Teaneck Board of Adjustment: “Democracy Dies in Darkness”

How development projects in your community are handled can vary, but it is often in a Board of Adjustment meeting where the best laid plans go awry. Teaneck has a Master Plan but developers, particularly of large structures such as apartments, request variances which sometimes are excessively at odds with what the Plan envisions. And residents are unaware what is transpiring.

The Teaneck Board of Adjustment met on Thursday and reviewed some fairly routine, primarily homeowner, requests for variances. However, the last time the Board published minutes of its meetings was on May 3, 2018. Included were brief information about variance requests and how each Board member voted. So where is the transparency? 

Fortunately, for the first time, video was posted on the website for the 2019 meetings of January 17, February 21 and March 7, but not for February 7 nor April 4. During the latter heated meeting residents insisted a member recuse himself and strongly protested against the variances requested for the 100 State Street apartment.  

Video is quite helpful, but the sound system in Council Chambers is poor and in need of upgrading. Even with the video, voting is is done quickly, and it is often difficult to ascertain how each member voted.  

Incidentally, on the May 3, 2018 agenda was the controversial 100 State Street application. It was carried forward to the next meeting. Apparently this project has a long history, including the sale/transfer from one developer to another. This project will again be reviewed on May 16 at 7:00 PM in the Teaneck High School Auditorium.

The Washington Post’s motto under its masthead is: “Democracy dies in darkness.”  The video technician was not present so don’t expect a video. Hopefully minutes of the meeting’s eight cases, and other past minutes, will soon be available.

These hearings are technical and can be confusing because the audience does not get the renderings and specifications which the Board members have in front of them. Typically a lawyer asks questions to an expert witness to justify the variances requested. An individual who opposes a variance has an opportunity to address the Board. At lat night’s meeting Board members patiently and politely asked their own questions and then rendered their decision.

Below are the first two cases:

  • At 296 Home Street the applicant sought a two-story rear addition to an existing two-family home. Variances requested were for building coverage, parking and expansion of use. Other confounding matters arose which needed further attention – the basement and legal classification of the house – so the proposal was carried forward to the next Board meeting.
  • At 265 Johnson Ave. one of the variances requested was driveway width. A neighbor asked the Board for more space between applicant’s driveway and the neighbor’s property. The Board suggested that the two groups get together in the hallway and discuss a possible compromise before rendering a judgment. The photo shows the lawyer and expert witness addressing the Board.

————

The site where you can see the above information regarding the minutes is here Select on the left Meetings/Agendas/Minutes and then select on the left under Meeting Groups: Board of Adjustment. You then can click on Minutes, but as of now you won’t see any unless you select 2018 as the year. Yow will see the Videos in 2019, and you can click there to view them.    

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *