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  • Kevin Elliott

Patios, terraces addressed by township ordinance

Some outdoor landscape elements and patio amenities will be allowed without a permit under an ordinance amendment approved on Monday, July 22, by the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees.

The amendment, which was unanimously approved, was introduced in June and allows for outdoor patio elements, such as masonry walls, gas fire pits and kitchenettes that are under four-feet tall to be allowed without seeking a permit or special approval from the township.

Andrea Bibby, deputy director of planning, building and ordinance for the township, said in June that the intention of the amendment is to allow for some outdoor elements to be approved by the township without requiring residents to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).

Under the previous ordinance, all landscape elements commonly associated with a patio, such as masonry landscape walls, piers, kitchenettes and gas fire pits, were required to receive approval for the ZBA. If structures are located in a rear yard and setback at least 16 feet from all lot lines, they still require permission approval from the ZBA. If they don't meet the provisions, they require a variance in addition to special permission.

Bibby said the department looked at the past five years of ZBA requests, with such requests generally granted for those items under the required criteria. The proposed ordinance amendment would allow for some of the elements to be approved without the ZBA approval.

Under the approved amendment, the eased restrictions apply to front and secondary front yards to project into the required yard for a distance not to exceed 10 feet or no more than 25 percent of the setback, nor exceed four feet in height, and maintain a 16-foot setback from any side lot lines; patios that meet the requirements in the rear or secondary front yard may also incorporate gas fire pits and kitchenettes; and illumination on structures that don't exceed an overall height of four feet.

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