Hopewell Borough Planning Board adds new members, approves several measures

New Members

During the Hopewell Borough Planning Board meeting on September 7, William Rodgers was sworn in as Alternate #1 and Carolyn Colella was sworn in as Alternate #2.

Cannabis

The Board reviewed the consistency to the Master Plan of an ordinance that would allow class 5 and 6 cannabis businesses to operate in the Business-Residential and Service zone. The Board had found an earlier cannabis ordinance consistent with the Master Plan. 

Michele Hovan, Hopewell Borough Administrator, explained that the Borough had originally opted out of cannabis, and then later decided to allow delivery and retail in certain zones. Hovan said the new ordinance reduced the maximum licenses for retail from two to one. No limit exists in the ordinance for delivery licenses. 

Joanna Slagle, Hopewell Borough Planner, said that the ordinance was rewritten to give the Borough Council more control over the selection process. 

Marylou Ferrara, Vice-Chair of the Board, said that nothing was substantially different from the first time the ordinance was approved as being consistent with the Master Plan. The Board agreed and the ordinance’s consistency review was approved. 

77 Model Avenue

The Board approved a Certificate of Appropriateness for updates to 77 Model Avenue. Vinyl siding and trim will be added while keeping the same “midnight blue” color of the house with white trim in the form of aluminum sheeting. Insulation will be added underneath the siding for preservation and energy efficiency. 

24 Model Avenue townhomes

The Board approved a resolution for the final site plans for thirteen residential townhomes at 24 Model Avenue at the site of the lumberyard as the applicant had met all the conditions set forth in the last meeting.  

74 East Prospect

A public hearing was held for a request for a Certificate of Non-Conforming Use to permit more than one principal residential building per lot at 74 East Prospect Street, because a technicality was preventing the current owners from successfully selling the property. Two contracts to buy the property have been terminated because of an alleged lack of a variance. 

The property is a two-story, two-family residential rhome rented as a duplex, a rental cottage, and a garage. Owner Karen Keri testified that her family purchased the property from a friend as an investment. The friend had owned the home less than a year after purchasing it from his mother who had owned the property since the 1970s. All the homes on the property have been rentals since the 1970s. 

Elizabeth McManus, Licensed Planner, testified on behalf of the applicant that aerial photographs of the property show that the cottage was present in 1940 as a likely garage, and by 1956 the building had been converted into a residence. Based on all the evidence, the building changed use before Hopewell Borough changed zoning in 1975, therefore, McManus said, it would be reasonable to grant the non-conforming use variance. 

Peter MacHoldt, Board Chair, asked, “When she bought the property, was it already a rental?”

“Yes, the property was rented and occupied when she bought the property,” responded Graig Corveleyn, attorney for the applicant. 

Kathy Ryan testified that her backyard connects to the property and that she had never had any problems from the residences. 

The Board made and approved a motion to provide a Certificate of Pre-existing Non-conformity to the applicant. 

The Board then continued to hear discussions about revisions to the 2,000 square foot limit on businesses in the Master Plan. The current ordinance requires business owners who operate in an existing structure that exceeds 2,000 square feet to apply for a variance. 

Slagle said that the variance could be re-written so that the limit did not apply to an existing building’s footprint, but only apply to new construction or expansions. New constructions will not exceed 2,000 square feet, and an expansion on an existing structure can only add up to 2,000 square feet of total area. 

Macholdt said that there were few places in the Borough where this would even come up and if the state of an existing building is unaltered that the business should be able to operate within the existing square footage. 

The Board voted to send the ordinance change to Hopewell Borough Council where it will be introduced in October. 

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