tax increases arising from this situation are staggering, and that the subdivision should be overturned. She urged the Planning Board to reverse its February 28, 2000 resolution. She said the vacation of Mountain Avenue is not the problem nor should it be used to resolve the problem.

Mr. Scandariato addressed this issue. He stated that in 1988 the prior Board did a subdivision on the property that fronted on what was ostensibly Mountain Avenue and said that no building permit could be issued for the house on the subdivision property until adequate arrangements for the improvement of Mountain Avenue had been made. Mr. Scandariato said it was under the soil movement application to do the improvements. At the time the issue of the vacation of Mountain Avenue came up Mr. Scandariato researched the issue with the benefit of applicant’s title searches. The Board concluded that although Mountain Avenue had been vacated as a public street, it appeared on the official maps as a street and although it was no longer a public street, it did not lose its character as a private right-of-way. Most of the properties were sold with reference to Mountain Avenue. He stated that the Board determined that it did not affect its status as a private right-of-way.

Mr. Scandariato told Elaine Kowmacki that there is nothing that this Board can do because there is no application pending before it with regard to that subdivision. This Board cannot reverse a decision made by the Board 14 years ago. Mr. Scandariato said there is no relief that this Board can grant. If there is a tax issue it can be addressed by the Township Council.

Elaine Kowmacki stated that they had addressed it with the Tax Board and that they were told that Mountain Avenue would then be opened as a private right-of-way. She stated that they were never notified of the change in status that would affect them. They have no guidelines as to what the improvements will be. She said it is increasing the taxes against our will.

Mr. Scandariato told her that she should go to the Tax Board by means of a tax appeal by April 1st and that she would possibly get some relief from that Board.

Elaine Kowmacki asked if the property had been surveyed. She stated that “our property borderlines the improvement that Mahwah III intends to make”. She also stated that some of the people feel there is not enough land on the part of Mountain Avenue at the end of the street to be a legal right-of-way. She stated that Mountain Avenue has a lot of inconsistencies relating to it.
Anna Strusky questioned how the trucks would turn around, would they back in to her yard?

Mr. Scandariato stated that they will pull out the plans and look at them. File for tax appeal with the Bergen County Tax Board before April 1st and in the meantime we will figure out the meetings, minutes and plans and see what is going on.

Helen Kowmacki stated that according to senior residents when the initial property was bought in 1925 and 1926 lots were 50' x 100' now according to the tax map and a deed the lot is 50' x 115'. She thinks that the 15 ft. extension could be the ½ of Mountain Avenue in controversy.

Mr. Scandariato requested an opportunity to look into it and asked for Elaine Kowmacki’s phone number and advised her that he would research the matter and contact her.

Dr. Ross again informed Elaine Kowmacki that she could file an appeal before the Tax Board.

A motion was made to close the meeting to the public by Mr. Trent and seconded by Ms. Omsberg, all were in favor.


A. BD-216-1297, O’Grady, Midvale Mtn. Rd., Soil

Tibor Latincsics of Conklin Associates was sworn in. He stated he was present on behalf of his client Mr. O’Grady.

Under questioning by Ms. Omsberg, Mr. Latincsics stated that Mr. O’Grady purchased lots 159.01 and 159.02 from Mr. Statile. This application pertains to Lot 159.02 only and that this lot was a 5.91 acre parcel. Mr. Latincsics stated that Mr. O’Grady wants to build a single family home on this property which is located in the C-200 Conservation Zone. There will be a 15-1/2% disturbance which is within the allowable 20% disturbance for this zone.

Mr. Latincsics stated that there will be soil movement import of 453 c.y. primarily for the construction of the driveway. The property will be serviced by a private well. A full application has been made to the Health Department regarding the disturbance with regard to the septic system. He stated that Mr. Ostrow requested a modification be made extending the drain to the west corner of the home. He anticipates that there will be 3 more trees removed. He said a report from the Environmental Commission granting approval has been received and they have approval from the Bergen County Soil Conservation District.
Under questioning by Mayor Martel as to where the soil would come from, Mr. Latincsics stated that it is not known at this time but he would anticipate that the soil would come from the south up Route 202 or they will try to coordinate with Rio Vista if they have excess soil and it would come up Midvale Mountain Road via Rt. 202 by a southern or northern approach. Mr. Latincsics stated that the source and route of travel is designated when they have a start date.

Ms. Wiley stated that the Environmental Commission approved the soil movement but requested that the tree removal be minimized by working with the grade in the front and asked Mr. Latincsics if he had looked into this matter.

Mt. Latincsics stated that the major factor was the steep slope going up Midvale Mountain Road. To get to the home site they start the driveway at the high side. Right in front of the home the driveway has 6 feet of fill, they would leave a trapped water area. There is tree removal associated with the septic system. There is not much of a rear yard. The lot is 1,060 ft. deep it has a 50 ft. back yard at most. The remainder of the tree removal is the driveway. There is not much opportunity to minimize tree removal in between the driveway and the home.

