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Zoning ordinance changes move toward approval

By Dana Casadei

Bloomfield Township Director of Planning, Building and Ordinance, Patti Voelker, recommended consideration of two ordinance amendments to permit pergolas, fountains and certain electrical equipment as they relate to zoning ordinances to the board of trustees on Monday, March 27.

Voelker introduced proposed amendments that would affect the zoning ordinance for pergolas and fountains under the township’s general exceptions, as well as ground or wall mechanical and electrical equipment under site standards.

The first ordinance amendment change related to pergolas and fountains, where if certain criteria is met by homeowners, those hoping to build would no longer need to go in front of the township's zoning board of appeals for approval.

The planning, building, and ordinance department did a similar analysis to what they had done in years' prior, when the ordinance was last amended in 2019, to allow items like gas fires, kitchenettes, and grills on a patio immediately adjacent to the home or the front of the home, depending on the location.

The second proposed ordinance amendment would remove ground-mounted mechanical or electrical equipment from the accessory structures provisions, and add it to site standards to allow units in compliance to be permitted by right and not need ZBA approval.

Much like the fountain and pergola ordinance proposal, this would drastically improve wait time for residents to get started, according to Voelker. Those hoping to go ahead with this type of project would only need a building permit.

Voelker also proposed adding wall mounted mechanical equipment to the site standards ordinance for residential and nonresidential districts. Currently, there are no requirements for such equipment.

Multiple members of the board discussed that these changes would free up a lot of time for multiple departments and the township’s residents, all agreeing this was an excellent idea.

A rough estimate was given that the ZBA sees requests like these three to four times a month for approval.

“It’s just a more efficient use of everyone’s time,” said trustee Neal Barnett, who also complimented the department on its in-depth research.

So far, these provisions have been discussed with the township’s planning commission, with a public hearing held on February 20, during which time it was recommended unanimously for the township board to consider final approval of the ordinance language they were presented.

The zoning board of appeals also had the opportunity to review this draft ordinance and strongly supported the provisions as they were presented.

After a brief discussion about a small language change to the amendments, the board of trustees voted unanimously to accept the introduction of the ordinance and place it on the April 24 agenda for final approval.


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