Cannabis Variances for Dispensaries,
CBD Retailers & Master Planning
We've won use variances for Retail Cannabis & CBD Product Sales for multiple locations that do not comply with local zoning requirements. Our Neighborhood Compatibility Plan, for a Cannabis Retail site (with Drive Thru) in East Newark justified variances using ESRI Geospatial & Demographic analytics for a 5 minute walking distance of the site. In Butler, NJ we obtained approvals for several sites violating local minimum buffer distances with D3 Conditional Use Approval. In Sussex, NJ, we obtained setback, parking and loading variances for cannabis retail occupancy at a gateway Main Street site. In Rockaway Borough, NJ we secured approval for our client's second retail location for CBD Products, combined with a residential apartment, getting D1 Use Variances in a zone prohibiting both uses. For Livingston, NJ, we prepared the adopted Master Plan Addendum, serving as the basis for the Township's zoning regulations on cannabis related uses in the community.
Via Billboard Denial
As sole expert witness for the stewards of the historic home of New Jersey's first Governor (Livingston Bowers House, circa 1752) we won unanimous denial of an LED Billboard proposed opposite the compound after 18 months and four public hearings. The Parsippany site is on the State and National Register of Historic Places and protected by a NJ State Historic Trust Easement for public benefit. The 4.27 acre historic site would suffer degradation and substantial negative impact from the viewshed intrusion of the proposed off premise signage. Our professional planning testimony included multiple exhibits plus an extensive analysis of topographic elevations. This presentation convinced the Zoning Board that the applicant failed to meet the Positive and Negative criteria for Use, Height and setback variances.
3D Model, Design Visualization,
EIS & 13 Variances Approved
We created a 3D Computer Generated Imagery model of a proposed, historically accurate dwelling, boathouse & garage on an environmentally sensitive Lake Hopatcong site with steep slopes (24% average grade). We geolocated the 3D CGI model into the Google Earth landscape and digitally rendered two viewpoints for our client to evaluate the compatibility of the preliminary architectural design in context. Based on our design visualization, the client reduced the scale of the dwelling to enhance harmony with the area. The new site design incorporated our recommended rain garden for water quality protection. We completed an Environmental Impact Statement and provided expert Professional Planning testimony to secure project approval with 13 variances including FAR, impervious coverage and steep slope disturbance.
Approved FAR & Use Variances via CAD Concept
Our client wanted to increase ROI for a building formerly used as a movie theater in Butler, NJ. We prepared a CAD concept plan for 15 units within the existing building, based on the survey. Our work included a 3D model and context sensitive renderings, from multiple aerial viewpoints, with a rooftop lounge and ground floor garage. We calculated the number of trips for the former movie theater use and multifamily use, calculated the developed density for the neighborhood and prepared a zoning analysis of existing and proposed conditions. Our expert testimony and visualizations secured the Use and FAR variances for adaptive reuse of the building with a garage and 15 upper story living units to revitalize the neighborhood.
Expert Witness on
We understand the implications of rezoning and have successfully qualified as an Expert Professional Planner in Tax Court. We produce a firm rationale when preparing zone changes and during the site plan review process. For BMW's 80+ acre North American Headquarters campus in Woodcliff Lake, NJ, we consolidated three zones
into one, creating a single zone for both campus elements. We conducted site plan review and provided planning expertise during pubic hearings. Years later, we convinced the Tax Court that the campus is one integrated site in a tax dispute.
RLUIPA & Inherently Beneficial Land Use
We prevailed after 14 hearings in opposition to Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America's proposed hotel/conference center in an exclusive residential neighborhood in Englewood, NJ. Although the site had a chapel, we convinced the approving authority the use was not a place of worship, RLUIPA's religious exercise/substantial burden standard does not apply and the use is not inherently beneficial.
