Plan to subdivide Elks Club property denied by TPZ
"My main reason for denying it has to do with sight lines," said Seth Baratz, vice chairman of the TPZ and the commission member who made the motion to deny the application. Baratz said Laurie Pulie, one of the town's engineers, was unable to determine if sight lines from the proposed driveways were sufficient because of missing information that included average vehicle speed and the road's slope.
Joan Neiley, the commission member who seconded Baratz's motion to deny, said she visited the property in the daytime and nighttime and that a hill near the Elks Club made it difficult to see other motorists. "I find it quite dangerous," she said. "The hill is there. It's blocking any vision for a driver coming from either direction."
Commission member Patricia Jacobson agreed. "I think this intersection is very dangerous, and we definitely need more information. The application is incomplete, and I will support a denial as well," she said.
Peter Gelderman, the lawyer representing the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks #2220 Inc., didn't attend the commission meeting in McKinley School, nor did neighbors who had expressed opposition to the proposed development at earlier public hearings.
But one neighbor reached at her home by phone, Vicki Lopez of Brookside Drive, said she was "happy that it didn't go through."
"The main reason is that corner, for some reason, we have a lot of car accidents," Lopez said of where Brookside Drive and Samp Mortar Drive meet. "I don't believe that we needed more going on at that property."
"That corner is a misery. It's literally where the Elks Club is," Lopez added. "I always see the accidents and the police cars there."
Town Planning Director Joseph Devonshuk Jr. said the sight line from one of the proposed driveways would be 220 feet northerly and 200 feet southerly, while the other proposed driveway's sight line would be 290 feet northerly and 200 feet southerly. Both driveways would have been off Brookside Drive.
Commission member Richard Jacobs said, "I do not believe he [Gelderman] met our regulations as they are now. I would like more information from a qualified traffic engineer before a decision is made."
Glenn Scheuer, of Brookside Drive, said the denial, in one regard, was a shame. He said the Elks Club has a large parking lot that is nearly always at least 75 percent empty and that a home would be a better use of space than asphalt that isn't used.
Under its subdivision plan, the Elks Club, which is now on about two acres at 452 Brookside Drive, wanted to keep its clubhouse on 1.2 acres and to build one house on 12,786 square feet and the other on 9,409 square feet. Eleven of the club's 59 parking spaces would have been taken up by one of the proposed lots, leaving the club with 48, which is four more than town zoning regulations require, Devonshuk said.
The Elks proposed the development to help raise money for charitable endeavors and to defray maintenance costs on its clubhouse. The Elks also had fallen behind on local property tax payments.
The TPZ's vote to deny the Elks' application was 6-1, with commission member Gerald Alessi casting the only vote in opposition to the motion. Alessi didn't offer comments in support of the application.