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Not many residents of Lakewood attend the meetings of the various monthly and bi-monthly boards that take place in the municipal building.
Most of these meetings, in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, are open to the public and members may speak up at specific parts of the meetings. The meeting agendas are posted a few days in advance, on the township website.
Here are a couple of things that happened (or didn’t happen as they rightfully should have) because no one spoke up at the proper meetings.
When a property owner goes before the planning or zoning board for an approval to build on his property, he is required, by township ordinance, to properly pave the roads (known as paper streets) that front on all sides of his property.
For example, in the illustration below, if the owner of lot 183 wants to build a school on his lot, which is on County Line Road, he will be required to pave Clayton Street, Elkins Street, and Major Avenue. Eventually, when the owner of lot 181 wants to build on his property, he would be required to pave his portion of Elkins and Dunsmore. This would provide a new ‘through road’ from County Line to Kennedy Blvd, and would free up traffic congestion on other nearby roads. This would also provide for more on Street parking in the area.
The planning and zoning boards have the authority, upon request of the applicant, to waive the requirement to pave the paper streets. These road waivers are what cause more traffic congestion and limit the on Street parking, especially around big shuls and schools where that is needed.
An example of the problem these waivers caused, is on Vermont Ave between Essex and Oak Streets. All the adjacent property owners received waivers for improving their portion of Vermont Ave, and therefore Vine Street gets all the congestion.
Another Township ordinance requires the builders to build 4 feet wide sidewalks, and curbs on all roads that front their property. This is an ordinance that the boards often grant waivers for when the developers ask for a waiver.
There is a lot on James Street that also fronts Ridgeway/Drake Road in the back. By township ordinance, the property owner, when applying for site plan approval, would be responsible to provide a curb and sidewalk on both James and Drake.
In February 2018, this specific lot was at the planning board, and you can read below in the minutes from that meeting where the applicant’s attorney told the planning board that the neighbors requested of us to “maintain the rural setting of the road” and not to properly widen the road, install curb or sidewalk.
Firstly, I ask you, do you not want a curb and sidewalk on your road?? Do you know anyone who would beg developers not to install a sidewalk so their children can walk safely in front of their house??
But even more troubling, in December 2018, a letter was posted in the Ask The Mayor column on The Lakewood Scoop from a resident of Drake Road complaining about the dilapidated road they live on!!
Today, in the Ask The Mayor column on The Lakewood Scoop, this comes up again…
Is it truly possible that other neighbors on the block do want to maintain their dilapidated road as is, or are these developers and their “professionals” taking us for a ride and unfairly speaking up in our name??
The zoning board (which meets only once monthly) is meeting this Monday night at 7:00 pm and the planning board (which meets bi-monthly) is meeting this Tuesday night at 6:00 pm. Both meetings are in the big courtroom in the municipal building at 231 3rd Street.
The only one who can speak for ourselves – is us!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of GreaterLakewood.