Mahwah November 4, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES IV • Page 7 Zoning board opens public hearing on fowl issue by Frank J. McMahon The Mahwah Zoning Board has begun a public hearing on an application by the owner and tenant of a long narrow piece of property on Lakeview Drive in the Stag Hill section of the township. The application seeks an interpretation of the township’s zoning ordinance concerning the location of chicken coops that are currently within five feet of the property line. The owner of the property, Rommel Mondejar, and the tenant, John DeMarino, allegedly have about 500 roosters and hens in a string of wooden coops on their property. They claim the ordinance does not apply to them because this use predates the township’s zoning ordinance. Attorney George Cotz was scheduled to represent Mondejar and DeMarino in municipal court in response to numerous summonses that have been issued to them by John Lane, the township’s previous property maintenance officer, and Thomas Mulvey, the township’s current zoning and property maintenance inspector. The summonses were issued in response to complaints by neighbors of the property, but the court hearing was adjourned several times at Cotz’s request and ultimately Municipal Court Judge Anthony Gianni agreed to allow Cotz to apply to the zoning board for an interpretation of the zoning ordinance. When Cotz appeared before the zoning board recently, he claimed the ordinance requiring a setback from the property line became effective in 1977 and his clients’ use predates that ordinance. Cotz said that, as far as he knows, there was no prior ordinance requiring that setback. Zoning Board Chairman George Cimis advised that while the zoning ordinance might pertain to keeping coops within a certain number of feet from the sideline, the keeping of fowl on a property is covered by a board of health ordinance. Cimis also advised that several portions of the application submitted by Cotz were not completed, and he claimed the property survey submitted by Cotz is confusing with buildings and fences extending across property lines and even onto township owned property. Zoning Board Attorney Ben Cascio asked Cotz if the survey would be amended to show where the coops are located, but Cotz claimed the coops are frequently moved so they cannot be depicted on a survey. Asked by Cascio why the coops cannot be kept away from the property line, Cotz said allowing them to be located up to the property line facilitates the use of the coops. He claimed that has been allowed historically and the setback was ignored for decades. Cotz was asked if the board of health ordinance grandfathered the location of the coops. He responded that, even if the zoning board finds that the coop location predates the zoning ordinance, he would have to resolve some issues with the board of health. The zoning board’s public hearing was adjourned until Nov. 18. The latest board of health ordinance that regulates the practice of keeping fowl by township residents was adopted in February 2008. The ordinance requires anyone who keeps or maintains live fowl to have a license that must be renewed every year. In addition, the owner of birds entering from outside the state must submit a certificate of veterinary inspection and the birds must be free of, and not exposed to, numerous diseases that are identified in the board of health ordinance. The ordinance also requires that the fowl be kept in a manner that will not result in offensive odors and will not be dangerous or injurious to the health of the fowl. The ordinance states that it is unlawful for any person to keep any crowing rooster or screaming or chattering fowl. The measure also requires that all fowl be confined in coops and runs, and the coops must have concrete floors and have a sufficient number of roosts to provide space for each individual fowl kept in the coops. The coops must be kept clean and free of rodent infestation and are subject to periodic inspections by the health officer. In addition, no coops may be located within 50 feet of any dwelling unit, 200 feet of any food establishment, or 100 feet of any property line. However, the ordinance also states that all coops constructed prior to 1976 would not be subject to the previously stated location requirements. The issue is simply that a BIG and BUSY truck stop/service station does not belong RIGHT NEAR OUR SCHOOLS. This is not the right place for it. Look past what is temporarily “prettier” and think about the use and location. There are no benefits to having a truck stop/service station there. THE LAST WORD ON THE PILOT TRUCK STOP More traffic, potential problems: • There WILL be more trucks. Why would they spend almost $5 million to revamp and fight for this site? Truck traffic will increase as the economy grows. As the largest truck stop company (a recent acquisition doubles its size) it has buying power to get diesel at low prices and attract trucks from 287 & the Thruway. • There may be just as many trucks parked as there are now. There’s 8 official spots, room for 15 trucks to line up and plenty of other room to park. Just visit any Pilot Truck stop and you’ll see what we mean. • There ARE inherent dangers with a huge truck stop/service station near a school-- drugs, crime, runaways, pollution, etc. • Children will mingle with transient trucks and cars because they WILL go to the new convenience store for food and other items. Just ask them. • The site is already under EPA remediation. Pilot is a lessee and has NO legal responsibility to clean it up. Think about the future: The Villadom TIMES Welcomes Your Press Releases & Photos Email to: editorial@villadom.com. Or mail to: PO Box 96, Midland Park, NJ 07432 (only quality photo prints can be used) Press releases & photos must be received by WEDNESDAY prior to publication. Digital photos must be JPEG files with a resolution of at least 300 dpi. • Pilot leased a site with 5 diesel pumps and a small store. It currently is a non-conforming use. They should not be allowed to add 1 diesel pump, 6 gas pumps and enlarge the store. These are NEW uses. Bigger is not better. • Pilot does not have to expand to make it look nicer. They should be accountable and clean up what they operate. • The town can eliminate those trucks with an ordinance for Ridge Road. We can do this ourselves!! Hundreds of people have already signed the petition for this ordinance. • Think about the future. Do we want to be stuck with a HUGE truck stop across from our schools FOREVER? • Mahwah, USE YOUR ORDINANCE WHICH WAS JUST CLARIFIED, which states that Service Stations cannot be located within 500 Feet of schools and keep PILOT AT BAY! YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD NEWSPAPER Come to the NOVEMBER 4th Hearing of the ZONING BOARD at Town Hall, 8pm for Closing Arguments. This ad is brought to you by a group of concerned residents who have no motive other than the health, safety, and welfare of our children, its residents, and our town. Visit www. KeepMahwahSafe.com Parents for Safety, LLC 11-4-09 joan/janine ParentsForSafety4x9(11-4-09) 4” x 9”