Parking & Variance for Gaming Center
We conducted a parking study at the 180,000 sf Rockaway River Commons shopping mall on Route 46 to persuade the ZBA to grant a use variance for a non-permitted use (gaming center) with a parking deficiency on-site. The parking study evaluated the 834 space parking lot occupancy at various times to demonstrate that the proposed gaming center, with a parking shortfall, would not result in any substantial detriment. The gaming center contains 100+ pinball machines and classic arcade games. It complements the 19 acre site and other tenants including Applebee's and Popeye's.
Inherently Beneficial Use + RLUIPA Transforms Obsolete Office Building to a Private School
We overcame neighborhood opposition to a 300 student religious school seeking to repurpose a vacant and obsolete 22,900 sf office building in Clifton, NJ on a 1.5 ac. site, south of the Route 3/Allwood Road interchange. We provided a factual basis supporting the regional and local need for the use, based on increasing Orthodox educational enrollments with Inherently Beneficial Land use status. We successfully argued the applicablility of RLUIPA , based on the religious educational components of the school's curriculum. We also successfully addressed the Sica and Coventry criteria and identified the proposal's consistency with the City's Master Plan objectives. Our suggestion to our client to commission a gap analysis of traffic conditions by the team's traffic consultant clinched the board's satisfaction that the Negative Criteria was satisfied. The ZBA approval was unanimous and no appeal was filed by objectors. Five years later, we assisted with unanimous ZBA approval of a second school location in Clifton, combining house of worship and religious school on one site, with no objectors.
We produced an expert Planning Report to assist in settlement of litigation involving three parties - Iron Horse Rifle & Pistol Club, Gloucester Township and neighboring residents (alleging property damage from live fire). Our report traced 60 years of zoning, master plans and historic aerial photos to determine when gun club activity commenced, whether it was permitted and what permits were required.
Main Street Revitalization
To formulate an action plan to address vacancies and economic pressure from the nearby regional mall, we prepared a Main Street Improvement Plan in Wharton NJ. The improvement plan provided architectural design standards, signage guidelines and streetscape upgrades for the CBD. The design concepts promoted the historic charm of the 12.5 acre downtown. The Borough implemented a tenancy review committee for continued success in affirming shared identity in the community's CBD.
Neighborhood Advocacy for Environmental Integrity
After 5 public hearings we won unanimous denial on behalf of our client, Temple Emanu-El in Closter, NJ to prevent development on an adjacent site. The proposed development adjoined environmentally sensitive land and Temple Emanu-El's conservation easement. Our victory reinforced the link between zoning regulations and environmental protection.
Redevelopment & Rehabilitation
We are well versed in NJ Local Redevelopment and Housing Law requirements for both redevelopment and rehabilitation. Having participated in the successful redevelopment of the 24 acre waterfront Maxwell House site in Hoboken, NJ we laid the foundation to transform it from a vacant 720,000 sf industrial coffee plant to an 800 unit residential enclave with commercial space. We've also provided Redevelopment Consulting Services for Livingston Township and Riverdale Borough.
Serving as planning advisors to Univision Communication, we assisted with approvals for microwave antenna installation at the 50 acre Glenpointe mixed use development in Teaneck, NJ. The Univision facility adjoins the Courts of Glenpointe, a gated condominium community. We resolved issues pertaining to height deviations and potential visual impacts on the adjoining residential neighborhood. Rooftop and ground mounted equipment was required by Univision to address changes from analog to digital technology. Univision is the leading media resource for the Hispanic community and the largest Spanish language broadcast television network.
We've successfully completed impact statements and environmental assessments under the NY State Environmental Quality Review Act. Among the more notable projects is the Arthur Ashe Stadium, site of the US Open. For Pascack Ridge, in Ramapo NY, we prepared a Comprehensive Plan Amendment and EIS supporting the rezoning of 27 acres to a multifamily zone for 290 units on the border of Clarkstown & Spring Valley. The document included a demographic analysis, fiscal impact analysis, population projections and multiple alternatives with mitigation. We also conducted a visual assessment of impacts on the surrounding neighborhood and coordinated all technical EIS elements such as traffic, air, noise and surface water resource impact analysis.