Riverside Drive Remodel Work Approved

Changes include removal of detached garage, raised roof

May 24th, 2010

by Erik Weber

PINE BEACH - A Riverside Drive homeowner will be permitted to start upgrades and changes to her two-story cottage-style home, following the approval of variances by the borough land use board during their May 6th meeting, here.

Elizabeth Brooks, accompanied by her daughter, Ellen, and hired engineer, Jason Marciano of the Toms River-based East Coast Engineering, Inc., appeared before the board to apply for a bulk variance to her existing non-conforming property.

The home, located at 917 Riverside Drive, stands within a R75 zone on a 8,400-square-foot property, where 9,475 feet are required; has a 64-foot front lot width, where 75 feet are required; has a 140-foot lot depth, where 125 feet are required; contains a 3.1-foot side yard setback on the western property line, where 10 feet are required; and holds a front yard setback of 19.3 feet, where 20 feet are required.

The general reasons for granting the variances, stated Jack Mallon, borough engineer, were to request a temporary maintenance agreement with Ms. Brooks' western neighbors for allowing construction and future maintenance along the 3.1-foot setback border and to request any additional runoff caused by the upgrades be directed into drywells.

Included within the application materials was a 200-foot neighborhood aerial photograph and further photographs from the ground displaying the surrounding single family homes.

Mr. Marciano, walking the board through the 200-foot neighborhood application survey, described Riverside Drive as a "winding" and "meandering" roadway that produced adjacent lots with varying front lot widths, some as "narrow as 40 feet and as wide as 120 [feet]."

He also pointed out that the surrounding homes were typically one- or two-story single family dwellings of varying designs dating throughout the 20th century.

"It's a unique mix," the engineer noted.

The changes at 917 Riverside Drive, he said, included aligning some of the second floor exterior walls to those of the first.

"The first floor is wider than the second," Mr. Marciano continued. "The second floor is a little farther from the property line - we're not proposing the second floor to be any wider, we want to line up the walls for structural reasons."

"It wouldn't increase the setback or coverage," he added. "There's a den underneath that corner of the second floor and I see some downward bowing of the ceiling joists."

Another change as part of the proposal involved the roof.

"The roofline is real close to the top of the windows - we're gonna raise the roof in the neighborhood of two feet to give full height headroom [on the second floor]," stated Mr. Marciano. "The goal is to get eight-foot ceilings."

Further changes included creating a rooftop deck from what is currently two near floor-to-ceiling windows straddling a chimney along the front second floor of the home.

"It's going to be a roof deck no bigger than the existing first floor [to] enjoy the wonderful river view," he continued. "There will be no stairs and no other access [to the roof deck] except through that front bedroom.

Board members Stephen Bortko and Joseph Boyle requested details of what existed between the front chimney and interior wall, and whether the chimney would be raised in conjunction with the elevated roofline.

"The chimney will be raised ever so slightly," noted Ms. Brooks' daughter.

An existing detached garage, the applicant's engineer stated, would be removed as part of the proposal, with a newer garage constructed in its footprint at an undefined later date. A walkway currently on the property would also be replaced at that time.

Addressing Mr. Mallon's concern over drainage mitigation, he said that the removal of the garage would, at least until its future counterpart were built, reduce the amount of impervious lot coverage and therefore temporarily improve the property's ability to absorb runoff.

Mr. Marciano added that upon the construction of the future garage, runoff would be directed to new drywells to mitigate the then-increased impervious coverage to what currently exists on the property today.

He concluded by saying that he felt the project would improve the aesthetics of the house, and that a letter of permission from Ms. Brooks' neighbors was received to allow the construction and future maintenance of the home.

"It's very nice that when we have nice neighbors we all get along," noted Land Use Board Vice-Chairman Mark Wagner, who headed the board as acting chairman for the application when Board Chairman Jay Pierson stepped down for the application due to a possible conflict of interest.

Mr. Mallon noted that any attempts to make the lot conforming as part of the application would be impossible, as not enough land existed in adjacent lots to create two conforming lot sizes, and that, if approved, the work would not increase the lot coverage maximum beyond 25 percent, keeping it to approximately 19.4 percent.

Mr. Boyle asked if the general exterior of the home would be updated and in conformity with the surrounding homes.

"It's going to look great and be a good improvement," replied Mr. Marciano. "It won't look like it's gotten bigger but it will look more appealing."

"I think the overall property is going to increase the overall look of Riverside Drive and will maintain the character of what's there," concluded Mr. Boyle. "I think it's a good plan."

The board unanimously approved the application.

The next meeting of the borough land use board will be on Thursday, June 3rd at 7:30 pm in borough hall on Pennsylvania Avenue.