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Cronin v. Planning Board of the Borough of Spring Lake Heights

A-4574-07T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2009) (Unpublished)

ZONING; VARIANCES — A variance should not be granted when the application is based solely on advancement of the application’s personal interests and does not provide a better zoning alternative for the municipality.

An owner of a two-story, single-family residence sought a variance to convert the first floor apartment to living space and convert the property to a multi-family use. The municipality’s zoning board of adjustment granted the variance. The owner then filed an application to raze a rear structure and subdivide the property into two lots. After a hearing, the board rejected the application. It held that approving the subdivision would be a detriment to the zoning scheme and would create a “land locked” lot having limited emergency accessibility and no public accessibility. The owner appealed.

The Law Division upheld the board’s determination. The owner appealed.

The Appellate Division affirmed, holding that the board did not act in an arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable manner. It held that there was sufficient evidence on the record to support a finding that the purposes of the municipality’s zoning scheme would not be advanced by a deviation from the zoning ordinance. The Court noted that the variance should not be granted when, as here, the application was based solely on advancement of the property owner’s personal interests and did not present a better zoning alternative. It agreed with the lower court that the owner failed to provide adequate proofs regarding the positive and negative criteria. The Court also found that no other landlocked parcels could be located in the area. Finally, it held that the grant of a variance would have only limited benefits which were substantially outweighed by it being a landlocked property.

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