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Zeman v. Township of River Vale Zoning Board of Adjustment

2010 WL 1028589 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2010) (Unpublished)

ZONING; VARIANCES — To obtain a variance, an applicant needs to show that the deviation from the zoning requirements would advance the purposes of the Municipal Land Use Law, that the variance can be granted without substantial detriment to the public good, that the benefits outweigh the detriments, and that the variance would not substantially impair the intent and purposes of the zoning plan and ordinances.

A developer applied for several variances in order to construct a single-family house on a property. At the hearings, a neighbor argued that the proposed structure was too large for the lot and would change the character of the neighborhood. The municipal zoning board approved the variance application. It concluded that: (a) the structure would “result in a harmonious relationship” between the property and others in the area; (b) the variances would not have an adverse impact and could be granted without substantial detriment to the public good; (c) the variances would not substantially impair the intent and purpose of the master plan and zoning ordinances; and (d) the structure would result in an “overall aesthetic enhancement of the site.” The neighbor sued, arguing that the zoning board’s decision was arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable. The lower court affirmed the zoning board decision and the neighbor appealed. The Appellate Division affirmed.

The Court noted that the developer needed to show that the deviation from zoning requirements would advance the purposes of the Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL), that the variance could be granted without substantial detriment to the public good, that the benefits outweigh the detriments, and that the variance would not substantially impair the intent and purposes of the zoning plan and ordinances. The Court found that the lower court correctly determined that the zoning board’s decision was not arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable. It noted the zoning board’s findings that the variance would enhance the overall aesthetic of the neighborhood furthers one of the purposes of the MLUL. It also noted that the zoning board’s finding that the new house would result in a harmonious relationship between the property and others would not substantially impair the intent and purposes of the zoning plan and ordinances. The Court found sufficient credible evidence to support the lower court’s findings that the zoning board did not act unreasonably, arbitrarily or capriciously.


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