Ramsey Subaru Lot "Parked"In Board of Adjustment Debate
Variance requested for a used car lot in residential zone
If you are heading to Ramsey Subaru on Route 17, be careful where you park.
The car dealership petitioned the Mahwah Zoning Board of Adjustment Wednesday for the use of 15 existing parking in the property the business is renting. However, the spots are in a residential zone.
The lot in question at 113 Moffatt Road, off of Route 17, has an interesting history. It is a split-zone lot, B40 business and R10 residential. A 2800 square foot building and 81 parking spaces already exist at this location.
In 2001, a site plan was approved for use by Verizon, which would allow employees to park cars in the R10 portion of the lot, but not their trucks.
Attorney James Jaworski, representing Ramsey Auto Group Wednesday, explained that the applicant was seeking to make no changes to the building, or the property, and wanted only to use the existing space for a “wholesale” lot. This lot would house used cars, which would be driven on and off site. It would not include delivery trucks or a repair facility. Jaworski called this a “less intensive” use than the previous tenant.
He presented an e mail from a neighbor whose property abuts the applicants’, showing a general approval.
When Verizon left the site, a landscaping company called Nature’s View moved onto the property. According to the presentation Wednesday, that company made numerous alterations to the site without any permits. There was a lawsuit filed between the township and the company, but during this process Nature’s View went out of business.
Board member Cimis was concerned that the new plan presented by Ramsey Auto Group would return the site to its original 2001 approved plan. Of concern was the garage that he could not recall being originally approved. Board attorney Ben Cascio also expressed concern about this being an unapproved alteration to the building.
Representing Ramsey Auto Group was Frank Minervini, who “built most of the buildings” they use. He explained that 40-45 cars would be moved per week, and only one employee would man the site. The garage in question would be used to photograph cars for the Internet.
Board member Whiteman pointed out that the variance being sought was for the parking lot, not the building. Cimis additionally wanted to see the landscaping cleaned up, and returned to the approved state set in the 2001 Verizon plan.
Jaworski said the applicant would be more than happy to work with the local neighbor to see to this.
Jaworski called on fellow attorney Bruce Whitaker, present for another matter, to testify. He had been involved in the situation with Nature’s View, and recalled examining the property with Gary Montroy, the township planning department’s Administrative Officer, after the landscaper had gone.
Whitaker stated that Montroy would not allow any occupant to return to the building unless he had been satisfied that all was up to code, even given non-permitted changes. Whitaker contended that there had been another tenant in the building since Nature’s View departed.
The discussions over the parking lot debate were carried to a future meeting. Board Chairman Rabolli said he hoped that before the matter returns to the board for the work session, a letter from Montroy affirming Whitaker’s statements be acquired.
The date of this work session on this matter was not set.