Hardyston township manager and council discuss possible joint land use board

HARDYSTON. The idea is to direct zoning and planning applications under one board.

| 02 Aug 2022 | 12:17

At the recent Hardyson Township Council meeting, Township Manager Carrine Piccolo-Kaufer discussed during the manager’s report the possibility of establishing a joint land use board. Kaufer told the Advertiser that a land use board would combine functions of the current zoning and planning boards. Kaufer said the sub-committee met prior to June’s council meeting and some additional information was requested as it relates to the number of meetings, number of cases, and workload. One of the main concerns was related to whether or not by combining the boards, if the caseload would necessitate that there would be two meetings a month, which would require the same group of volunteers to come out twice a month instead of once a month.

Kaufer said she and Ann Marie, the land use administrator, pulled the last five years of board activity regarding the planning and zoning boards to get an idea of how frequently the boards met.

The planning board met an average of eight meetings a year. In 2022 the planning board has met three times and had one ordinance review. The zoning board in the past few years has met four to five times annually. In 2022 the Zoning Board has had a busy year and has met every month.

Kaufer suggested that if the township council votes to create a joint land use board then there would need to be two dates scheduled a month for possible hearings. This would guarantee to have the board’s members and professionals available, including the board attorney and engineer. Kaufer added that depending on the type of land use application and how involved the case is, more than one application could be heard at the same meeting.

A joint member board would require a nine-member board with four alternates. If the council decides on a joint land use board, it would be for January 2023.

The township council voted to introduce the ordinance authorizing the creation of the joint land use board during the regular portion of the meeting. The council voted 3-2 in favor of the joint land use board. Councilman Carl Miller expressed his dismay at the action taken to create the board and said, “It was a sad day for Hardyston.” Miller felt the planning board and zoning board were operating well. Mayor Frank Cicerale said he “believed it would create a savings.” The ordinance will be considered for adoption following a public hearing at an upcoming council meeting.