The house is 106 ft. back from the pavement of Midvale Mountain Road.

Mr. Kelly stated that they had submitted their report and that Conklin Associates has addressed the majority of their comments, there are a few items outstanding. He spoke with Mr. Latincsics earlier and he thinks they are all items they can address.

Ms. Omsberg requested information regarding seepage pit calculations.

Mr. Latincsics stated that the seepage pits were designed for the 25 year storm pursuant to the municipal ordinance. There is a trench drain at the bottom of the driveway so that any runoff rolling down the driveway would enter that drain. There are three seepage pits proposed.

Ms. Omsberg asked about the septic system.

Mr. Latincsics stated that full application had been made to Mr. Ostrow. Mr. Ostrow asked for a drain to the rear of the system. Mr. Latincsics said they would modify the plans.

Ms. Omsberg asked Mr. Kelly if it was safe to give permits for wells with the drought situation.

Mr. Kelly stated he would look into it.

Mr. Jandris requested that Mr. Latincsics point out the northerly property line from Midvale Mountain Road and asked if it was a private or town road.

Mr. Scandariato said it is not a town or county road, it is a public road. The public can use it but the town or county does not own it.

Mr. Muscarelle , Mr. Paton and Mr. Latincsics discussed 12" RCP and runoff.

Mr. Paton asked if 12" is sufficient.

Mr. Kelly stated he did not see why it would not be. If the culvert did not have enough capacity it would flow over the driveway back into the swale.

Mr. Paton asked about the angle of the driveway and if there is enough swing to get out on the road.

Mr. Latincsics said it could be widened.

Mr. Kelly said he would look at increasing the radius.

Ms. Omsberg asked whether it would be owner occupied.

Mr. Latincsics said it would be owner occupied.

Dr. Ross asked Mr. Kelly if he was satisfied.

Mr. Kelly stated that there are some items but they can be addressed by the applicant. The first item is drainage issues - they will be required to compensate for any increase in runoff.

Mr. Latincsics stated there are three seepage pits.

Dr. Ross asked if the pit at the base of the driveway took the roof leaders.

Mr. Latincsics stated that the two pits between the home and the driveway take the roof leaders. The one at the base of the driveway is specifically for the driveway.

Mr. Jandris asked if the driveway is going to be macadam or paved.

Mr. Latincsics stated the current proposal for the first two years is for crushed stone.

Ms. Omsberg requested clarification on what the Environmental Commission said regarding the number of trees to be cut down.
Ms. Wiley read the letter from the Environmental Commission regarding reduction of trees to be removed.

Ms. Omsberg asked how many trees were going to be cut down.

Mr. Latincsics answered 60 trees.

Ms. Omsberg said plus three. Mr. Latincsics - Yes.

A motion to open to the public was made by Mr. Arbuckle and seconded by Mr. Trent. All in favor.

A motion to close the meeting to the public was made by Mr. Trent and seconded by Mr. Arbuckle - All in favor.

A motion to approve was made by Mr. Trent and seconded by Mayor Martel, conditioned upon the engineering requirements, zero rate of runoff, 63 trees to be removed, 16 trees to be replaced and maintenance of the trench drain.

A roll call of members present revealed 8 aye votes by Mr. Arbuckle, Mayor Martel, Ms. Omsberg, Dr. Ross, Mr. Trent, Mr. Dekramer, Mr. Paton and Mr. Jandris and one Nay vote by Mr. Muscarelle.

Mr. O’Grady stated that it is his intent to save as many trees as possible.



This matter was carried to a future meeting.



A motion was introduced to approve the first three tenant applications by Mr. Muscarelle and was seconded by Mr. Dekramer.

A roll call of members present revealed nine aye votes, Mr. Arbuckle, Mr. Muscarelle, Mayor Martel, Ms. Omsberg, Dr. Ross, Mr. Trent, Mr. Dekramer, Mr. Paton and Mr. Jandris


Mr. Dekramer stated that the tenant advised the committee that the owner of the property told him he could display the cars in the front on the grass.

Ms. Wiley advised that there was prior litigation in this matter.

Mr. Dekramer stated the tenant advised that he would not have a retail operation - that he did classic car restoration.

Dr. Ross suggested that they request that the tenant come before a full Board and that he also bring the owner of the property so that they can get further clarification and so that they can define the parking areas.

Ms. Wiley stated that a letter would be sent out requesting that he come before the Board on April 22, 2002 and that he bring along the owner of the property.


No old or new business.


A motion to adjourn was made by Mr. Arbuckle, seconded by Mr. Trent at 9:22 P.M., all were in favor.

These minutes were prepared by Joan Mandle

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