Lamphier v. Borough of Westwood Planning Board

A-6813-97T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 1999) (Unpublished)
  • Opinion Date: August 13, 1999

ZONING; VARIANCES—The grant by a planning board of a variance for a deviation from frontage requirements for one lot doesn’t require it to grant a variance to another lot.

An applicant sought subdivision approval to create two lots, each of which would conform to the minimum size required for the subject residential zone, but the frontage of one lot that would have been created was approximately eight feet less than that required by the municipal ordinance. The planning board and the lower court concluded that the applicant did not meet the burden of establishing that the requested variance would benefit the community rather than merely advancing the purposes of the owner. In an earlier case cited by the Court, it was held that a planning board could seek to maintain harmonious lot sizes to promote one of the purposes of zoning, i.e., that of “appropriate population densities.” In that case, the board had approved a sixteen percent deviation from frontage requirements in order to permit creation of lots consistent with the neighboring properties. The Court, however, did not believe that the cited case required that a planning board must necessarily make a similar determination in all cases. “This is precisely why the local expertise and familiarity of municipal planning boards is an integral part of the planning and variance scheme of the Municipal Land Use Law.” Accordingly, the Court affirmed the lower court’s decision which, itself, had affirmed the planning board’s decision.